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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Depicts how the human spirit prevails - for readers that were moved by ONE DAY, I would also recommend A BEAUTIFUL WORLD by Gregg Milligan

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH takes readers through life in a Russian prison camp during the days of Stalin. The character and story are based on the author's real-life experience as an unjustly held political prisoner. Beatings, starvation and cruelty were t...
ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH takes readers through life in a Russian prison camp during the days of Stalin. The character and story are based on the author's real-life experience as an unjustly held political prisoner. Beatings, starvation and cruelty were the staples of existence for the prisoners, who carved out their daily life through exhaustive work camp labor in sub-zero temperatures. Driven to the edge of survival, readers witness the subtle means by which the lead character maintains his sense of humanity. From simply hanging on to a secret spoon to eat with that he made himself as a means of small hope, to the end of the book where he shows care for his fellow prisoners - the main character's focus is not on things that were lost, such as his former life of freedom with his wife - but instead on things within the camp that he finds to keep him going, such as a pair of felt boots or a small piece of bread he hides to eat later. Such perspective embodies the courageous qualities of the human spirit.

For readers who enjoyed this book, I strongly recommend reading an intense journey that chronicles incredible perseverance in the face of adversity - a memoir by Gregg Milligan called A BEAUTIFUL WORLD. As a young boy subjected to severe physical, mental and sexual abuse, Gregg finds ways to keep his hope alive - such as finding a stray dime to purchase a fruit pie from the corner store, taking refuge in a quiet field at the end of the block, and caring for a kitten rejected by its mother. Readers will be struck the pure innocence of a child's heart prevailing in the depths of evil. The love he has for his siblings and even his abusive mother is a testament to its endurance. An unforgettable story, exquisitely written in a searing visual style, A BEAUTIFUL WORLD will ever remain with those that read it.

The strength and resilience of those that suffer encourages all of us to stay the course, no matter what difficulties in life we may face. Look no further than ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH and A BEAUTIFUL WORLD for proof.

And in the words of Gregg Milligan, "Few rise above all the decadence done unto them. Those blessed few leave a great influence of a better day filled with clean hope and blossoming opportunities. We are all capable of leaving this mark - no matter what we've been through."

posted by SarahAnn09 on September 23, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review

Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review THIS IS
A SPOILER ALERT! One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, whether the reader enjoys it or not, is a
thought-provoking novel with a dynamic protagonist and important themes
...
Lee Epstein Period 5 August 16, 2012 Ivan Denisovich Book Review THIS IS
A SPOILER ALERT! One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander
Solzhenitsyn, whether the reader enjoys it or not, is a
thought-provoking novel with a dynamic protagonist and important themes
to take away. This novel documents what a day would be like as a
prisoner in Soviet Russia. Solzhenitsyn was a prisoner, and he was
trying to show his readers what his experience was like. I felt as if a
lot of the book was not enjoyable, there weren’t clear plot elements
such as a rising action and a climax, but I truly enjoyed the lessons it
taught me about my life and about life throughout Soviet Russia. The
protagonist’s name is Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. I believe that the title
does not use his last name in the title because Solzhenitsyn wants the
reader to know that one of the basic struggles of soviet Russia and of
those camps is finding any sort of independence. It is truly amazing
that the whole novel documents just one day in Shukhov’s sentence, out
of the 3,653 days that he serves, and this day proves to be probably the
most important day of his life. Shukhov goes through a complete
transformation in one day, and the way he sees some of his fellow
prisoners changes as well. He starts his day by waking up late, and not
feeling well. In other words, his day could not have started much worse.
He was almost punished for waking up late by a mean guard, was not
allowed to be excused from work for the day, and when he got to
breakfast, if it can be called that at all by the little amount of food
they are given, his tasteless stew was cold. One of the big ways he
changed was not about doing deeds for others, but why he did these
deeds. In the morning, he would volunteer to do someone’s work or stand
in line for his gang leader, for the sole purpose of what he would get
in return. By the end of the day, for the first time in the story, he
gives a fellow inmate some extra food that Shukhov had because the
inmate was simply hungry. I found it significant that the person who
Shukhov gave the food to, Alyoshka, always gives without expecting
something in return. Shukhov always wondered how Alyoshka could do this,
but he realizes that giving for the sake of giving feels good inside.
Ivan Denisovich falls to sleep that night and thinks to himself that
this day was almost a happy day for the first time in his sentence.
While there are many other themes about why Shukhov goes to sleep happy
that night or themes in general, I believe that the motif of giving to
give is the most significant theme of the novel and he is happy because
he has learned how to be a generous person.

posted by LEpstein on August 16, 2012

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  • Posted September 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Depicts how the human spirit prevails - for readers that were moved by ONE DAY, I would also recommend A BEAUTIFUL WORLD by Gregg Milligan

    ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH takes readers through life in a Russian prison camp during the days of Stalin. The character and story are based on the author's real-life experience as an unjustly held political prisoner. Beatings, starvation and cruelty were the staples of existence for the prisoners, who carved out their daily life through exhaustive work camp labor in sub-zero temperatures. Driven to the edge of survival, readers witness the subtle means by which the lead character maintains his sense of humanity. From simply hanging on to a secret spoon to eat with that he made himself as a means of small hope, to the end of the book where he shows care for his fellow prisoners - the main character's focus is not on things that were lost, such as his former life of freedom with his wife - but instead on things within the camp that he finds to keep him going, such as a pair of felt boots or a small piece of bread he hides to eat later. Such perspective embodies the courageous qualities of the human spirit.

    For readers who enjoyed this book, I strongly recommend reading an intense journey that chronicles incredible perseverance in the face of adversity - a memoir by Gregg Milligan called A BEAUTIFUL WORLD. As a young boy subjected to severe physical, mental and sexual abuse, Gregg finds ways to keep his hope alive - such as finding a stray dime to purchase a fruit pie from the corner store, taking refuge in a quiet field at the end of the block, and caring for a kitten rejected by its mother. Readers will be struck the pure innocence of a child's heart prevailing in the depths of evil. The love he has for his siblings and even his abusive mother is a testament to its endurance. An unforgettable story, exquisitely written in a searing visual style, A BEAUTIFUL WORLD will ever remain with those that read it.

    The strength and resilience of those that suffer encourages all of us to stay the course, no matter what difficulties in life we may face. Look no further than ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH and A BEAUTIFUL WORLD for proof.

    And in the words of Gregg Milligan, "Few rise above all the decadence done unto them. Those blessed few leave a great influence of a better day filled with clean hope and blossoming opportunities. We are all capable of leaving this mark - no matter what we've been through."

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2012

    The novel, ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH by Alexander S

    The novel, ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH by Alexander
    Solzhenitsyn is an exquisite piece of literature, which I would highly
    recommend to anyone who is looking for an enjoyable yet mentally
    stimulating read. This book is the story of an average day in the life
    of an unassuming Russian soldier, Ivan Shukhov Denisovich, after he has
    been wrongfully convicted of treason and served about 8 years of his 10
    year sentence in a Russian labor camp. Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    skillfully describes every detail of every moment of every day in order
    for the reader to become engaged with the character and feel his
    struggle. I was instantly hooked from the first moment I started
    reading. Ivan’s goals became my goals, his fears became my fears, and
    his triumphs became my triumphs, I simply felt like I was there in the
    labor camp with Ivan, working with him to survive. I sympathized with
    Ivan because he doesn’t complain about his problems he just accepts his
    misfortunes and focuses on the now, on what he needs to do to survive
    for the next day, no time and energy is wasted on pointless endeavors.
    Ivan is not extraordinary in any typical sense of the word, he is not a
    genius ahead of his time or a monster of a man able to lift 1000 pounds,
    but he has a characteristic that is more useful that anything else and
    that is the ability to find meaning in this place that only wants to
    take everything away from him. That is how he is able to find the will
    to survive through all his struggles. Ivan’s success shows me that
    anyone can overcome any obstacle. This sense of attachment that I
    developed to the character is really what made me enjoy the book so
    much, but not only is it an enjoyable read, it has had a significant
    political impact on the world. This novel is an eye opener, to the
    horrific realities of Soviet Russia and because of the time of its
    publication played a significant role in Russia politics by pushing the
    people of Russia to challenge their government. This novel is a piece of
    history and a worthwhile read, anyone who decides to read this book has
    made a good choice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2012

    Ivan Denisovich Shuckhov humbles me. A poor, uneducated, Russia

    Ivan Denisovich Shuckhov humbles me. A poor, uneducated, Russian labor
    camp prisoner who struggled in the real world, Shuckhov possess traits
    unlike any other protagonist of a prison/Holocaust novel. His ability
    to adapt and thrive in the harsh Siberian environment that he was
    unjustly put in makes for an eye-opening story. His rare ability to
    acclimate to every situation without complaint and to observe every
    gruesome situation with an optimistic lens characterizes him as the best
    of his breed. One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is at time a
    morose tale, yes, but it is also one of the most prominent examples of
    the persistence of mankind. Starving, sleep deprived, and freezing,
    Ivan Denisovich still finds appreciation and comfort in his work,
    basking in the fact that his masonry skills are far superior to those of
    his inmates. This action depicts the pride he has in his work that his
    section of the wall is the straightest and the sturdiest. His outward
    display of emotions are a fantastic example of the state of awe that
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn is constantly placing the reader in; that a man
    tortured and dehumanized on a daily basis can still maintain his dignity
    enough to successfully function and work in camp, and moreover enjoy the
    work he does in camp, is entirely astounding. His attitude in hardship
    reflects the best of mankind and the duration of the human spirit in
    times of struggle. In addition, the Darwinian aspect that is found
    throughout the novel only makes the story that much more real.
    Solzhenitsyn attaches new meaning to the phrase “survival of the
    fittest” as Ivan’s resilience and longevity are tested in the sub-zero
    temperatures of the Siberian wasteland. His malleable character, while
    not relatable to most readers, inflicts a deep found self-awareness and
    appreciation in us and our surroundings. Furthermore, the language is
    concise; written from an illiterate perspective it is a simple read, but
    not necessarily an easy read. Time must be taken in order to do this
    account justice. However, the lens that this novel is written through
    creates rawness within the words. The imagery and detail that is put
    into documenting one day in the life of a Russian labor camp inmate is
    intense to the point where you feel hungry when Ivan is starving, cold
    when he is freezing and weary when he is struggling. As dynamic
    character you sympathize with his hardships and rejoice in his moments
    of triumph in which he is able to beat the system by sneaking a piece of
    hacksaw back into camp. The survival system he has perfected for himself
    over the years is full proof and the optimism he shows at the end of the
    day only further emphasizes the testament he is to civilization and the
    beacon he has become in the bleak world of the political prisoner genre.
    Despite the depressing circumstances that make up this novel, the only
    real tragedy would be not to read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    I read this in English, so I am hesitant to judge the language.

    I read this in English, so I am hesitant to judge the language. Overall, this is brilliant and, at places, even humorous. Economic and evocative, philosophical and full of the senses, with compact and precise characterizations of the players in this particular camp, barrack, etc. - a portrait of the microcosm that can stand for any Gulag.

    Since I was already familiar with the nuts and bolts, so to speak, of Gulag life from other books and movies (Shalamov's Kolyma Tales", Amis' "House of Meetings" - which I didn't like - Weir's "The Way Back"), I was looking out for the craft aspects of the book: how was it structured, how did Solzhenitsyn get under the reader's skin. The passage of time is important. Our protagonist Shukhanov tracks the passage of sun and then the moon. There are no clocks available to the prisoners, but he always knows what time it is. The workday is excruciatingly long, and one can survive it only by focusing on surviving the smaller chunks and setting small yet life-saving goals: to get one more minute of warmth, to barter a pinch of tobacco, to get a good drying spot for one's boots on the stove, to get a sick note from the doctor, to get out of the barracks last so you can get back in first, to avoid the guards, to conceal a length of wire during a search, to catch out an empty tray in the cafeteria when it changes hands, to gauge when to share with a fellow zek and when to curse and kick him. These bit goals in the "civilian" world may be trifles, but in the Gulag they add up to the overarching goal - to survive your term, be it ten or twenty-five years.

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  • Posted January 10, 2013

    For those who love freedom, and the spirit of survival, this boo

    For those who love freedom, and the spirit of survival, this book is a must-read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 17, 2012

    ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn had his novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, originally published in 1962 in the USSR in a magazine called “Novy Mir”. This short novel, initially written in the Russian language, is one that I would most certainly recommend to others. The story takes place in a labor camp called “HQ” in Siberia, while the prisoners are surviving through the winter of 1951. It describes the daily routines of the protagonist, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, and his labor camp crew, which is called the 104th. The novel is written through a 3rd person omniscient point of view, and so the readers gain a vital understanding of what exactly is going on with Shukov’s feelings and emotions. Although the whole story takes place from five o’clock in the morning until about midnight it provides the reader a very rich and detailed description of what a Russian “special” camp is like. Solzhenitsyn does a superb job of helping the reader visualize what the prisoners had to go through each day. His descriptions are very vivid, thorough, and significant. The use of imagery throughout the novel is consistent and truly help the reader to stay focused and into the story. The novel’s major conflict involves gang 104th struggles for survival in such a cruel and unjust camp. The protagonist has a severe fever of “+99”, yet is still forced to go to work in the morning. The crew is sent to build the second story of a power plant under weather of 17 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, and without having the proper materials and tools to even build such thing. Furthermore prisoners must avoid any punishment from the soviet camp officers. They intimidate prisoners, and use their power to manipulate people all over the camp. One of their ways of intimidating prisoners is by forcing them to take off their clothes to check for any hidden food, spare clothing, and even letters that the prisoner might be keeping. Officer Volkovoy usually whips those caught with a leather whiplash. The officers are evidently the antagonists throughout the novel. The narrator described the routine by suggesting “More likely it was just another way of tormenting people, giving them something extra to worry about” (pg.27) The themes developed throughout this novel are critical towards my decision of recommending this novel to others. The most obvious themes include importance of faith, the struggle to survive and last is dignity. The members of gang 104 who follow those three themes find themselves at a much better situation in the camp than those who don’t. Fetyukov lives a miserable life at the camp, getting beat up by the officers and other prisoners, all because his lack of dignity. He spends all the time in prison begging around for food to survive.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2012

    Alejandro Hernandez Mr. Shapiro Period 5 17 August 2012 One Day

    Alejandro Hernandez Mr. Shapiro Period 5 17 August 2012 One Day in the
    Life of Ivan Denisovich *WARNING THIS MAY HAVE SPOILERS Alexander
    Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” is a novel that
    presents the grueling life of a political prisoner, Ivan Denisovich
    Shukov, who was thrown into prison after an incident during the war,
    which he was in reality not guilty for. One Day in the Life presents the
    reader with a perspective of how much risk and danger there was in the
    Russian gulag prison system. A prison system where mostly innocent and
    wrongly accused persons under the rule of Stalin had to live through, as
    it represented an isolated society where only the strongest and wisest
    can survive. The ongoing human brutality, harsh Serbian winters, lack of
    food and supplies, everyday worry of being caught hiding important
    items, and the struggle to cling on to human faith and dignity are
    amongst the many dangers and complications that Shukov has to face on a
    daily basis. For Shukov to survive he must be cautious and have somewhat
    a stroke of luck, for which he is uncertain could come again, but as he
    stays close in relations to his squad the 104th, he starts to understand
    the importance of gaining the respect of others in order to keep
    enduring through the coming days. He depends most importantly on serving
    his fierce and fiery squad leader Tiurin, whose experience and hellish
    prison sentence has made him into a heroic man, one who is truly fit to
    be a squad leader and protector of those who support him. In addition,
    Shukov must also be weary in avoiding the rats, squealers, and snitches
    that live off the blood of others in the very prison system he dwells
    in. And even though the story takes place at a time when Shukov’s prison
    sentence is coming to an end, the story grimly presents the ongoing
    doubt of Shukov ever coming back home to his family, as the possibility
    of being thrown in the notorious guardhouse or even worse, being given
    an extended prison sentence at the end of his term threaten his survival
    and hope for the future. Besides putting the reader in Shukov’s own
    shoes, One Day in the Life also seems to serve as a parallel to
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s own imprisonment that he experienced after
    WWII. Similar to that of Shukov, Solzhenitsyn was also imprisoned for
    eight years after being accused for political crimes. The main
    importance of these relevancies to the struggle of political prisoners
    in Soviet Russia and Solzhenitsyn’s own experience in the menacing gulag
    is to serve as a great influence in eloquently depicting Shukov’s own
    struggle, experiences, and personal emotions during his prison term.
    This magnificent portrayal overall highlights this novel as one of the
    epitomes of Russian literature, a novel that heavily defines the theme
    of both human crisis and inspiration in an overwhelming and turbulent life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2012

    One day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich is a book like no other,

    One day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich is a book like no other, it
    stands out in literature because it is one of a kind. The book has no
    actual rising action, no real climax, and no real falling action. The
    title simply gives the content of the book away; it is just “One Day in
    the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” With all of this in mind, the writer still
    wrote a story that flowed perfectly with a memorable cast of characters
    that all highlight the characteristics of the protagonist. The book
    managed to set itself apart from the others of its time period because
    it was seen as a blatant insult to the way Stalin ran things, something
    that was unheard of in a country where censorship ruled. The story
    itself takes place in the days of WWII in Russia when Stalin ruled and
    the protagonist, Ivan Denisovich, is introduced in one of the “special
    camps” where “criminals” would be put through intensive labour for the
    “crimes” that they “committed.” Shukhov, as he is called in the book,
    hung on to the small things in life to get by and he appreciated the
    things that anyone could and do take for granted everyday. Alexander
    Solzhenitsyn successfully uses the book to retell his experiences as a
    prisoner since he was persecuted for “political crimes” as well. He most
    likely used his memories and experiences to tell the story with the sort
    of intensive imagery that captures the reader’s imagination with what is
    actually going on in the story that leaves a lasting impact on the
    reader. From the cool frost on the ceilings of squad 104’s prison
    barracks to the bland lacking foods that the prisoners had to eat in the
    sub-zero temperatures, readers really get a chance to see how cruel and
    unfair life can be, especially since a majority of those prisoners were
    wrongfully placed in those camps. The story of this one prisoner gives
    the reader insight on what a zek had to go through to survive in a camp
    even though they had to grind through the day. Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    successfully gives the reader a portrait of a man who stuck to his
    morals and beliefs in the cruel and unforgiving environment that was
    Siberia and the “special camps” that housed the prisoners. This one-day
    story reveals the corruption that prisoners faced in every corner of the
    camp, from the revocation of food supplies from prisoners to the
    wrongful beatings that they would also receive. The life that these
    prisoners went through is a life, let alone this one single day, is a
    life that no modern day American would be able to survive. The stories
    content makes the reader appreciate what they have in life wether they
    were looking for that effect or not and it leaves the readers with a
    remorseful feeling of how they should really be living their lives.
    Anyone should be able to pick up the book and read it with ease in one
    day so I do recommend it as a must read.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is the greatest literary

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is the greatest literary work of
    the World War II era in Russian history. The Russian fiction tells the
    story of a Russian soldier who is wrongfully thrown into a Siberian
    labor camp and the challenges one would face in a typical day.
    Solzhenitsyn, the author, does a wonderful job of displaying a human’s
    capability to overcome the most extreme conditions of labor and
    dehumanization. He does this by, constantly mentioning the etiquette
    that is common knowledge to the imprisoned men. Furthermore, throughout
    the novel it is noted that the men in the 104th squad have a unique
    understanding of camaraderie which makes the labor intensive work seem
    not so difficult after all. But the reason why I have come to love this
    piece is because it is not just a story about one man falling victim.
    Although the men in this Siberian prison have no reason to behave as
    civilized citizens would, they all still portray their etiquette
    frequently through out the novel. When describing the fish soup that the
    men are served for lunch everyday the narrator takes time to describe in
    great depth how each man has come to eat the fish the same way. The
    process begins with each man more often than not praying before their
    meal only to be followed with a slow paced eating, in order to enjoy the
    five minutes that they are given. Each man swirls the rancid fish in
    their mouth separating meat from bone and placing the bones on the
    table, Ivan points out that spitting the bones on the floor is frowned
    upon even though there is no punishment. Ivan himself displays his own
    etiquette by removing his cap before each meal to reveal his shaved
    head, no matter how below freezing it was. It is Ivan Denisovich’s
    idiosyncrasies that overrun the dehumanization forced upon him and for
    that reason this novel is so compelling. The protagonist, Ivan
    Denisovich, has changed my perspective on hardships all together. Being
    that he has wound up in the most extreme of conditions Ivan, has done an
    astonishing job coping with his predicament by focusing on his work.
    Early on in the novel it is apparent that Ivan has a workingman’s
    mentality and he uses this drive to help him forget about the luxuries
    he is deprived from. An example of Ivan’s understanding of how life in a
    “special” camp works is clear when the narrator says, "Now that
    Shukhov had a job to do, his body seemed to have stopped aching."
    What this means is that Ivan Denisovich has come to realize that the
    only outlet to escape the below freezing temperatures is to keep the
    body busy with work, not to try and find reasons to be exempt. One Day
    in the Life of Ivan Denisovich leaves the reader asking himself if he
    too could survive this hell that the 104th squad most endure and that is
    the reason this novel is regarded as a masterpiece.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a compelling novel by

    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a compelling novel by
    Alexander Solzhenitsyn depicting the lowly publicized brutality of the
    Soviet work camps under the tyrannical Joseph Stalin. Taking place in
    the harsh and dreary openness of Siberia this novel details one day in
    the life of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, an innocent man serving a ten-year
    sentence in “the gulag”. Having a whole novel take place in just one day
    allows readers to identify with Ivan and understand the injustice that
    he is going through and his feelings about everything that he has to
    face. The novel is fictitious but it is believed that Solzhenitsyn wrote
    it based on his experience in the gulag and that Shukhov is a
    representation of himself and his strife in the work camps. This novel
    is a must-read because unlike Nazi Germany, which is notorious, the
    Soviet work camps have been kept in the dark and most people are not
    even aware that they occurred. I for one did not even imagine the
    immense struggles that thousands of innocent people went through under
    Stalinism until I read this novel. This novel completely opened my eyes
    and hearts to all those that went through the injustice of the Soviet
    work camps. Going through the day in Ivan’s perspective gives readers a
    greater understanding of why the workers acted in the way they did.
    Ivan’s role in the 104th squad was not a major one, as Tiurin was the
    leader, but Ivan’s role was in fact notable because of his work ethic.
    He started off the day feeling ill and few people would be strong enough
    to face such hard labor in that state, nonetheless with the freezing
    temperatures but Ivan is forced to tough it out and continue with the
    day. During the day we see his tireless efforts and his motivation keep
    the other squad members going as well. Ivan’s hardships are highlighted
    with characters that serve as foils such as the lazy and spoiled Tsezar
    and the prison guards. What I found to be the most powerful aspect of
    the novel was how quickly readers would admire Ivan. Despite being in
    the camps for so long and the contagious negativity and dread of all the
    workers, Ivan remained true to his principles and morals. At meal times
    when it was one of the only few times that the men had to themselves and
    their comfort Ivan would remove his hat out of respect. My favorite
    quote in the novel is, “How often had Shukhov in his youth fed oats to
    horses! Never had it occurred to him that there’d come a time when his
    whole soul would yearn for a handful of them,” Page 72. This quote
    particularly struck me because it was an emphasis on how unpredictable
    life is. It showed that one cannot control fate and how Ivan who once
    had a happy and normal life had downgraded to such gruesome conditions-
    he was now in a position where he would do anything to get the food that
    he once thought nothing of and would feed to horses. Nevertheless, Ivan
    managed to deal with what came his way without complaining or slacking;
    when it comes down what Ivan had to deal with, few people can be as
    strong. Ivan’s incessant perseverance ultimately led to his survival.

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  • Posted December 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Solzhenitsyn's Best

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn is best known in the US for his novel "Gulag Archipelego". In my opinion, this book "One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich" actually deserves that spot. While "Gulag" is a masterpiece, it is more of a political statement than an insight into the rise and fall of the gulag system. Anne Applebaum's book "Gulag" is much better from that standpoint. This book on the other hand, gives the reader an excellent, first-hand account, of daily life in a Gulag.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2006

    Formidable

    Perhaps Russia's greatest living writer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn painted the picture of Stalin's gulag in this gut-revealing book that catapulted him in the West and became the harbinger to international recognition. In certain aspects , it reminds me of Dostoyevski's HOUSE OF THE DEAD with the extra political touch and spells out what humainity should avoid in the name of ideology that has been perverted.Mirrored in other books like UNION MOUJIK, DR ZHIVAGO, the underlying lesson is that Stalinism like other systems before destroyed faith in the Russian soul and sowed that post Soviet reality also wrecked havoc on and which Russia is yet to recover from.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2004

    Totally Radical

    I picked up this book back in high school just so I could take an Accelerated Reader test, but I liked it so much I ended up stealing it from the teacher. I recommend this to anyone that can read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2004

    Ivan Denisovich is a symbol of bravery

    I love this book. Ivan Denisovich is a symbol of bravery of the human spirit in despair. This story is necessary for all of us who used to the living in a society that supports freedom. The images of the Siberian camps in the Stalinist era are disturbing but impressive. There are many powerful outlines that express what a prisoner has to do in order to survive. Solzhenitsyn captures the society's dehumanization masterly. I was arrested in this story, making me feel as if I am Ivan Denisovich¿s cellmate. This is a masterwork on the psychology of continued existence. Reading about Ivan¿s life changed how I live each day. My uncle met Solzhenitsyn in CT. Great man. I wish I met him. He is one of my idols.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004

    Heart breaking

    Written in a way that makes you enjoy your warm house and food a little more. When your winter comes you don't complain about the cold nearly as much. And for me it has put difficult tasks in perspective and I find it easier to deal with life, knowing it could be worse, I could be Ivan Denisovich.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2003

    read it

    this book captures both the great cruelty of the gulag system in stalinist russia and the endearing and triumphant nature of humanity. it is a book to change your life, espeacially in our society that is so myopic and bent on personal convenience. the everyday troubles experienced by ivan denisovich make our daily errands seem as frivolous and enjoyable as picking flowers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2003

    My #1 favorite book of all time

    I thought that this book was about the enjoyment that can be found in simple things like cabbage stew. Sort of a Christian-Buddhist connection. The hardships of the gulags seemed to be more of a setting than a theme. I could be wrong, though. Either way this is one of those books that everyone should read. I think it's interesting that he was a mathematics major. His Nobel prize acceptance "speech" showed a deeper understanding of art than I've ever heard from an art major. I suppose he had a lot of time to think about it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    Wonderful Book!

    This novel demonstrates both the brutality of mankind and relates the triumph of the human soul. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Russian literature! The diction and way in which Solzhenitsyn tells the story is captivating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2002

    Not for those who like action, but for those who can think deeper...

    Well, it may seem like a boring book but I think people miss the point that it's not only the reality of a gulag but about a character and who he is. I find it very touching and inspiring, especially after reading the last few pages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2002

    Good Book

    I went into reading this book expecting it to be somewhat boring, I mean its Russian and its about one day how interesting could that be? I was wrong. It was very interesting to read the thoughts and the politics of one of the prisoners. This is one book I'm better for reading

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