The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation

The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation


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A classic bestseller--this monumental work from a Nobel Prize-winning writer documents Soviet political repression.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060803964
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/01/1979
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

After serving as a decorated captain in the Soviet Army during World War II, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was sentenced to prison for eight years for criticizing Stalin and the Soviet government in private letters. Solzhenitsyn vaulted from unknown schoolteacher to internationally famous writer in 1962 with the publication of his novella One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968. The writer's increasingly vocal opposition to the regime resulted in another arrest, a charge of treason, and expulsion from the USSR in 1974, the year The Gulag Archipelago, his epic history of the Soviet prison system, first appeared in the West. For eighteen years, he and his family lived in Vermont. In 1994 he returned to Russia. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died at his home in Moscow in 2008.

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Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
andrewlovesoldbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book makes me want to never complain about anything ever again.The Gulag Archipelago details the suffering faced by countless millions in the U.S.S.R.'s prison and labor camp system. It is a book beyond review - Solzhenitsyn has profound insight, devastating wit, and a staggering memory.From page 590:"What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I'll spell it out for you right now. Do no pursue what is illusory - property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life - don't be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn after happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn't last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. It is enough if you don't freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don't claw at your insides. If your back isn't broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes see, and if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of other devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart - a prize above all else in the world those who love you and wish you well. Do no hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it might be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted in their memory!"
figre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Do not open this book for a light read. Do, however, open this book and read. Solzhenitsyn bares every detail of Gulag life, from the first arrest to¿well, I don¿t know how far, because this edition represent just one-third of the entire work that Solzhenitsyn has created ¿ this is only books one and two. 600+ pages devoted to the tortures that lead to unnecessary confessions (unnecessary because you will be arrested and sent to the camps even if you don¿t confess), devoted to the mockery of public trials, devoted to the history of these shams (all the way back to the Tsars ¿ showing how the dictators learned from their enemies and took it all to the next level), devoted to the various horrors of the various transportation methods, devoted to getting us to the camps. (And to think that these were events occurring prior to, contemporaneously with, and subsequent to the Nazi horrors from which we all recoil. This makes the Nazis look like pikers.) And the camps don¿t really appear until after books one and two.Here is the amazing part; here is the part that shoots this into the upper stratosphere of great writing. It would be very easy for this book to sink into its own detail ¿ to leave the reader mired in the minutia. However, Solzhenitsyn is a writer of incomparable skill, and his interweaving of human stories within all this detail keeps the reader intrigued. And just about the time you are tempted to skim, another story surfaces which brings you back into the book and brings the book to life.I cannot imagine trying to absorb more than this first edition without some break. So, I will move on to something else for a while to refresh myself. But, even if I were to never return to the rest of this ¿trilogy¿ (and, believe me, I will be back), I could never escape the image Solzhenitsyn has so artfully seared into my mind.
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very well written book, I am always surprised how well Russian translates into English. A detailed account of life in Communist Soviet Union under Lenin and later Stalin the arrests, purges, railway cars and the camps is an incredible story. It is almost unbelieveable that things were happening like this and at the other end of the globe lives were lived that people couldn't comprehend.
Arctic-Stranger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book brought Solzhenitsyn to the forefront of American consciousness, exposing the evil that lay behind the Stalinist police state of the Soviet Union. The author was in the Gulag, and writes out of his own experiences, as well as the experiences of others. He really takes us deep into the heart of what it means to hear a knock on the door in the middle of the night, knowing that they have come to get you. From there, Solzhenitsyn takes us to the processing, the interrogation, the presentation of charges, the "trial", and finally sentencing. He sprinkles his narrative liberally with his own experiences, but even more the stories of others--people who would have long been forgotten, meaningless numbers on a page in some bureaucrats file, were it not for this book, where their stories are preserved. Solzhenitsyn writes with a more deliberate tone of anger than what one finds in his other works on the prison system (One day in the Life of Ivan Densovitch and The First Circle.) This is a much more depressing book than either of those two. This book is the Dachau of the Soviet Union. The camps are not preserved like many concentration camps were, and so this is the only memorial. And it is a damn good one. This is hard to read, partially because of Solzhenitsyn's style (this is neither history nor literature, but attains to be both, and does not always succeed), but also because the subject matter is dark and depressing. But it is a fine memorial, and should be read, just as people should visit Dachau or Auschwitz if they ever have the chance, just to remind themselves that evil is alive and well in the world.
dickcraig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book on a train trip from Vancouver, BC to Montreal shortly after it came out. I will never forget the way the author described the shear hopelessness of the people caught in the system.