Tuesday, 27 January 2009

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Title: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Author: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Number of pages: 143

Started: 26 January 2009

Finished: 27 January 2009

Opening words:

As usual, at five o'clock that morning reveille was sounded by the blows of a hammer on a length of rail hanging up near the staff quarters. The intermittent sound barely penetrated the windowpanes on which the frost lay two fingers thick, and they ended almost as soon as they'd begun. It was cold outside, and the camp-guard was reluctant to go on beating out the reveille for long.

Read an analysis of the book here

Plot summary:

The story of a typical day in a Stalinist labour camp as experienced by prisoner Ivan Denisovich Shukhov.

What I thought:

This was a sombre but kind of hopeful read. You learn what makes a good or a bad day and realise that it is possibly very different than what we are used to.

This book is about those imprisoned in Stalinist camps and was released under Lenin’s regime to show that it was a new way ahead and Russia was casting off that past. These people were imprisoned for a whole range of reasons, some of them political, but there was no sense of like minded people coming together debating ideas or fomenting dissent. There was no time or inclination to do such things because productivity and work was what they had to focus on and having enough to eat and keeping warm – for years on end with sentences that could just be extended on a whim.

A sobering book, but somehow hopeful.

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