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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is an undisputed classic of contemporary literature. First published (in censored form) in the Soviet journal Novy Mir in 1962, it is the story of labor-camp inmate Ivan Denisovich Shukhov as he struggles to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression. On every page of this graphic depiction of Ivan Denisovich’s struggles, the pain of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s own decade-long experience in the gulag is apparent—which makes its ultimate tribute to one man’s will to triumph over relentless dehumanization all the more moving.
An unforgettable portrait of the entire world of Stalin’s forced-work camps, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is one of the most extraordinary literary works to have emerged from the Soviet Union. The first of Solzhenitsyn’s novels to be published, it forced both the Soviet Union and the West to confront the Soviet’s human rights record, and the novel was specifically mentioned in the presentation speech when Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. Above all, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich establishes Solzhenitsyn’s stature as “a literary genius whose talent matches that of Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy” (Harrison Salisbury, The New York Times).
This unexpurgated, widely acclaimed translation by H. T. Willetts is the only translation authorized by Solzhenitsyn himself.
“One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich yields, more than anything else, a beautiful sense of its author as a Chekhovian figure: simple, free of literary affectation, wholly serious.” —The New Republic
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, historian, and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature. He served as a decorated commander in the Red Army during World War II before he was arrested for anti-Soviet propaganda and sentenced to eight years in a labor camp, where he drew inspiration for his controversial novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Exiled in 1974, he returned to Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and died in Moscow in 2008.