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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich : Popular Penguins : Popular Penguins Ser. - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich : Popular Penguins

Popular Penguins Ser.


Published: 29th June 2009
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This brutal glimpse of Russia under Stalin shocked the world when it first appeared.

Discover the importance of a piece of bread or an extra bowl of soup, the incredible luxury of a book, the ingenious possibilities of a nail, a piece of string or a single match in a time where survival is all. Enter a world of incarceration - and participate in the struggle of men to survive both the terrible rigours of nature and the inhumanity of the system that defines their conditions of life.

About The Author

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was born at Kislovodsk in 1918. After graduating at Rostov University in mathematics—he took a correspondence course in literature simultaneously—he was called up for the army. He served continuously at the front as a gunner and artillery officer, was twice decorated, commanded his battery, and reached the rank of captain. In early 1945 he was arrested in an East Prussian village and charged with making derogatory remarks about Stalin. For the next eight years he was in labor camps, at first in 'general' camps along with common criminals in the Arctic and later in Beria's 'special' camps for long-term prisoners. The particular camp described in his book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was in the region of Karaganda in northern Kazakhstan. Released in 1953, on Stalin's death, Solzhenitsyn had to remain in exile for three years although his wife was allowed to join him, before returning to Russia. He settled near Ryazan and taught in a secondary school. In 1961 he submitted his novel, One Day ..., to Aleksandr Tvardovsky, the poet and editor of Novy Mir (New World), a literary journal; it was published, on the final decision of Khrushchev himself, in the November 1962 edition of Novy Mir, which sold out immediately.

Three further stories by him were published during 1963 and a fourth in 1966. In 1968 Solzhenitsyn came under attack from the Russian Literary Gazette, which alleged that since 1967 his aim in life had been to oppose the basic principles of Soviet literature, and accused him of being content with the role given him by ideological enemies of Russia. He was expelled from the Soviet Writers' Union in 1969 and in 1974, after the publication in Europe of his book The Gulag Archipelago, he was arrested by the authorities and deported. August 1914, Cancer Ward, The Love-girl and the Innocent (a play), Matryona's House and Other Stories, Candle in the Wind (a play) and Lenin in Zurich are all published by Penguin. The Red Wheel series—of which August 1914 is the initial volume—is his most recent work. In 1970 Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

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 window-panes 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.

The clanging ceased, but everything outside still looked like the middle of the night when Ivan Denisovich Shukhov got up to go to the bucket. It was pitch dark except for the yellow light cast on the window by three lamps - two in the outer zone, one inside the camp itself.

And no one came to unbolt the barrack-hut door; there was no sound of the barrack-orderlies pushing a pole into place to lift the barrel of nightsoil and carry it out.

Shukhov never overslept reveille. He always got up at once, for the next ninety minutes, until they assembled for work, belonged to him, not to the authorities, and any old-timer could always earn a bit - by sewing a pair of over-mittens for someone out of old sleeve lining; or bringing some rich lag in the team his dry valenki* (*Knee-Length felt boots for winter wear.) - right up to his bunk, so that he wouldn't have to stumble barefoot round the heaps of boots looking for his own pair; or going the rounds of the store-huts, offering to be of service, sweeping up this or fetching that; or going to the mess-hall to collect bowls from the tables and bring them stacked to the dishwashers - you're sure to be given something to eat there, though there were plenty of others at that game, more than plenty - and, what's worse, if you found a bowl with something left in it you could hardly resist licking it out. But Shukhov had never forgotten the words of his first team-leader, Kuziomin - a hard-bitten prisoner who had already been in for twelve years by 1943 - who told the newcomers, just in from the front, as they sat beside a fire in a desolate cutting in the forest:

'Here, lads, we live by the law of the taiga. But even here people manage to live. D'you know who are the ones the camps finish off? Those who lick other men's Ieft-overs, those who set store by the doctors, and those who peach on their mates.'

As for the peachers, he was wrong there. Those people were sure to get through the camp all right. Only, they were saving their own skin at the expense of other people's blood.

Shukhov always arose at reveille. But this day he didn't. He had felt queer the evening before, feverish, with pains all over his body. He hadn't been able to get warm all through the night. Even in his sleep he had felt at one moment that he was getting seriously ill, at another that he was getting better. He had longed for the morning not to come.

But the morning came as usual.

Anyway, it wasn't surprising that he'd felt cold in the night. That ice on the window-panes! And the white cobwebs of hoar-frost all along the huge hut where the walls joined the ceiling.

He didn't get up. He lay there in his bunk on the top tier, his head buried in a blanket and a coat, his two feet stuffed into one sleeve, with the end tucked under, of his wadded jacket. He couldn't see, but his ears told him everything going on in the barrack-room and especially in the corner his team occupied. He heard the heavy tread of the orderlies carrying one of the big barrels of nightsoil along the passage outside. A light job, that was considered, a job for the infirm, but just you try and carry out the muck without spilling any. He heard some of the 75th slamming bunches of boots on to the floor from the drying-shed. Now their own lads were doing it (it was their own team's turn, too, to dry valenki). Tiurin, the team-leader, and his deputy Pavlo put on their valenki without a word but he heard their bunks creaking. Now Pavlo would be going off to the bread-stores and Tiurin to the staff quarters to see the P.P.D.* (Production Planning Department)

ISBN: 9780141045351
ISBN-10: 0141045353
Series: Popular Penguins Ser.
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 144
Published: 29th June 2009
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 17.9 x 11.0  x 1.3
Weight (kg): 0.08
Edition Number: 1