One Day in the Life

Topics: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russia, Gulag Pages: 135 (51473 words) Published: February 21, 2013
by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Translated from the Russian by Ralph Parker
With an Introduction by Marvin L Kalb
English translation copyright 1963 by E.P. Dutton, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc., New York, and Victor Gollancz, Ltd., London All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper or broadcast.

This novel was first published in the Russian language in the U.S.S.R. in the magazine _Novy Mir_, November 1962.
The raw materlal of life whilch serves as a basis for A. Solzhenitsyn's story is unusual In Soviet literature. It carries within itself an echo of the painful features In our developmeat related to the cult of personality that has been debunked and repudiated by the Party, features that, although they are not so far away from us in time, nevertheless seem to us to be in the distant past. But the past, no matter what it was like, never becomes a matter of indifference to the present. The assurance of a complete and irrevocable break with everything which beclouds the past lies in a true and courageous comprehension of its full consequences. It was about this that N. S. Khrushchev spoke in his concluding words at the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, words so memorable for all of us: "It is our duty to gain a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the nature of the matters related to the abuse of power. Time will pass and we shall die, we are all mortal, but so long as we work we can and must clear up many points and tell the truth to the Party and to the people. . . . . . This we must do so that such things never happen again." _One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich_ is not a document in the sense of being a memoir, nor is it notes or reminiscences of the author's personal experiences, although only such personal experiences could lend this story its sense of genuine authenticity.

This is a work of art and it is by virtue of the artistic interpretation of this material from life that it is a witness of special value, a document of an art which up to now had seemed to have few possibilities. The reader will not find in A. Solzhenitsyn's story an allencompassing portrayal of that historic period which is particularly marked by the bitter memory of the year 1937. The content of _One Day_ is naturally limited in time and place of action and the horizons of the main hero of the story. But in the writing of A. Solzhenitsyn, who here enters the literary scene for the first time, one day in the life

of the camp prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, develops into a picture which gives extraordinary vitality and fidelity to the truthfulness of its human characters. Herein above all lies the uncommon power of the work to impress. The reader can visualize for himself many of the people depicted here in the tragic role of camp inmates in other situations-- at the front or at postwar construction sites. They are the same people who by the will of circumstance have been put to severe physical and moral tests under special and extreme conditions.

In this story there is no deliberate concentration of terrible facts of the cruelty and arbitrariness that were the result of the violation of Soviet legality. The author chose instead to portray only one of the most ordinary of days in the life at camp from reveille to retreat. Nevertheless this "ordinary" day cannot but arouse in the heart of the reader a bitter feeling of pain for the fate of the people who, from the pages of this story, rise up before us so alive and so near. Yet the unquestionable victory of the artist lies in the fact that the bitterness and the pain have nothing In common with a feeling of hopeless depression. On the...
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