Did the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich play a role in the growth of dissidents and/or in the independence movements in the Eastern Bloc countries?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich played an important role in the growth of dissidents, or people who disagreed with Soviet policies, and in the independence movements in the Eastern Bloc nations controlled by the Soviet Union. The book was published in 1962, when the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, allowed a brief thaw in hard-line Soviet ideology in the press. Part of the reason Khrushchev allowed the book to be published was that it criticized the forced labor camps created by Stalin, his predecessor, and he was trying to discredit Stalin. However, Khrushchev fell out of power in 1964, and he was replaced by hardliners who again controlled the press in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.

As a result, dissidents, including activists for independence movements in Eastern Bloc countries, created an underground press, publishing what was called samizdat (which means "I self-publish"). This press became a critical way for dissidents across national lines to share thoughts and press for freedom, and Ivan Denisovich and Solzhenitsyn's other work, The Gulag Archipelago, became part of the samizdat press. This underground press became a way to voice disagreement with the official Soviet line, and Solzhenitsyn became a voice of protest, particularly after he was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974.

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