How was the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich received by those in power in the USSR in 1962?

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Solzhenitsyn wrote this novel, an account of the life of a prisoner in a Stalinist gulag, at a fortunate time. Khrushchev, who had privately denounced Stalin in the late 1950s, publicly embarked on a de-Stalinization campaign in 1961. This encouraged Solzhenitsyn to submit his manuscript, written in 1958-59, to the editor of Novy Mir. Knowing the subject matter to be controversial because it depicted abuses in the Stalinist prison system, the editor, Alexander Tvardovsky, managed to get a meeting with Khrushchev. Khrushchev approved publication of the book in hopes that it would help him gain support for his de-Stalinization efforts. Because of Khrushchev's endorsement, the book received a high level of publicity and was translated and sent to Western countries. It became a Soviet bestseller when it appeared in late 1962 and received positive reviews in Pravda and other Russian outlets. 

Although the book primarily gained approval for its political content, which happened to align with Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalinist policies, its writing reflected the clear, down-to-earth style of socialist realism favored by communists as easy to understand by the common person. 

Later, as Khrushchev faced challenges from Soviet purists, Communist hardliners increasingly attacked the book as straying too far from Communist principles, noting for instance that the book was too universal and not tied enough to communism to be truly an example of socialist realism. But in 1962, with Khrushchev's support, the book was well-received by those in power.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question