One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Start Free Trial

Critical Context (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series)

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

When One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published in 1962, it created a sensation. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was an unknown high school mathematics teacher who wrote in his spare time. Novy Mir, the Moscow literary magazine, published it only after getting permission from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev himself. The little book was quickly translated and published abroad, and foreign publishers sought more material from the eloquent dissident. After Khrushchev fell from power and the anti-Stalinist “thaw” proved temporary, Solzhenitsyn was pressured by Soviet authorities to be silent, but he continued to write. When he was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Soviet Union refused to allow him to go to Sweden to receive the prize. Like Ivan, Solzhenitsyn submitted outwardly, but he continued to write in private.

In 1974, just after the publication of The Gulag Archipelago abroad, the Soviet government exiled him. He settled in Vermont but remained largely in seclusion. Although an eloquent anti-Communist, he did not like the freewheeling materialism of the West either. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia and continued to write and speak as a prophet of conservative and Slavophile virtues.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access



One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich