One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Paperback Book

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Paperback

Part of the Penguin Modern Classics series

3.5 out of 5 (5 ratings)


Bringing into harsh focus the daily struggle for existence in a Soviet gulag, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is translated by Ralph Parker in Penguin Modern Classics.

This brutal, shattering glimpse of the fate of millions of Russians under Stalin shook Russia and 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 world where survival is all.

Here safety, warmth and food are the first objectives.

Reading it, you enter a world of incarceration, brutality, hard manual labour and freezing cold - 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.Though twice-decorated for his service at the front during the Second World War, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was arrested in 1945 for making derogatory remarks about Stalin, and sent to a series of brutal Soviet labour camps in the Arctic Circle, where he remained for eight years.

Released after Stalin's death, he worked as a teacher, publishing his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich with the approval of Nikita Khrushchev in 1962, to huge success.

His 1967 novel Cancer Ward, as well as his magnum opus The Gulag Archipelago, were not as well-received by Soviet authorities, and not long after being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970, Solzhenitsyn was deported from the USSR.

In 1994, after twenty years in exile, Solzhenitsyn made his long-awaited return to Russia.If you enjoyed One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, you might also like Yevgeny Zamyatin's We, available in Penguin Classics.'It is a blow struck for human freedom all over the world ... and it is gloriously readable'Sunday Times


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • ISBN: 9780141184746



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

Like Joyce's "Ulysses," this is a single day's worth of experiences transposed onto the page. Here, the context is Russia in the time of the purges and Siberian labour camps.Solzhenitsyn's writing is hauntingly simple. He decides early on that a matter-of-fact attitude is most likely to succeed, and it does; by the end of the twenty-four hours, it is impossible not to feel sympathy for Denisovich, and anger at his situation.

Review by

When I was at university, I had free time so I bought this and read it in the sun underneath a tree in true student fashion. I finished it in an afternoon. It was a perfect day.

Review by

I really enjoyed this book. It is set in a 'special' Russian hard labour camp and it portrays the hardships and how important the smallest things in life become. It is also frightening just how little could get you interred into one of these camps. An educational and thought provoking read that I would recommend.

Review by

If you can't face the idea of reading the entirety of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, this makes a good second choice. It follows a day in the life of one of the prisoners in a Russian gulag, and touches on a lot of issues that faced them -- and, of course, the author really was one of those prisoners himself, so it is very close to not being fiction at all. It's not an easy read, emotionally, but it's easier than Gulag Archipelago for sure.When I read Gulag Archipelago, I was sure that the very existence of such accounts would help to prevent such a thing from happening again. I'm less sure, now. But it's still worth reading to understand the depths to which we can sink.

Review by
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is an exposé of the brutal treatment millions of Russians suffered at the hands of their own government under Stalin. Rightfully then, this is a shocking and revealing book that shows the brutalisation and inhumanity suffered by the inmates of the Gulag, imposed on them by their fellow countrymen.

Through the eyes of Ivan Denisovich the reader sees one day in his decade-long sentence and how he and the fellow members of his work team struggle to cope in the frigidly cold of Siberian winters. Yet, its characterisation feels at times flat and the monotony present in the daily life of both Ivan Denisovich and Aleksandr Solzhentitsyn breaks through too much.

However, what this book truly does well is serve as a powerful and frightening indictment of the brutality of the Soviet system and forces the reader to once more ponder man's own mistreatment of his fellow human beings and the depths to which such mistreatment can sink.

Also in the Penguin Modern Classics series   |  View all