Sunday, January 25, 2015

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

ISBN: 0-553-24777-8

So the edition of the book that I read is 144 pages long. It is not dense--language is not complex. For some reason, though, it has taken me an unacceptable length of time to get through it. I can't think of any reason other than it just couldn't hold my attention. 

There are no frills and that's fine. I've read novels narrated from the perspective of a blunt third person before. Hemingway, for example, was a master of this technique and I adore most everything that he has written. I don't need sprawling prose in every story I read as long as the content given is interesting.

I guess what I'm saying is I just didn't feel it.

The title of the book tells it all. Ivan Denisovich Shukhov is a prisoner in a Soviet labour camp in Siberia, wrongly convicted, of course, and this is how a day goes for him. It sucks. He's feeling a tad under the weather but doesn't want to risk getting thrown in the equivalent of The Hole for feigning illness just in case his fever goes down. So he goes about his day. He has to march out to a work site in the freezing cold with tattered clothes and boots with holes. And then he has to shingle a roof. Pretty sweet, right?

The highlights of his day include scoring an extra bowl of gruel and having enough money to buy some tobacco.

Although his day didn't seem pleasant in the least and he shouldn't have had to endure any of it to begin with, it could have been much worse. Has anyone seen Oz? He could have had a really bad day...

There is a lot of truth to this fictionalized account: Solzhenitsyn spent eight years in a camp. Maybe ODITLOIDs credence contributed to its high-regard and success.

Perhaps the novel was revolutionary or groundbreaking in 1963 (its first publication,) or maybe the quality is lost in translation.

Whatever it is, I just don't get it. 

Take that, 1960s!

No comments:

Post a Comment