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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

At one point in the book, Shukhov overhears someone refer to Stalin as "Old Whiskers" (1054). This is actually a reference to the term that got Solzhenitsyn arrested; he wrote a letter to a friend referring to Stalin as "the whiskered one" and was charged with anti-government sentiments and sentenced to the gulag in 1945. Solzhenitsyn wouldn't be released from jail until 1953. (Source: Parker, Ralph. "Introduction." One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Penguin Classics: 2000.)

Solzhenitsyn himself had more in common with prisoners like Tsezar than with Shukhov. Solzhenitsyn was college-educated and was a ranking officer in the Soviet army at the time of his arrest in 1945. (Source: Parker, Ralph. "Introduction." One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Penguin Classics: 2000.)

All the early editions of One Day contained some degree of censorship, either by Soviet authorities or by Solzhenitsyn himself, who omitted details like the fact that Shukhov was tortured into confessing to a crime, in order to avoid trouble with the authorities. (Source: Willetts, H.T. "Forward." One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Translated by H.T. Willetts. Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 1991.)

Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, but wasn't allowed to accept it in person till four years later. Solzhenitsyn was afraid to leave Russia for fear that he wouldn't be allowed back. He was actually expelled from Russia and stripped of his citizenship in 1974, and Solzhenitsyn and his family settled in Vermont. He finally returned to Russia in 1994, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, where he lived till his death in 2008. (Source)

Solzhenitsyn's most monumental work, The Gulag Archipelago, was published in the West in 1973 and had to be smuggled back into the Soviet Union, where people read it in secret. (Source: "Introduction." Edward Ericson. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Penguin Classics: 2002.)

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