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MonkeyNotes-One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich
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Literary Background

During Solzhenitsyn’s time in Russia, the common man had become a puppet in the hands of arbitrary rulers and a corrupt bureaucracy. Solzhenitsyn voiced his protest against the Soviet regime and wrote articles against the policies of Stalin. As a result, he was sentenced for an eight-year term and spent time in one of the Siberian labor camps. As a result, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is highly autobiographical in nature. The protagonist, Ivan Denisovich, resembles his creator, Alexander Solzhenitsyn in several ways. Both of them had been soldiers. Alexander joined the Red Army after Germany invaded Russia; he rose to the position of captain before being arrested for his criticism of Stalin. Ivan joined in the army in 1941 and was captured by the Germans. He managed to escape with some fellow soldiers, all of whom returned to the Russian line. They were promptly arrested under suspicion of treason and sent to a labor camp. Alexander endured eight years as a prisoner in several locations. Ivan is in his eighth year of a ten-year year sentence. Both Ivan and Alexander try to have a positive attitude about their miserable experiences in camp in order to stay alive.


Many critics feel that Alexander Solzhenitsyn was influenced by Doestoevsky’s Letters from the House of the Dead, which relates the author’s experiences in prison under the Czarist regime. However, the plight of the prisoners under the Czar was much more humane than the plight of the prisoners under Stalin’s regime. Both the novels are alike in the sense they reveal the feelings of prisoners in a Russian labor camp. Both also succeed in capturing the Soviet society of their times.

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