Wednesday, January 05, 2011

52 Books, Book 2

My number two book for the year is another novel that takes place in Russia. One of the things that makes "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn so intriguing is that this is the ONLY book by Solzhenitsyn to be published in Russia. That it was published at all is surprising given the content.

The book details the day of one prisoner as he goes about life in a labor camp. The specifics give true incite into what one of these camp's must have been like {Solzhenitsyn had first-hand knowledge after spending nearly a decade in a work camp in Siberia for making derogatory statements about Stalin in a letter}. In addition, there are several references to one prisoner's belief in God. 

I won't say that I was enamored by the book, but I think that the circumstances surrounding the book make it a worthy read.

Excerpts from the book:
When you are cold, you don't expect sympathy from someone who's warm.
Easy money doesn't weigh anything and it doesn't give you that good feeling you get when you really earn it. The old saying was true – what you don't pay for honestly, you don't get good value for.
...He {the cook} had a trusty who carried it for him. He thought it was better to slip an extra portion of the stuff to a trusty at the expense of the prisoner's bellies than to break his own back. Then there was water and firewood to carry and the stove to light. The cook didn't do that either. He had other prisoner's and "goners" to do it. And they got their cut too. It's easy to give away things that don't belong to you.
"The thing is, you can pray as much as you like, but they won't take anything off your sentence and you'll just have to sit it out, every day, from reveille to lights out." – Shukhov
"You mustn't pray for that... What do you want your freedom for? What faith you have left will be choked in thorns. Rejoice that you are in prison. Here you can think of your soul." – Alyoshka

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