Alexander Solzhenitsyn Nobel Prize Winner Author A moral indictment of the Soviet Gulaghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Day_in_the_Life_of_Ivan_Denisovich http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20216696,00.html
http://geocurrents.info/ wp- content/uploads/2012/0 4/Gulag_map1.jpgFrom 1929, when the Gulag first expanded, to its apex in 1953 when Stalin died,it is estimated that 18 million people were sent to the Gulag.• Six million were sent into prison or exiled elsewhere.• Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History, calculates that 3 million died directly from being in the Gulag.• At its height there were 476 separate prison camps.
Alexander Solzhenitzyn• Solzhenitsyn, after having been a German POW in WWII, spent 8 years in the Gulag, like many others, convicted of having been sent back to the USSR to spy for the Germans.• During the Khrushchev thaw he was “rehabilitated” and allowed to return home.• One Day was set in the Soviet Gulag of the 1950s; it was published in 1962 in the USSR, after Khrushchev had denounced Stalin’s excesses.• In 1970 Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in Literature.• He also wrote The First Circle, Cancer Ward and The Gulag Archipelago, all critical of the Soviet Union, and then he was expelled from the USSR in 1974.• He returned to Russia in 1994, and he died there in 2008.
Themes• The inhumanity in the Gulag – The arbitrary and senseless rules – The disregard for human life and suffering• Isolation from loved ones• Resourcefulness• Human beings’ resilience / survival instinct• Camaraderie• The small blessings / triumphs in each day
Questions to consider as you read• Be sure to read the foreword and introduction before you read the book.• What aspects of the book are the most realistic? – That is, how can you tell that Solzhenitsyn had been in the Gulag himself?• The book caused a huge sensation in the Soviet Union when it was published. – What do you think Soviet citizens were thinking as they read the book? – What would the people of the USSR have found most disturbing or remarkable?