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“It was a critical book – an entirely objective account of a victim in a labour camp. Just one day in an ordinary labour camp. Not exaggerated, not even a particularly nasty day. The most extraordinary part is how is got printed. It ran contrary to everyone in the Communist Party in Russia, but the Novy Mir editor Tvardovsky snuck a copy in to Khrushchev and said, ‘This is awfully good, you ought to publish it’. And he did. It was an extraordinary stroke of luck. And once it was printed, as Galina put it, ‘The Soviet government had let the genie out of the bottle, and however hard they tried later, they couldn’t put it back in’…After One Day in the Life, Solzhenitsyn didn’t publish anything for a long time, but meanwhile he was hoarding the real killer book – The Gulag Archipelago. When he published that, he was arrested and sent to the West in handcuffs. That’s where I met him, in Zurich in 1976.” Read more...
Robert Conquest, Historian
One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, published in 1962, was based on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s own experience in a camp for political prisoners at Ekibastuz in Kazakhstan.