My choice of book for this week’s Friday meme combo is One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This is one of my favourite books of all time and it is probably about time to read it again. Every time I read it, I’m grateful for the life I have, even though there are times I may complain. According to GoodReads:
Solzhenitsyn’s first book, this economical, relentless novel is one of the most forceful artistic indictments of political oppression in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The simply told story of a typical, grueling day of the titular character’s life in a labor camp in Siberia, is a modern classic of Russian literature and quickly cemented Solzhenitsyn’s international reputation upon publication in 1962. It is painfully apparent that Solzhenitsyn himself spent time in the gulags–he was imprisoned for nearly a decade as punishment for making derogatory statements about Stalin in a letter to a friend.
Now for this week’s excerpts:
Book Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post. If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’
The first paragraph of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich:
At five o’clock that morning reveille was sounded, as usual, by the blows of a hammer on a length of rail hanging up near the staff quarters. The intermittent sounds barely penetrated the windowpanes on which the frost lay two fingers thick, and they ended almost as soon as they’d began. It was cold outside, and the campguard was reluctant to go on beating out the reveille for long.
And so begins another day in the gulag. I feel chilly just reading that and can’t imagine having to wake up that early to that.
The Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
It’s that simple.
From page 56 of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich:
“You’ve been in for eight years, Vanya,” Kilgas argued. “But what camps? Not ‘specials.’ You had broads to sleep with. You didn’t wear numbers. But try and spend eight years in a ‘special’ – doing hard labor. No one’s come out of a ‘special’ alive.”
“Broads! Boards, you mean, not broads.”
That’s it for this week. I’ll probably read this book again some time during the summer. It’s not a long read, but it is always worth it.