SOLZHENITSYN, Alexander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1963.
8vo. Original grey cloth and dustwrapper; pp. 160; light rubbing to edges of wrapper, internally near-fine.
First authorised edition in English.
From 1950 to 1953 Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned in the forced-labor camp of Ekibastuz in Kazakhstan, where prisoners were stripped of their names and addressed only by their identifying number. It was this experience which led to One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. By 1959, when Solzhenitsyn was living in Ryazan, he finally sat down to write the book, but only offered it for publication two years later, after Khrushchev’s vociferous attack on Stalin’s “cult of personality” at the Twenty-second Party Congress.
The manuscript was sent to the Moscow journal Novy Mir in 1961, and first appeared in the November 1962 issue, which at that time had a circulation of a little over 100,000. By the second half of the 1960s, prompted by secret instructions, libraries were withdrawing their copies from circulation, and in 1974 the Central Administration for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press issued an administrative order banning all works by Solzhenitsyn from being published in the Soviet Union. By then, however, One Dayhad been read by millions, and had been published in dozens of languages around the world.
As Solzhenitsyn claimed in an interview twenty years later: “the 1962 publication of my tale in the Soviet Union is akin to a phenomenon defying physical laws, something like objects falling upwards of their own accord or cold stones becoming red hot without any external stimulus.” (Natalia Solzhenitsyn, 2012).