Talk:One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

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Former featured article candidate One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
March 2, 2008 Featured article candidate Not promoted


Shows that communism is evil- LordVin1

I think this belongs at [[One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich]] instead. [1]

I agree. I'll move it now. --Mihai 05:43, 6 Feb 2004 (UTC)

This article is good, but seems slightly biased. (User: forgot to sign)

Biased in what direction - other than needing some cleaning? Rkevins82 05:29, 13 August 2005 (UTC)

Is this line appropriate: 'Upon reading the first chapter we are startled by the cold temperatures even for us who live in a northern climate.' ? I suggest it be removed or edited. -- mjohnson 06/02/06

I have never felt so cold in my life reading that book and always think of it when we have cold snaps...I'm an Aussie so it's almost incomprehensible...but not quite, because of Solzhenitsyn's genius.-- (talk) 05:40, 9 January 2010 (UTC)-- (talk) 05:40, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

"Another man, Alyoshka, takes his pleasure from God. He said he'd actually rather be in the camps where he can read the Bible and pray than outside the camps where he would not be free to worship as he pleased." Alyoshka was not free to pray in the camps either. However Alyoshka did tell Ivan that in the camps they would not be distracted from the bible. "Why d'you want freedom? In freedom your last grain of faith will be chocked with weeds. You should rejoice that you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul." -- Frostickle 28/Apr/2006


"The book has been criticised for it's "pro smoking" themes."

By whom? Is this some kind of crap joke?
That's hilarious... my one laugh-out-loud moment of the day. -Rolypolyman 23:02, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Whoever wrote this plot summary has a SERIOUSLY skewed interpretation of the novella. This novel isn't about one man's happiness - it's tragic and an indictment of the Soviet system. Solzhenitsyn, in fact, was exiled in 75 from Russia accepting the Nobel Prize for his critical words.

I disagree. This book is not just a Sinclairian referendum of a subhuman institution, it is also an introspective journey into a prisoner's motivation to survive and fight for something to live for. A comparable work is Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning", although that book is a memoir, not a novel. 10:18, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

More than one translation by Ralph Parker[edit]

The beginning of the article mentions only one but there have been at least two, I'm pretty sure... I have two copies, both translated by Ralph Parker, but they're a little bit different. I'm not sure how different but I know that they are different. One is this one: and one is this: - Jarn 02:06, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

The article states that the Willetts translation was the only one authorized by the author, but the cover of the 1963 Dutton edition, Parker translation, says "ONLY AUTHORIZED EDITION." Dynzmoar 16:53, 30 November 2007 (UTC)


What the hell is the main theme for this novella? I mean the general theme? Oppression under Soviet rule? LOTRrules 21:35, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Oppression and imprisonment, I'd say.Communisthamster (talk) 01:15, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Oppression under Soviet rule, and imprisonment, in general are good guesses I'd say. But one theme seems to me to be the loss of individual identity in the Gulag camp system. This ties in with the general loss of individual identity of "Russian" communism, which was surely corrupted from the original intention of communist/socialist ideologists (i.e. what Marx really intended ?)...Its also a stab at any sort of "big brother" least, thats my best guess. Hope it makes at least some sense...Engr105th (talk) 02:59, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
If you can cite a verifiable and reliable source, such as a book review, for your interpretation, it would be a useful addition to the article. We can't do original research. --Jtir (talk) 15:24, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Understood; thanks...By way of explanantion, I was intending to respond to posts by LOTRules above in order to make suggestions as to what to look for. Wasn't asking that my remarks be accepted as text for the article...As an aside, this book has been heavily reviewed, but the problem is that most reviews probably pre-date the internet - so locating them quickly (and posting where others can see/critique) may be problematic. Engr105th (talk) 03:04, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the responses, anyway why not include this in the article? The book was highly controversial... LOTRrules (talk) 22:46, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
"reviews probably pre-date the internet": That's fine. You don't have to cite sources that are online. Book reviews, articles, commentaries by translators, critical introductions, etc. would all be excellent sources. --Jtir (talk) 23:08, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Plot summary last paragraph[edit]

"Alexander Solzhenitsyn had first-hand experience in the Soviet prison system. He was imprisoned in the gulag from 1945 to 1953, allegedly for insulting Stalin by calling him "Old Whiskers" in a letter to one of his friends[citation needed]. The novel's understated style (such as Shukhov's oddly normal-sounding interior narration) against the actual horrors of the camp combine to make the book a thorough indictment of Stalin's prisons and the system that sustained them."

Why do we need a citation? The book itself in the prelogue talks of why Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned. I'm removing this. LOTRrules (talk) 22:51, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

I was wondering why you removed that. It needs a citation, because there are several translations, presumably with different introductions by different people. The citation would simply say "Introduction by so-and-so to someone's translation, p. xx". Actually the whole section you quoted needs to be sourced, because it is critical commentary (e.g. "understated style"), and WP editors cannot write their own. IMO, inline quotes are the easiest way to introduce this type of commentary. --Jtir (talk) 23:22, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I should have looked closer. That is not really plot summary, it is "Influences" and "Critical commentary". Unfortunately, if two new sections were added, they would each have one sentence. --Jtir (talk) 23:33, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I changed it to prelogue not history because history would mainly have to do with how the book was writen and era etc etc... LOTRrules (talk) 17:50, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
OK. I am still confused about who the author of the Prelogue is. Is it Solzhenitsyn or someone else? (Unfortunately, I don't have any copies ATM). --Jtir (talk) 20:16, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
It's someone else. It's written like " Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned...later released...exiled..." - I have the copy here and apparantly (meaning I think) it could have been him in the original but not in the others - the translators must have written that part from another perspective - but I'll try and find a quote from a book or something in my local library - it is going to be hard...LOTRrules (talk) 23:49, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the info. That sounds like a translator's or editor's introduction. Who is the translator? (sometimes this is hard to determine -- the copyright page might say.)
BTW, the Parker translation uses "Old Whiskers" on p. 126, and there is a footnote saying that means "Stalin". You can [ search the text] at (If you are registered, you can log in and see the whole page.) --Jtir (talk) 12:25, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, the translator of the one I am holding right now is Raplh Parker, publisher is Penguin Classics, by the way thanks for the Amazon tip, I think its the same translator, I think I have the exact same book as the one on Amazon, cover might be diferent but the author is more or less likely the same. LOTRrules (talk) 21:14, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
How do we get the CITATION? LOTRrules (talk) 21:14, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
That's excellent! The Parker translation is already in the Bibliography. If you can find something in the Introduction (could be called Foreword or Preface) that says something similar, we can add a Note with the name of the person who wrote the Introduction and the page number (that is all a citation is). If you want to put it here instead, I can add it to the article. If you can't find something about "Old Whiskers", you can write something else that can be sourced from your copy and that can be added. Sometimes I am looking for one thing and find something else instead, so I go with that. BTW, the version on doesn't seem to have an Introduction, unfortunately. --Jtir (talk) 21:39, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

The Willetts translation uses "Old Man Whiskers" (p. 139 of the Knopf edition, which I have from the library). --Jtir (talk) 23:00, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

"In early 1945he was arrested in an East Prussian and charged with making derogatory comments about Stalin...first in 'general' camps then 'special' camps..."

- Are you sure we can use THIS as a citation alone? Seems a bit empty...It doesn't say SPECIFICALLY that he called Stalin "Old Whishers" but it's definatley there on pg.126 ...I need some help with this...what do we do? The introduction is not detailed enough (I think), it's about a page long and this is all I could find. LOTRrules (talk) 22:13, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

We are very close. John Bayley in his intro. to the Knopf edition of the Willetts trans. says AS was arrested "for writing disrepectful comments about Stalin in a letter to a fellow officer on another part of the front." He doesn't say what the "comments" were either! Nor does the WP article on AS. We may need a bio to find out what he actually wrote. There is a chronology in the Knopf edition that says he was arrested in 1945 and released from "labour camp" in 1953. For now we can dodge the problem by saying something like: '... arrested for comments about Stalin, whom he later called "Old Whiskers" in ODITLOID.' We could cite the Parker translation for that last clause. How does that sound? --Jtir (talk) 22:54, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
IT SOUNDS FINE! LOTRrules (talk) 17:00, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Russian for "Old Whiskers"[edit]

This appears to be the Russian sentence that uses "Old Whiskers".

  • А в комнате орут: — Пожале-ет вас батька усатый! Он брату родному не поверит, не то что вам, лопухам!

Babelfish translates this as:

  • But in the room they yell: - will be sorry you father moustached! He brother native will not believe, not the fact that to you, to burdocks!

And Willetts as:

  • "Somebody in the room was bellowing: "Old Man Whiskers won't ever let you go! He wouldn't trust his own brother, let alone a bunch of cretins like you!"


  • усатый -> whiskered [2]
  • батька -> father(?) [3]
  • бать -> gaffer [4]
  • лопухам -> burdocks (literally?) [5]

I'm guessing that "батька" could be translated as "little old guy".

--Jtir (talk) 00:18, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

Batya (батя) and the diminished bat'ka (батька) are an old russian word for father. While not very prominent in modern Russian, it is used in Ukrainian and other languages. For instance, in Ukrainian, bat'kivshchina means "fatherland" - like Russian "otechestvo". So an accurate translation wouldn't be "little old guy", it would have to be something in between "father", "leader" and "older man" (ie. relatively older), but diminished. Not sure there is a good english word or a group of words to properly translate this. With respect, Ko Soi IX (talk) 00:49, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for your insights into the meaning of bat'ka (батька). You reminded me that I overlooked the description provided by, because it didn't look like a definition:
  • батька: общ. batka (От белорус. "отец". Иногда применяется по отн. к президенту Белоруссии Лукашенко)
  • batka: obshch.(?) batka (From Belorussian. "otets" ("father"). Sometimes applied to Belorussian President Lukashenko) (per Babelfish, multitran)
So my understanding is that the term is respectful, yet familiar, outside the context of Solzhenitsyn's novel.
--Jtir (talk) 21:36, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
Kotov in Burnt by the Sun? --Jtir (talk) 21:44, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
Haven't seen that movie, and likely never will. However, to the main point. Bat'ka is not nessesarily respectful (and definately wasn't in the contest of the quote). Like, father, leader and older man don't nessesarily mean "respect". They just define a social position. With respect, Ko Soi IX (talk) 04:14, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
OK. Thanks. --Jtir (talk) 11:35, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

FA Status[edit]

How about we go for the ultimate rating? The article looks fine and if anybody else is willing we can work together to get this up to featured status. So what do you say? Anyone out there? In an actual fact this did win the Nobel Prize... should be easy then. —Preceding unsigned comment added by LOTRrules (talkcontribs) 01:03, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

  • I say go for it. But, you need to be sure that the citations are correct and you are right WRT facts: the Nobel Prize was awarded "For the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature". No specific mention of Ivan's day. Also, if you haven't already got it, you need to see, <ref name="Klimof"> Alexis Klimof, One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovish; A critical Companion. ISBN 0-8101-1214-0</ref>. If you go for FA without it—beware. --GrahamColmTalk 02:24, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
Okay, and thanks LOTRrules (talk) 18:36, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Critical commentary & Quote[edit]

Shouldn't the quote be in the commentary section? Seems a bit tedious and pointless to have it at the end of the plot. And the commentary section is wriiten like a review - seems familiar, not sure if it is copyright...anyway we should get a review from website or magazine/journal's that prove this is true. LOTRrules (talk) 01:13, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Additional Quotes[edit]

I think we should get more quotes from this book which higlighted the main theme. Such as Volkovoi's use of the whip and the cook's unnourishing food which highlighted cruelty, oppression, dehumanization and starvation. LOTRrules (talk) 01:19, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

I'll try and find some from the Parker translation. LOTRrules (talk) 01:25, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
Please don't use the Parker translation, it's very poor. Use Willetts. I have all of them here and Willetts' is the most loyal to the original Russian. The best quote IMO is:
GrahamColmTalk 02:09, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
The Willetts translation is online as a web page, so it is very easy to copy quotes from it. --Jtir (talk) 18:57, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Who wrote the introduction to the Parker translation?[edit]

For a complete citation, we will need to say who wrote the introduction to the Parker translation. I have a Signet Classics edition (1998) of the Parker translation with a foreword by Aleksandr Tvardovsky (it is unclear, but presumably this is from Novy Mir) and an introduction by Yevgeny Yevtushenko. --Jtir (talk) 19:13, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

You mean the reception? I did. I thought it would be relavent sine it is the first English translation. Even thought the Willit's is by far the best the Parker one is just as significant. LOTRrules (talk) 22:51, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
Oh...wait. The introduction to the Parker translation was written by Parker himself. Are oyu working to get the article featured too? Because if this is a problem we'll need to sort it out. This section (Parker translation) in the book is short biography written by Parker himself LOTRrules (talk) 22:51, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
That's why I thought it was relavent LOTRrules (talk) 22:53, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for clearing that up. Citing Parker's intro. is fine. I amended the bibrec to say that he wrote the intro. --Jtir (talk) 23:00, 19 February 2008 (UTC)


Hi, I have a fairly good Solzhenitsyn collection, (see the photograph on my user page), I would be very pleased to help with sources, (page numbers and so forth), if you need it for this v. important article.--GrahamColmTalk 23:11, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

That would be terrific. Are all those books related to AS? And I see that you have Russian language expertise too. --Jtir (talk) 23:16, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I've been collecting Solzhenitsyn since 1968 and can provide most of the citations that this article will eventually need. :-) Best wishes, Graham. --GrahamColmTalk 19:39, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

One Day and the Nobel Prize[edit]

I reworded the statement about the Nobel Prize, because I could find only one source that mentions the Nobel Prize and One Day together. Klimoff only quotes the Nobel citation in a chronology on p. 35. Klimoff can be searched online here. Did I introduce an inconsistency with any other sources? I'm also wondering why there are so many citations saying that he won the Nobel Prize. That is not at all controversial.

Also, I am puzzled about this phrase in the Notes: ".. and notes on the controversies of the books publication". Where is that from?

--Jtir (talk) 23:12, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

  • "Did I introduce an inconsistency with any other sources?"
What dio you mean?
  • I'm also wondering why there are so many citations saying that he won the Nobel Prize. That is not at all controversial."
Well, you see Solzhenitsyn (AS) didn't accept the NPforL in Sweden because he thought Russia would target him (again). This is also translated in the Parker edition that belongs to me. I, however don't know if he accepted it later on. This did lead to further controversy within the Soviet Union. But only for a while, he was again considered "evil-anti-Soviet" by critics. LOTRrules (talk) 17:42, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
OK. I reworded the note to say that he accepted the prize in 1974 after being deported from the USSR. (That's what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says, although there is no citation.)
Re. inconsistency: I believe you were citing Parker for the first sentence about the role of One Day in AS receiving the Prize. After rewording, I was wondering if it still agrees with Parker. I am also wondering whether the Enc. Brit. is needed as a source now for that sentence. --Jtir (talk) 00:24, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

AS referred to Stalin as the moustached one[edit]

[Copied from User talk:GrahamColm#Russian for "Old Whiskers" in One Day] --Jtir (talk) 18:54, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Do you know of a source that explicitly says AS was arrested for referring to Stalin as "Old Whiskers"? The article is citing "Current Biography, 1969", which seems reliable, but it would be nice to know more details. --Jtir (talk) 23:35, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

In the letters AS often referred to Stalin as the moustached one, but the truth of the circumsatnces surrounding his arrest are far more complex; he was accused of anti-soviet propaganda under Article 58 of the soviet criminal code paragraph 10, and of "founding a hostile organisation" under paragraph 11. These were complex laws at the time. AS was not arrested for using a euphemism for Stalin; he was arrested because of his criticisms. It's become a myth that AS was arrested because of a "quip"—he was not. He was seen, albeit in a time of Stalinist paranoia, as a threat to the soviet system. Ironically, history has proved the stalinists right in this regard. For details of this you need to see. <ref>Scammell, Michael. Solzhenitsyn, A biography, (1984), pages, 152-154,Paladin. ISBN 0-586-08538-6</ref> and Bjökegrens, Hans. A biography of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. (1972), Introduction, ISBN 0-85628-005-4</ref>. —Preceding unsigned comment added by GrahamColm (talkcontribs) 00:07, February 20, 2008

suggested references[edit]

These are some suggestions from User:GrahamColm for references. Copied from User talk:LOTRrules. --Jtir (talk) 22:03, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

  • Kathryn Feuer (Ed). Solzhenitsyn: A collection of Critical Essays. (1976). Spectrum Books, ISBN 0-13-822619
  • Christopher Moody. Solzhenitsyn. (1973). Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh ISBN 0-05-002600-3
  • Leopold Labedz. Solzhenitsyn: A documentary record. (1970). Penguin ISBN 0-014-00.3395.5
  • Michael Scammell, Solzhenitsyn. (1986). Paladin. ISBN 0-586-08538-6
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Invisible Allies,. (Translated by Alexis Klimoff and Michael Nicholson). (1995). The Harvill Press ISBN 1-86046-259-6
  • Giovanni Grazzini. Solzhenitsyn. (Translated by Eric Mosbacher) (1971). Michael Joseph, ISBN 0-7181-1068-4
  • David Burg and George Feifer. Solzhenitsyn: A Biography. (1972). ISBN 0-340-16593-6
  • Zhores Medvedev. 10 Years After Ivan Denisovich. (Translated by Hilary Steinberg). (1973). Macmillan, London.SBN 33-15217-4
  • Abraham Rothberg. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Major Novels. (1971). Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-0668-4
  • Dostoevsky's The House of the Dead


I've written the theme and I'm going to get the citations later on. Watch this space LOTRrules (talk) 19:26, 27 February 2008 (UTC)

I've done the citationa. The theme section is complete LOTRrules (talk) 16:22, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Socialist Realism[edit]

It has been some time since I have read the novel, but I remember that one of the interesting points about it from a stylistic point of view is that it takes the rules of Socialist Realism and turns them on their head - e.g., the focus on a single day with a single goal, distortions in time that allow impossible things to be done, etc. If someone has read the novel more recently and has a cite to some critical literature on this, it would really help put the novel into the broader context of 20th Century Russian lit. -- (talk) 21:01, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Plot - minor mistake[edit]

I've read this book many times, and I know that there are 24 men in gang 104 - not 23. Only 23 go out to work because Panteleyev stays behind to snitch, but he is still a member of the gang. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:13, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

The Theme[edit]

The novel is popular because it describes the human condition--we are all trying to survive from day to day, whether in a gulag or working at some minimum wage retail job here in tne USA. This is its universal appeal...we are all oppressed. This is its THEME. (Anyone out there ever known real freedom?) I remember first reading it in high school and thinking, "This describes high school perfectly". This is the mantra: "Do what you are told, believe what we tell you to believe, work harder, faster, longer, for less and less pay, or you will be punished". --That's one day in the life of an American worker, alright. Okay, hope I cleared up the "theme" question. (talk) 21:02, 15 June 2010 (UTC)Sgt. Rock


So it says that Senka molested bodies of dead children. I'll leave it up because I might have missed something but I'm pretty sure that's not true. So if no one can give evidence of this I'll take it down/ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blt33 (talkcontribs) 03:02, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

I'm sorry that I did not get to this sooner. Another editor has reverted the edit in question. The original text is, "Сенька Клевшйн — он тихий, бедолага. Ухо у него лопнуло одно, ещё в сорок первом." Willets translates this to, "A quiet fellow, Senka Klevshin. One of the poor devil's ear drums had burst back in '41." The edit was vandalism. Thanks to you and the IP editor for spotting this. Graham Colm (talk) 21:31, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Description of Turin[edit]

The description of Turin states the he, "...must argue for better jobs and wages from the camp officers in order to please the squad, who then must work hard in order to please the camp officers and get larger rations."

I would argue that "protect the squad" would be a better description of Turin's actions, rather than please, since there isn't a sense in the book that Turin is at all anxious about his position within the squad or with the other prisoners.