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Helen MacInnes
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Laura Joh Rowland

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn; translated by Max Hayward and Ronald Hingley)

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

I love Russian literature.  There is something about it that captivates me.  I love the bleakness that is often in Russian literature, I love the despair, I love the soul that is in stories from that country.


My father tried for years to get me to read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and I wouldn't do it.  Probably because he wanted me to.  I finally picked up this book, and I have to say, I wasn't all that impressed.  There were images in this book that will stick with me.  There were some passages in which the prisoners were little more than wild animals fighting each other just to survive.  Then there were passages that were very profund in their simple portrayal of great dignity and humanity against the backdrop of life in this gulag.  I think, though, that something may have been lost in the translation that I read.  There was soul lacking in the words.  Not in the story, but in the words.  Russian literature is nothing if not soulful, and I just can't believe that there aren't better(?), more definitive translations out there. 


I do like this book, and I will re-read it.  I think it's probably a great book to read in order to compare and contrast how translations can impact a story.  Or more exactly, how translations can impact the way we feel as we read a story.