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Helen MacInnes
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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich /written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ; translated by H.T. Willetts

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich: A Novel - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

This is the second time that I've read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in less than a month. I first read the translation done by Max Hayward and Ronald Hingley, and found something lacking in the story, perhaps due to the translation. After reading this translation by H.T. Willetts, I believe this to be the better, sharper, more engaging translation. Shukhov and all of the other prisoners felt more three dimensional in this translation. I loved the almost-but-not-quite first person telling of this story, something that was not done nearly as well in the Hayward/Huntley translation. Most of all,though, I expected this story to be a bleak one about suffering, abuse, and injustice. After reading this translation, I don't think that's the story that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote at all. Yes, there was abuse and injustice, and the prisoners were treated as subhuman at every turn. But in spite of that, Solzhenitsyn tells a tale that honors the human spirit, even when that human finds himself living in conditions not fit for a dog. Shukhov finds a way to survive in places and in a system that was designed to strip him of his dignity and his humanity. Not only does he survive, he thrives, at least on this one day, as much as, if not more than he could have hoped. He had a day that was, "almost happy." This isn't a story about being crushed; it's a story about overcoming.