SOLZHENITSYN, ALEKSANDR ISAEVICH. 1918-2008.
Odin den Ivana Denisovicha [One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich]. Moscow: Sovetskii Pisatel, 1963.
16mo. 144 pp. Original wrappers. Minor wear.
Provenance: Natalia Ivanovna Dribinskaya (presentation inscription).
RARE PRESENTATION COPY OF THE NOBEL PRIZE WINNER'S FIRST BOOK, warmly inscribed: "To Natalia Ivanovna Dribinskaya in memory of your visit to Ryazan June 13, 64." This novel was the only one of A. Soltzhenitsyn's works ever allowed to be published in the Soviet Union. It was first serialized in the influential literary journal Novy mir in November 1962 and issued in book form the following year. Nikita Krushchev himself approved its publication after some censorship of the text. This short novel describes with unbridled frankness a single day in the life of one Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, a prisoner in a Soviet labor camp. The author drew on his own experiences when he was imprisoned in the Gulag from 1945 to 1953. Despite the thaw under Khrushchev, the hard-lined Russian public was not prepared for such an unrelenting denunciation of Stalinist oppression. It was immediately published abroad, most notably by E.P. Dutton in the first American edition of 1963. Jason Robards portrayed Ivan Denisovich in a TV movie that aired on NBC on November 8, 1963. Literaturnaya gazeta denounced the novel in 1968 as un-Soviet; and Solzhenitsyn was branded an enemy of the people. He was expelled from the Soviet Writers' Union the following year. When it was announced that Solzhenitsyn had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, he chose not to retrieve it for fear he might be barred from returning to the USSR. The Nobel Prize Committee mentioned specifically Odin den Ivana Denisovicha in its citation. In 1974, Solzhenitsyn was arrested and then expelled from his native land and did not return until 1994 after the fall of the Communist regime. Few inscribed copies of this modern classic have ever come on the market.