I was a little reluctant to listen to this book as I was aware of the subject matter, a detailing of life in the Soviet gulag post- World War II, which sounds rather depressing. The reality of the experience was quite the opposite - a detailed description of a day in the life of an inmate of a forced labour camp, Ivan Denisovich, was engaging, and completely absorbing. Listening how the men were able to survive the seemingly endless series of days without hope of release or improvement in their gray, difficult tormented lives was in a strange way, very uplifting. Their endless sense of resourcefulness was touching, and despite the vast unjustness of their situation, the book paints a wonderful picture of human resilience, and leaves one with the sense that no matter how bad things get, one can always find meaning in the minutae of daily existence.
A fine piece of art - delivers a serious (satirical) message about the state of the Russian Revolution circa 1925 as well as being an excellent, entertaining free-standing story. Would suggest reading a history of the novel prior to reading to help put it in context - without knowing the date of publication, subsequent manuscript seizure by the Soviet secret police, and prevention of publication until 1968, the novel may seem less meaningful.
As well as being a wonderful satire of the Russian Revolution, this story is also another take on the Prometheus mythology, and can be seen to be related to the Faustus story.
Performance is wonderful - just to hear his rendition of the dog howl is worth the price of admission.
Well worth the read.
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