Alexander Solzhenitsyn was an unknown author until the publication of "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" in 1962, the book that was to win him the Nobel Prize in 1970. It is an account of a barely literate Russian peasant's surviving a single day in one of Stalin's labour camps. It depicted the intricacies and resilience of the human spirit in a style comparable with Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. This study gauges the political and literary impact that the book has made in Russia and abroad, and examines its more universal, intrinsic qualities.
Robert Porter is currently a Reader in Russian Studies at the University of Bristol. His recent publications include Russia's Alternative Prose (Berg, 1994), a study of some aspects of post-communist fiction; a translation of a collection of stories by Evgeny Popov, Merry-Making in Old Russia (Harvill, 1996); and an edition of Vladimir Voinovich's By Means of Mutual Correspondence (BCP, 1996).