The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1 (Paperback)
By Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
This first volume of the gripping and epic masterpiece in Soviet literature contains Solzhenitsyn's account of Soviet life under Stalin. The first volume is the fascinating tale of his arrest and interrogation. The second volume of this masterpiece begins with his entrance into the prison camps.
In this book, Solzhenitsyn exposes a lesser-documented holocaust as he brings to life the history from 1918 to 1956. He recounts the imprisonment, brutalization and murder of tens of millions of innocent Soviet citizens by their own government. A "Gulag" is a prison or detention camp specifically for political prisoners. "Archipelago" refers to the vast network of forced labor camps – run by the secret police – that spanned the Soviet Union. The prisoner population there exploded from small numbers after the revolution of 1917 to 15 million by the 1940s. Brutality and murder there reached its peak during Stalin's rule from 1929 to 1953.
"The Gulag Archipelago" recreates this world of forced labor, torture and death. Solzhenitsyn draws on his own experiences and the testimonies of many other survivors. Solzhenitsyn weaves these stories and experiences together in a powerful narrative. Not only does he illustrate the horrible living conditions and brutality in the camps, but he also explores the philosophy, sociology and evolution of the gulag.
Solzhenitsyn is sardonic and blunt, yet also writes with the style of an epic novelist. The result is a unique and moving description of the inexplicable and corrupt system that has absolute control over him. His book is interspersed with Russian proverbs, satire, prison camp language and parodies of Soviet officials.
His purpose in writing "The Gulag" was to document the full truth of what happened, for the Soviet government had acknowledged only a part of the truth and “almost none of the responsibility.” Copies of Solzhenitsyn’s books began to circulate in 1974 and were instantly influential. Raw, emotional and detailed, the story continues to deeply affect its readers.
About the Author
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was born in Kislovodsk, Russia, in 1918. A twice-decorated captain in the Soviet Army, he was stripped of his rank, arrested and convicted in 1945 for privately criticizing Stalin. Exiled from the USSR in 1974, Solzhenitsyn eventually settled in the United States before returning to his homeland 20 years later. Among his other acclaimed works are the novels "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" and "The First Circle." His literary awards include the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Medal of Honor for Literature.
Paperback: 704 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (August 7, 2007)
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