One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch Literary Techniques

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One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch Literary Techniques

Alexander Solzhenitsyn's style of writing is economical and unornamental.

This is particularly true of One Day. This would seemingly cause little

difficulty in translating One Day were it not for the great amount of prison

jargon contained in the dialogues and discussion of life in the camp.

The author's motto might well be, "wie es eigentlich gewesen," or "tell

it like it is." In believing as he does in honest realism and not the

propaganda slogan of "socialist realism," Solzhenitsyn wishes to render the

real-life situations he describes in so many of his writings-but especially in

One Day-in real-life language. The author did not have to use any glossaries

of prison argot, although the translator must; Solzhenitsyn simply drew on his

own 8-years' experience in corrective labor camps.

Artistic Use Of Blunt Language

Many "unprintable" Russian words turn up in One Day, as it was first

published in Novy Mir. Words like khub kren, yebat', govno and der'mo, khui,

pizda, etc., would make Beelzebub himself blush, but since they are part of a

zek's vocabulary, they appear in the novella. In the half-dozen extant

English translations of the work, these words are rendered with the frankness

of a Henry Miller novel. In Solzhenitsyn's case, the reader gets the

impression that far from wishing to be shocking or sensational, the author has

used these obscenities to show how debased humans can become. In any case,

most of the smutty language comes out of the mouths of the camp authorities.

This undoubtedly is the author's way of illustrating the source of the

debasement, debasement not only...

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...xample, it

is sometimes difficult to know whether he is speaking to us, the readers, or

to another character in the dialogue. At this juncture, the author, via the

narrator, may step in to wrap up a scene with a comment or observation.

In brief, the author has employed a number of techniques to achieve

his overall strategy in One Day. Above all, he wants to tell us the

truth in the manner in which we are generally acquainted with raw truth:

as a blunt, lopsided thing which we have no other choice but to accept.

Avoiding as he does ornamentation or lengthy sentences and description (in

the Dickensian or Dostoyevskian manner), Solzhenitsyn accomplishes a stoic

austerity which somehow suits the equally stark scenes, lean figures, and

cleanshaven heads of the zeks etched against the bleak white background

of the Siberian camp.
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