Day in the Life of Ivan



One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn describes his time in a labor camp through the eyes of a character named Ivan Denisovich. In the book, Solzheitsyn describes a typical of a prisoner in a soviet labor camp, specifically for political prisoners. He describes the harsh environment that prisoners have to live with for many years.

This book was a instant sensation across the Soviet Union and quickly gained fame around the world, and the reason, the way the book described the character as shown in the introduction of the book by Marvin Kalb, ” Like millions of other Russians, [Ivan] uncomplainingly in the Red Army for four years… in 1945, he and a friend were captured.. after a few days they managed to escape… ironically, instead of being decorated for heroism and loyalty, Ivan was arrested by Stalin’s supersensitive secret police, who accused him of high treason and charged that he had returned only to spy for the Germans” Kalb the goes on to say, “Confused and helpless, afraid that he would be shot if he tried to explain, Ivan “confessed.” He was sentenced to ten years in a Siberian Concentration” (Solzhenitsyn, 1963). These two quotes talk about why the book was a sensation. This is because it reminded of a dark chapter in their past and that everyone had a family member that was put in one these prisons or a prison and affected everyone across the Soviet Union.

Solzhenitsyn, A. (1963). One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich: Notes. London, U.K.:                E.P. Dutton.

Von Geldern, J. (2015, October 07). Prisoners Return. Retrieved November 11,                     2018, from



Story of a Real Man

iilyshun-II Stomoviks

Ilyshun-II Stormovik

Post World War II, veterans came home to a bleak reality. The economy was in ruins which meant there was no work available. Veterans numbered almost 11 million by the end of the war, with the Army discharging 8.5 million veterans, many regions of the Soviet Union saw unemployment rise to almost 50%.

The Story of a Real Man by Boris Polevoi is a story about a russian pilot in World War II that gets shot down and injured and has to limp back to base. It uses imagery to show the reality of veterans after World War II. In it the pilot finds himself walking through the aftermath of a battle in the Black Forest. I find this a metaphor showing veterans’ reality in the Soviet Union after the war, they are unemployed, some injured with no help from the government. According to 17 Moments “the Soviet Army demobilized 8.5 million veterans over the next three years, starting with the oldest, … An economy in ruins had little work for them, and in many regions unemployment reached fifty percent, … veterans had nowhere to live, and moved into zemlianki, huts dug into the earth, which they might have remembered from the front”  (Von Geldern).  This story resonated with me because it, combined with the piece from 17 moments, shows strong imagery of veterans’ reality post war.


Von Geldern, J. (2015, October 07). Veteran’s Return. Retrieved November 4, 2018,                            from

Wait for Me

The poem Wait for Me was a poem written during World Ward II, 1941, by Konstantin Simonov. Simonov was poet, playwright, and novelist. He served a a corrspondent for the military paper Red Star. Geldern and Stites describe the poem, ” His love poem was heard on the radio throughout the war, recited by millions as though it were a prayer, repeated by women as tears streamed down their faces, and adopted by men as their own expression of the mystical power of a woman’s love” (Geldern and Stites, 1995).

Wait for Me is a love poem of a soldier asking his loved one to wait for him until he returns and that will ensure he returns. This poem was really touching and show the reality of what a soldier wants more anything, more than victory, to be able to return home. The reason the soldier fights, according to the poem, is to return safely. This is one of the reasons that the Soviets got victory over the Nazis, love is a strong motivator.

Von Geldern, J., & Stites, R. (1995). Mass Culture in Soviet Russia. Bloomington, IN:                            Indiana University Press.

Literature: Lenin to Stalin


Lenin and Stalin source

Lenin’s style of leadership was much different when compared to Stalin’s. Lenin led by charisma, not fear. This can be seen in literature. Stalin created the Writer’s Congress to censor literature and allow only works that showed him, the Party, and Communism in a good light, in other words, propaganda.

In Writer’s Congress from Seventeen Moments this can be seen, “by the time of the congress, control of printing, distribution, publishing, radio, film and theater had been firmly centralized, with the Party Central Committee having absolute power of veto” (von Geldern). The congress had absolute control on all literature and the means of publishing that literature,

Lenin on the other hand led through charisma, as can be seen in Konstantin Fedin’s work, The Living Lenin, as can be seen when Lenin enters the auditorium for the meeting of the Second Congress of the Communist International, “Lenin entered the hall of Uritsky Palace at the head of a multiethnic group of congress delegates. A wave of thunderous applause rolled forward to meet him , drowning everything with it din” (Fedin, 1939). This work shows the leadership of Lenin and, as the Mass Culture book states, ” It might also have suggested – to critical readers – an alternative to Stalin’s style of leadership”(Geldern and Stites, 1995).

Although I do agree that given the circumstances, Lenin may have been forced to lead as Stalin did, through fear and censorship, we did not get to see how he would have led the Soviet Union and how events might have been different.


Fedin, K. (1995). The Living Lenin. In Mass Culture in Soviet Russia (pp. 291-294).                             Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Von Geldern, J. (2015, October 07). Writers’ Congress. Retrieved October 14, 2018,                            from

Von Geldern, J., & Stites, R. (1995). Mass Culture in Soviet Russia. Bloomington, IN:                            Indiana University Press.









Trotsky on Revolutionary Culture

soviet union1


Revolutionary culture was a tool used by the Bolshevik Party during the early years of Soviet Russia to win over Russian citizens to the ideal of the Bolsheviks, mostly the working class. Trotsky’s ideas his work, “Vodka, The Church, and the Cinema.” on how to do this are two fold. ” The one is the advent of the eight-hour working day; the other, the prohibition of the sale of vodka.”

He explains that the eight-hour work day will allow the worker to work for eight, sleep for eight, and play for eight. This would be ” …making amusement a weapon of collective education…” and thus allow the working class to be more educated and accomplish more. Trotsky then explains that during the war, World War 1, the Czarist government banned the sale of vodka, seeing the revenue as making no big difference. The revolution then adopted this as fact, but Trotsky states that this “does not alter the fundamental fact that the abolition of the system by which the country encouraged people to drink is one of the iron assets of the revolution.” This would mean that the Bolsheviks could use this as a tool along with revolutionary culture to better bring in more support for the Bolshevik movement.

Another tool that Trotsky mentions that he thinks would be much more useful is cinema. He states that “in the daily life of capitalist towns, the cinema has become just such an integral part of life as the bath, the beer-hall, the church, and other indispensable institutions, commendable and otherwise.” As stated he believe that the cinema is the most powerful of them all, as it is everywhere in capitalist cultures and he doesn’t see why it shouldn’t be in soviet culture as well.


Vodka, The Church, and the Cinema

Religious Procession in Kursk Governorate

Religious Procession in Kursk Governate

“Religious Procession in Kursk Governate” is a Russian realist painting by Ilya Repin, was part of the Wanderers. The Wanderers were a group of painters who dropped out of the Art Academy so they would not have to follow the rules of the Academy. “Religious Procession in Kursk Governate” was completed between 1880 to 1883.

The work shows a annual religious procession carrying the famous icon Our Lady of Kursk from its home in the Korrennaya monastery to  the City of Kursk. The painting depicts a procession of mostly peasants, but also beggars and cripples, police, military officers, and member of the provincial elite. The work continues Repin’s commentary on the Church and State. Examples of this include, a bored priest behind the idol straightening his hair, various police officers using their riding crops to beat back the crowd from getting to close to the idol, and peasants  holding empty icon cases just as with much as much reverence as the actual icon is being held with.

Possible themes of the piece could be abuse of power by both the Church and the State and discrimination by the upper classes onto the lower classes. I am drawn to this because it lays bare the inter-workings of the Orthodoxy Religion. Here we have this religious procession and some of the priests are taking it less seriously than the peasants and other members of the lower classes.

Source : Religious Procession in Kursk Governorate. (2018, August 22). Retrieved from