Sunday, October 19, 2014

What is the cultural and educational background of the author and how did this background influence the book?  In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of the author’s world view?

Alexander S., the author of this book lived in the soviet union for part of his life. Ever since he was young he wanted to become a writer, but because he needed to stay at home and take care of his mother he was only able to get a mathematical education. At a later point in his life, he did manage to get some literary education. In 1945, he was arrested for making some disrespectful remarks about stalin in some letters to a friend and ended up being sentenced to 8 years in work camps. After this, he was exiled for life to Kazakhstan where he taught math and physics to primary school students.
Because he said that his knowledge of mathematics is what helped him survive the camps and his exile, I think that this influenced the way that the camps are portrayed in the book. For example, I feel like Ivan would have a slightly more grim outlook on the camps if Alexander had not learned what he did and had a more pleasant experience in the camps than some others. So far, I think that the events in the book show evidence of the authors world view by portraying an experience that is truly terrible. I think that because he likely does not have the best world view showing something terrible is his way of expressing that his world view is kind of dismal. In addition, I think he is getting people to feel compassion for people in these situations so they want to help get rid of awful situations like this because people needing to help one and other is probably a world view he adopted.

Rostov University, where Alexander studied mathematics



  1. In your post you describe that he used to be a math and physics teacher to primary school however, I don't think it shows in the book. How this background influenced the book. Yes he described how math and physics helped him exile, but where is the evidence in the book?
    I know we are only in beginning and all we saw was the author's point of view of the camp/jail and how terrible it is. However this is my point of view. I can clearly see from where you are coming from though. Because of his graduation from the department of physics and mathematics at Rostov University he wrote an essay on "The Samsonov Disaster" and from there got arrested and went to the camp. The book came from his experience at the camp. So, after all if he didn't go to that school he wouldn't have written that essay and gotten arrested. Like most people say: Everything happened for a reason.

  2. I agree with you on the fact that the authors easier experience in prison affect the portrayal of the of the prison, but if he had a bad experience with soviets and their way of sentencing him to prison why has the book not shown any hatred of the soviets from the main character. I believe this happens because the author realises that his experience could have been much worse than it was. Intern making him much more lenient with is hate for the soviets in this book. This would explain why there is a low amount of hate toward the soviets in the book. I also think that since the author’s story lines up with the story of the book so far that Ivan will also be exiled like he was. What do you think?