“(Russian title; Arkhipelag Gulag) A three-volume history (1973-6; English translation 1974-78) by the Russian novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) of the Gulag, the Soviet administrative department responsible for maintaining prisons and forced labour camps. ‘Gulag’ is the abbreviation of Russian Glavnoye upravleniye ispravitel no-trudovykh lagerey, “Chief Administration for Corrective Labour Camps.’ Such camps–scattered across Siberia like an archipelago of islands–were a notorious feature of the Soviet Union from 1930 to 1955 and resulted in the deaths of millions. Having been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1970), Solzhenitsyn was in 1974 deported after the publication in Paris of the first two volumes and the suicide of his former assistant wh, after five days of interrogation by the KGB, had revealed where she had hidden a copy of the complete work.”
Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.