Hot Best Seller

The Death of Ivan Ilych (Illustrated) + Free Audiobook

Availability: Ready to download

[THIS KINDLE BOOK QUALITY IS GUARANTEED: It has been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.] The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. "Usually classed among the best examples of the novella", The Death of Ivan Ily [THIS KINDLE BOOK QUALITY IS GUARANTEED: It has been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.] The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. "Usually classed among the best examples of the novella", The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of the sufferings and death of a high-court judge from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia. BONUS : • The Death of Ivan Ilych Audiobook. • The 19 Best Leo Tolstoy Quotes. • Biography of Leo Tolstoy ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: Rutilus classics publishes great works of literature at an affordable price. Our books have been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.


Compare

[THIS KINDLE BOOK QUALITY IS GUARANTEED: It has been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.] The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. "Usually classed among the best examples of the novella", The Death of Ivan Ily [THIS KINDLE BOOK QUALITY IS GUARANTEED: It has been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.] The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. "Usually classed among the best examples of the novella", The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of the sufferings and death of a high-court judge from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia. BONUS : • The Death of Ivan Ilych Audiobook. • The 19 Best Leo Tolstoy Quotes. • Biography of Leo Tolstoy ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: Rutilus classics publishes great works of literature at an affordable price. Our books have been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.

30 review for The Death of Ivan Ilych (Illustrated) + Free Audiobook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenn(ifer)

    "“Death is over," he said to himself. "There is no more death.” When I picked this book up at a library book sale, I did so without expectation that I would actually enjoy reading it. See, I had mistakenly given up on the masters of Russian literature due to the struggles I had reading a particular novel (I’m looking at you Brothers Karamazov!), assuming they were all inaccessible and there was no point in expending anymore energy trying to make sense of books with characters that go by 3 differe "“Death is over," he said to himself. "There is no more death.” When I picked this book up at a library book sale, I did so without expectation that I would actually enjoy reading it. See, I had mistakenly given up on the masters of Russian literature due to the struggles I had reading a particular novel (I’m looking at you Brothers Karamazov!), assuming they were all inaccessible and there was no point in expending anymore energy trying to make sense of books with characters that go by 3 different names and waaaaaaah the end. THIS book! Not at all inaccessible. Masterful in its brevity. Concise and relevant and beautifully written. Pay close attention. Blink and you’ll miss it. I don’t have the words. Tolstoy sets up the story expertly. Ivan Ilyich is a decent man. He has all of the trappings of a “successful life”: respectable family, respectable job, respectable home. He is by all intents and purposes content with his position in life. But has he truly lived? Tolstoy describes Ivan Ilyich’s failing health in such a way that the reader can almost FEEL what it was like for him. The gnawing ache in his side, the pain… unrelenting, demoralizing… every simple facet of existence plagued by torturous, insufferable, incurable pain. It’s agonizing. He cannot escape it. And then there’s his wife! She becomes like the walking, breathing embodiment of this pain. He can’t stand the sight of her, the sound of her, the smell of her. We get the briefest of glimpses of what it must be like for a man on the brink of death. He feels he is a burden; he believes everyone is just waiting for him to die. He doesn’t want to have to rely on anyone to help alleviate his suffering. He struggles with existence, with god… “why me? why is this happening to me!” But then in the end, he finds what we all hope to find. He finds peace. He finds that this is not the end of life, but the end of death. Well, Leo, I think you've found yourself a new fan.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    The Death of Ivan Ilych, written in 1886, was the first major fictional work published by Tolstoy during his post-conversion. Tolstoy's religious philosophy which illustrates the values of brotherly love, Christian charity, and mutual support are the frameworks for the writing of this novel. Just as Tolstoy's discovery of the true meaning of life led him to fulfillment and an acceptance of death, Ivan Ilych's awakening comes through the realization of death which ignites within him fear, anger, The Death of Ivan Ilych, written in 1886, was the first major fictional work published by Tolstoy during his post-conversion. Tolstoy's religious philosophy which illustrates the values of brotherly love, Christian charity, and mutual support are the frameworks for the writing of this novel. Just as Tolstoy's discovery of the true meaning of life led him to fulfillment and an acceptance of death, Ivan Ilych's awakening comes through the realization of death which ignites within him fear, anger, contemplation and eventually acceptance. Death is the central theme of the story and through it one can discern the artificial from the authentic characters and the dichotomy between the inner and outer man. The character Ivan Illych belonged to an elite social circle.He was intrigued by the idea of being a member of the elite aristocratic society, and individuals who did not conform to the social circle were looked on with disgust.He was unaware however, that his life was an illusion brought upon a need to imitate a certain social class rather than to find true individuality. The true meaning of life was concealed behind the blindfolds of his naïve perceptions.His marriage to Praskovya Fedorovna is also an act of illusion. It is not done out of genuine love, but as is common practice by the bourgeoisie society, it is done out of the sense of obligation. The fact that she was a good looking woman from a well-to-do family were the essential characteristics he required her to have. Illych's rude awakening into the way he was living a life of conforming to social expectations came about when he came face to face with death. With the realization that he was dying, he began to contemplate his life and tried to find out if there was any meaning to it all along. Paradoxically, Death is responsible for allowing Illych to examine his life. He begins to contemplate about those people in his life whom he considered friends. He discovers that they too were false because upon his death bed there were no friends to comfort him. Tolstoy incorporates several patterns of reversal into the structure of the novel. The actual death of Ivan Ilych, the chronological end of the story, occurs in the first chapter. The remainder of the novel deals with the life, as opposed to the title of Ivan Ilych's death. The concepts of life and death are reversed by Tolstoy. Early on in his life, when Ivan seems to be increasing in power, free will, and societal status, he is actually being reduced to limitation, repression, and isolation brought on through the grappling force of death. After the seventh chapter, when Ivan is confined to his study and suffers physical deterioration and isolation, he in fact goes through the process of a spiritual rebirth.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Best Eggs

    Socrates said that an unexamined life was not worth living. In Kafka's The Metamorphosis poor Gregor Samsa is transformed into a being that cannot take part in the daily round of society and becomes more and more sidelined and ignored by those around him. This book, the Death of Ivan Ilych, has both of these notions contained within it's theme. Ivan Ilyich is dying. As he grows sicker and fits in less with his fairweather friends and family and their preoccupations with their social lives, they l Socrates said that an unexamined life was not worth living. In Kafka's The Metamorphosis poor Gregor Samsa is transformed into a being that cannot take part in the daily round of society and becomes more and more sidelined and ignored by those around him. This book, the Death of Ivan Ilych, has both of these notions contained within it's theme. Ivan Ilyich is dying. As he grows sicker and fits in less with his fairweather friends and family and their preoccupations with their social lives, they leave him be, they cannot stand his sickness, they cannot stand him. All Ivan Ilyich has is the simple, unschooled manservant with the good heart who doesn't want his master to die alone and afraid. He is almost the Angel of Mercy, all good, his role is just to be there to help his master pass from this life with a good companion. Ivan Ilych progresses through the endless scream of 'Why me?" to where he is almost at the end. And then he sees his rather petty life of moderate success and a little excess as it really was He stops hating his selfish wife and self-centred daughter and ceasing to be afraid of death hopes his demise will bring them peace. And by this examination of his life and the letting go of his more shabby and trivial emotions, he elevates himself. And dies. Finished end of Dec. 2014.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    Today I turned the last page of Banville’s Eclipse and was literally hit by the profundity of a book that surreptitiously echoes the mastery of the classic tragedies. My pupils dilated until they watered when I bumped into this paragraph: “As a boy I knew the stars, and loved to speak their names over to myself, in celestial litany, Venus, Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, the Bears, great and lesser. How I loved the coldness of those lights, their purity, their remoteness from us and all we do and all that Today I turned the last page of Banville’s Eclipse and was literally hit by the profundity of a book that surreptitiously echoes the mastery of the classic tragedies. My pupils dilated until they watered when I bumped into this paragraph: “As a boy I knew the stars, and loved to speak their names over to myself, in celestial litany, Venus, Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, the Bears, great and lesser. How I loved the coldness of those lights, their purity, their remoteness from us and all we do and all that befalls us. Where they are is where the dead live.” And you might be wondering what on earth Banville and Tolstoy have in common. My unscholarly response is that they are both masters of exploring the most recondite crevices of the human mind and the existential angst that is inherent in its nature; they describe the undescribable, recreate death and grief unflinchingly and make the reader be racked in pain by both. And so following the thread of my pensive mood I remembered the unfinished review of Tolstoy’s novella that I have been meaning to revise for months on end unsuccessfully, not finding the appropriate words, not feeling satisfied with what I had written, which I enclose below: ***** Do we really know what death entails? Is the life we lead worthy of being lived? Do we appreciate the gift of existence? Tolstoy stares back with blank countenance and pens a sobering story stripped of artifice in response to those unanswerable questions. “The Death of Ivan Ilych” confronts the reader with his own mortality. A civil servant in the high ranks of the Czarist Administration in the nineteenth-century Russia ponders about the arbitrary system of rules that have dictated his life when the threat of death puts an unwanted emphasis on how he should have lived. Dragged away by the currents of a set of conventions accepted without further enquiry and spurred by an eagerness to climb up the social ladder, Ivan’s soul has undergone the same process of bureaucratization than his professional career. A prominent citizen, he has married well, he has established contact with the influential members of his class and accumulated a vast list of superfluous achievements when death knocks on his door. Either in nemesis or in randomness, fated or chanced, nature is unveiled as capricious, unbridled and inscrutable, and man’s pursuit of transcendence clashes with the finitude of his banal existence. At first, Ivan faces his impending death with disbelief, then denial settles in only to be swamped with an overpowering disconsolation at his own disintegration while the world keeps on turning without him being part of it. His family and closest friends regard him with superficial sympathy and remain indifferent and detached from his suffering. As Ivan’s flesh withers with decay and stinks of sickness showing unmistakable signs of its transience, his mind is reignited and a reverse process takes place on his soul. Ivan looks death in the eye with more frustration than fear, dumbfounded that his life might be reduced to a trivial list of actions performed by an absurd sense of duty making of his time in this world even less than an anecdote. Tolstoy presents a magisterial reflection on mankind’s incapacity to plow a satisfactory path to a dignified death and throws back his own vulnerability at the reader in the form of an omniscient narrator that chronicles the mundane yet gruesome death of a man. The dilemma he contemplates goes beyond the realms of religion, philosophy or fiction, for the physical agony, the ruthless demise of body and mind is described in painful detail infusing the story with perturbing realism. Despite the heartfelt compassion that Ivan perceives in his son’s glance, as the young, untainted boy takes his lifeless hand, Death places her cold, blindfolded kiss and presses her finger upon the man’s lips, sealing them forever, and I, uninvited outsider, shaken and teary, get a sour taste of what dying feels like. ****** I had meant to polish the review; retrieve some sentences, rephrase others, perhaps add some quotes... It's highly probable that I would have never published it, but Banville’s masterpiece made me realize that there are some things that mere words can’t convey, the touch of a virtuous pen is needed, the sparkle of geniality is required. I am not the possessor of such talents, but Banville has both. And so did Tolstoy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    Last year the group catching up on classics chose The Death of Ivan Ilyich as one of their monthly short story selections. At the time, I did not have the time to read it; however, a play I recently read had reading Anna Karenina as a major plot line. Wanting an introduction to Tolstoy prior to reading this epic, I decided upon Ivan Ilyich as my gateway to his more celebrated work. Ivan Ilyich enjoyed an upper middle class life in pre revolutionary Russia. He graduated from a jurisprudence cours Last year the group catching up on classics chose The Death of Ivan Ilyich as one of their monthly short story selections. At the time, I did not have the time to read it; however, a play I recently read had reading Anna Karenina as a major plot line. Wanting an introduction to Tolstoy prior to reading this epic, I decided upon Ivan Ilyich as my gateway to his more celebrated work. Ivan Ilyich enjoyed an upper middle class life in pre revolutionary Russia. He graduated from a jurisprudence course and eventually became a lawyer in an out of the way province. He married Praskovya Fyodorovna and the two lived a married life that was neither happy nor sad for over twenty years. Each person became set in their own ways and the two lived as separate islands in their home, made possible by Ivan Ilyich's income. I was not completely captivated by the story of Ivan Ilyich. He lived a relatively normal existence and experienced many things that an average upper middle class citizen might have experienced in Russia at the time of publication, hence the rating. I found Tolstoy's writing style accessible, which should ease the way for me to read his longer works. The part I found the most interesting was how Tolstoy through Ivan Ilyich discussed his views on death and dying, which is the premise of this story. Ivan Ilyich grappled with the alternatives of dying and being mired in a marriage where he was not appreciated or loved. Even though I only gave this story three stars, I am glad I read it as an introduction to Tolstoy. The premise is an interesting one and I enjoy the time period, although, it is not a story that I am not drawn to. I would recommend this to those who might not read classics due to their long length and want to begin to read an author's works. I look forward to endeavoring through Tolstoy's epic novels after discovering that his writing style is easy to read for the masses.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fabian {Councillor}

    It is a widespread stereotype that Russian classics are mostly long, tedious, boring, a burden to get through, but one only needs to read a short book like The Death of Ivan Ilych in order to be proven wrong. A philosophical, in its beautiful writing almost lyrical account of a dying man's life, Tolstoy will make you think about your own mortality, about happiness, sorrow and most likely your own life as well. “They had supper and went away, and Ivan Ilych was left alone with the consciousness It is a widespread stereotype that Russian classics are mostly long, tedious, boring, a burden to get through, but one only needs to read a short book like The Death of Ivan Ilych in order to be proven wrong. A philosophical, in its beautiful writing almost lyrical account of a dying man's life, Tolstoy will make you think about your own mortality, about happiness, sorrow and most likely your own life as well. “They had supper and went away, and Ivan Ilych was left alone with the consciousness that his life was poisoned and was poisoning the lives of others, and that this poison did not weaken but penetrated more and more deeply into his whole being. With this consciousness, and with physical pain besides the terror, he must go to bed, often to lie awake the greater part of the night. Next morning he had to get up again, dress, go to the law courts, speak, and write; or if he did not go out, spend at home those twenty-four hours a day each of which was a torture. And he had to live thus all alone on the brink of an abyss, with no one who understood or pitied him.” During the course of the story, Tolstoy introduces us to the life of the unhappy Ivan Ilych, who might have expected too much from his life and had to discover the disappointing truth after his marriage failed to induce happiness and death tore its way through his soul way too early. Tolstoy uses his protagonist to help us realize how we all have to die one day, and there will surely be readers who, just like Ivan Ilych, always thought of death as something foreign they wouldn't have to worry about until a long time later. The author's prose is highly readable and might just as well have originated from someone who wrote the book five or ten years ago; besides, Tolstoy knows how to captivate his reader, thus The Death of Ivan Ilych can only be called a book which can't be recommended highly enough for readers interested in Russian literature or, on a more general note, classics. “There remained only those rare periods of amorousness, which still came to them at times but did not last long. These were islets at which they anchored for a while and then again set out upon that ocean of veiled hostility which showed itself in their aloofness from one another.” Tolstoy defines the marriage between Ivan Ilych and Praskovya Fedorovna as an engagement of mutual aversion, founded in their hopes to find concealment and secureness which were shattered only months after their wedding. The sadness behind the realizations of those two characters that their marriage has never been destined to bring happiness into their lives will cloud their sorrowful lives, until the slow, but torturous demise of Ivan Ilych turns into the ultimate factor driving them apart from each other. If you are intimidated by the length of classics like Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment and the like, then I can almost assure you that reading some shorter novellas like The Death of Ivan Ilych or Dostoyevksy's White Nights will help you with finding a way into Russian literature, coming to terms with the rather uncommon names and growing an interest in the huge Russian classics which will surpass the simple feeling of pressure to read them just because others said those are books everyone has to read. And they probably are. But it's always easier to anticipate rather than dread them, so novellas like these will be extremely helpful.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    829. Смерть Ивана Ильича = Smert Ivana Ilicha = The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, considered one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. Usually classed among the best examples of the novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of a high-court judge and his sufferings and death from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia. Characters: Ivan I 829. Смерть Ивана Ильича = ‎Smert Ivana Ilicha = The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, considered one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. Usually classed among the best examples of the novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of a high-court judge and his sufferings and death from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia. Characters: Ivan Ilyich (Ilyich is a patronymic, his surname is Golovin) is a highly regarded official of the Court of Justice, described by Tolstoy as, "neither as cold and formal as his elder brother nor as wild as the younger, but was a happy mean between them—an intelligent, polished, lively, and agreeable man." As the story progresses, he becomes more and more introspective and emotional as he ponders the reason for his agonizing illness and death. Praskovya Fëdorovna Golovin is Ivan's unsympathetic wife. She is characterized as self-absorbed and uninterested in her husband's struggles, unless they directly affect her. Gerasim is the Golovins' young butler. He takes on the role of sole comforter and caretaker during Ivan's illness. Peter Ivanovich is Ivan's longtime friend and colleague. He studied law with Ivan and is the first to recognize Ivan's impending death. Lisa Golovin is Ivan's daughter. Fëdor Petrishchev is Lisa's fiancé. عنوان: مرگ ایوان ایلیچ؛ نویسنده: لئو تولستوی؛ انتشاراتیها: (نیلوفر، دانا، رادوگا)؛ ادبیات روسیه - سده 19 میلادی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه نوامبر سال 2007 میلادی عنوان: چند داستان و حکایت؛ نویسنده: لئو تولستوی؛ مترجم: گامایون؛ مسکو، رادوگا، 1364، در 312 ص؛عنوان داستانها: دو افسر هوسار؛ هامون نورد؛ مرگ ایوان ایلیچ؛ پس از مجلس رقص؛ عنوان: مرگ ایوان ایلیچ؛ نویسنده: لئو تولستوی؛ مترجم: لاله بهنام؛ تهران، دانا، 1370، در 99 ص؛ شابک:9646242685؛ عنوان: مرگ ایوان ایلیچ؛ نویسنده: لئو تولستوی؛ مترجم: صالح حسینی؛ تهران، نیلوفر، 1385، در 152 ص؛ چاپ دوم: 1386؛ سوم 1390؛ شابک: 9789644483073؛ مترجمهای این اثر جنابان و بانوان محترم: گامایون، صالح حسینی؛ هوشنگ اسماعیلیان؛ رضی خدادادی (هیرمندی)؛ لاله بهنام؛ سالومه مهوشان؛ یوسف قنبر؛ حسن زمانی؛ تیمور قادری؛ سروش حبیبی؛ حمیدرضا آتش بر آب؛ محمد دادگر؛ علی اصغر بهرامی؛ کاظم انصاری؛ هستند ایوان ایلیچ، شخصیت اصلی داستان «تولستوی»، شخصی موفق در زندگی روزمره و کاری ست، ولی در زندگی شخصی دچار مشکلاتی است. البته این مشکلات به نوعی متأثر از موفقیت‌های کاری وی نیز هست. او بنا به دلایلی که در کتاب ذکر شده، دچار بیماری سخت‌ درمان می‌شود. «تولستوی» در این کتاب از توانایی خود، برای به تصویر کشیدن روحیات، و احساسات یک بیمار کم علاج، سود می‌برند. «تولستوی» روحیات چنین بیماری را از لحظه ی آگاه شدنش به بیماری خویش، تا لحظه ی خاموشی، یا همان مرگ را، به پنج مرحله تقسیم می‌کنند. این مراحل پنج‌گانه عبارتند از: یک: عدم پذیرش یا انکار، دوم: خشم، سوم: معامله، چهارم: افسردگی، و پنجم: پذیرش. ایشان این مراحل را به طور دقیق، مورد بررسی قرار می‌دهند، از جمله توضیحات مختصری که در این پنج مرحله ذکر شده، می‌توان به موارد زیر اشاره نمود: مرحله انکار: تنها به مراحل اولیه یا رویارویی با بیماری محدود نمی‌شود، این مرحله با حرف‌های پزشک معالج آغاز می‌شود. او از انکار، یا عدم پذیرش، به عنوان نوعی تسکین، یا درمان، استفاده می‌کند. مرحله خشم: در این مرحله بیمار، دیگران را مقصر بیماری خود می‌داند. در داستان، ایوان ایلیچ، ناراحتی خود را با آزار همسر، و دیگر اطرافیان، تسکین می‌دهد. او چنین می‌اندیشد که: گویی او بیمار شده‌ است، تا دیگران سالم بمانند. مرحله ی معامله: از بین مراحل پنج‌گانه، این مرحله کوتاه‌ترین مرحله‌ است. بیمار با خود صحبت‌هایی مانند: ای خدا اگر فقط یک سال به من مهلت بدهی، قول می‌دهم که مسیحی بشوم و... سعی در به تأخیر انداختن زمان مرگ خویش دارد. مرحله افسردگی: در این مرحله، بیمار به عزای فرصت‌های از دست رفته، می‌نشیند، در این مرحله بیمار نیاز به تاریکی تنهایی دارد، و در تاریکی و تنهایی، خیال همه چیز را در سر می‌پروراند. مرحله پذیرش: مرحله پذیرش، آخرین مرحله ی یک بیمار است، که تهی از احساسات می‌شود. در این مرحله گویی درد از میان رفته‌ است. در این مرحله، سکوت، پرمعناترین شکل ارتباط است. در این مرحله، فشار دادن دست دوست، نگاهی سنگین و... پرمعناترین معانی را از ژرفای یک بیمار درحال مرگ، به خوانشگر منتقل می‌کند. ا. شربیانی

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    "Ivan Ilych's life had been most ordinary and therefore most terrible..." This arresting line is a synopsis of what all of this boils down to. More than likely, in my pre-Emo high school years, had I read all 52 grueling pages of "The Death of Ivan Ilych", and truly understood its exquisite prolonged lingering around the very morbid notion of death, it would have been a brick in my fo(und/rm)ation. Sadly, nowadays I am way more bubbly and optimistic than ever, so I had a healthy distance between "Ivan Ilych's life had been most ordinary and therefore most terrible..." This arresting line is a synopsis of what all of this boils down to. More than likely, in my pre-Emo high school years, had I read all 52 grueling pages of "The Death of Ivan Ilych", and truly understood its exquisite prolonged lingering around the very morbid notion of death, it would have been a brick in my fo(und/rm)ation. Sadly, nowadays I am way more bubbly and optimistic than ever, so I had a healthy distance between my idle thoughts and this powerful piece. No matter: this made me meditate on that occurrence that is shared by us all, the ultimate, final destination called death (doesn't matter where you lived, breathed, loved). The novella is incredibly vivid, simple...just very understandable... relatable. Yes, it seems that an illness so long gives the titular man the right to sum up quickly his days of before, his heights, his passions... it is so realistic that I vouch for this to become an official horror selection in any given anthology!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Each time I reread Tolstoy’s little novella, The Death of Ivan Ilych, I read it differently. As a college student I read it as a description of an experience for someone elderly, an experience distant, almost unreal, so far in the future as to be strange, almost surreal. Reading it again during my years as a practicing physician, I was impressed by Tolstoy’s perceptiveness of the stages of grieving, the writings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross being then all the rage, and how my patients had similar ex Each time I reread Tolstoy’s little novella, The Death of Ivan Ilych, I read it differently. As a college student I read it as a description of an experience for someone elderly, an experience distant, almost unreal, so far in the future as to be strange, almost surreal. Reading it again during my years as a practicing physician, I was impressed by Tolstoy’s perceptiveness of the stages of grieving, the writings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross being then all the rage, and how my patients had similar experiences, also learning, I think, to be more honest and sensitive than the physicians in the story. Now, a retired physician in my seventh decade, I find that I view it differently, surprised that Ivan is only in his forties when he dies (I was astounded to note that he was so young!), not surprised by and even forgiving of the attitudes of his friends and family members, and most understanding of Ivan’s process of introspectively reviewing his life, evaluating it and responding in perhaps the only way he can to his approaching death and its meaning; I find it impossible not to personalize the story, wondering, even at a time when I am presumably in good health, about my own eventual death, what that experience will be like for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    In Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych, awareness of his impending death compels Ilych to think about whether his life had meaning. He reviews his career, family and the passions which guided his life, all the decisions which led him to where he found himself. Even as he knows death is closing in on him, Ilych rejects the possibility that he will die, and only slowly comes to accept his fate. I remember reading this many years ago and it had stuck with me. The story Ilych tells himself was ful In Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych, awareness of his impending death compels Ilych to think about whether his life had meaning. He reviews his career, family and the passions which guided his life, all the decisions which led him to where he found himself. Even as he knows death is closing in on him, Ilych rejects the possibility that he will die, and only slowly comes to accept his fate. I remember reading this many years ago and it had stuck with me. The story Ilych tells himself was fuller than I had remembered. The topic and the structure of the narrative makes this memorable; however, it is the meditative quality which Tolstoy brings to Ilych's last days which makes this story especially powerful.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    If you are bothered by your own mortality then consider yourself forewarned. It's not just the thought of dying much too young, just when you have gained a level of accomplishment, but also to die in agony, slowly. I've seen it much to close in my life, and to read such a vivid account was difficult. The power of writing, of good writing, can take you many places, even places you don't want to go.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    “Can it be that I have not lived as one ought?" The Death of Ivan Ilyich Leo Tolstoy The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one of the greatest tales of redemption and forgiveness I have ever read. What Tolstoy accomplished in the last 10 pages of this novella was amazing. Tolstoy is at his best writing about the social interactions of human beings. He has such an amazing feel for the things that go on between people; the hypocrisy, the pretending, the way people lie to each other on a daily basis. And he d “Can it be that I have not lived as one ought?" The Death of Ivan Ilyich Leo Tolstoy The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one of the greatest tales of redemption and forgiveness I have ever read. What Tolstoy accomplished in the last 10 pages of this novella was amazing. Tolstoy is at his best writing about the social interactions of human beings. He has such an amazing feel for the things that go on between people; the hypocrisy, the pretending, the way people lie to each other on a daily basis. And he does it so subtly. Here, nobody knows what to say in the face of death. Everyone talks around death ~~ around Ivan. This is another of Tolstoy’s amazingly insightful looks into the way people react to life and death, the way we lose control of our lives, and how we hide from our emotions rather than embracing them. I read The Death of Ivan Ilyich with my friend, Ali. When we were discussing our takes on Ivan, Ali remarked that “I think maybe it would have been more spiritual if he added God and Afterlife.” I understand Ali’s point, but I disagree. Tolstoy was writing of Ivan Ilyich’s journey to enlightenment, not his journey to God. Becoming enlightened is a spiritual journey, not a religious journey. Also, Tolstoy was writing of Ivan Ilyich’s death, not his journey thru the tunnel to the light. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a wonderful read. Tolstoy brilliantly demonstrates his understanding of humanity, and portrays that understanding brilliantly in his writing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Just as David Allen Coe sang the perfect Country and Western song, so might this be the perfect Russian short story / novella. Tolstoy has all the pertinent Russian elements: death, misery, estrangement, corrupt aristocracy, worthless professional class, strong and noble peasantry metaphorically and actually carrying the rich on their backs, guilt and a moment of clarity before the end.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rowena

    The more Tolstoy I read, the more I appreciate his literary genius and his philosophic thoughts. This was a relatively short book dealing with Ivan Ilyich's realization of his impending death. His life had been mediocre at best and he realizes he hadn't really been happy and had been trying to live an "ideal" life. What awful thoughts to realize when one is so close to death!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    I read this novella a couple of weeks ago and I did not write a review right away; I had to put my thoughts in order (they rarely are but, oh well). That only happens after reading an amazing book, brilliantly written, that deals with the human condition like Dostoyevsky's keen eye can deal. This book is about life itself, life in its most virtuous and degrading glory. This masterpiece has no more than 120 pages, but it manages to show many perspectives on different issues concerning the human n I read this novella a couple of weeks ago and I did not write a review right away; I had to put my thoughts in order (they rarely are but, oh well). That only happens after reading an amazing book, brilliantly written, that deals with the human condition like Dostoyevsky's keen eye can deal. This book is about life itself, life in its most virtuous and degrading glory. This masterpiece has no more than 120 pages, but it manages to show many perspectives on different issues concerning the human nature; it is insane. Life without meaning. A hollow, immoral life that, from a certain perspective, seems even worse than death. A first sign of that meaning appears, ironically, when life is about to end. So human. This book starts with Ivan's death. Every human reaction described by Tolstoy is too damn real. Every passage has a different idea, a different way of describing real human behavior. A person just died and his allegedly best friend is thinking about getting out of his room so he can play cards with another fella. And don't get me started on the widow... A life vanished and this shallow people can't stop thinking about themselves. Ivan Ilyich achieved an important social status after years of work, pushing his family aside. A man that thought he had lived well, was now suffering a painful death. However, is this death more painful than the way he actually lived? Did he live, at all? The eternal questions remain unanswered: what is exactly “to live”? What's the meaning of all that? Why are we here? Why can't you tickle yourself? What's a number? Can we really be objective? Will airplane food get any better? Will celebrities ever stop naming their kids after inanimate objects? OK, moving on. There are many things I would like to say about this book but I just can't. I don't want to spoil this anymore. And I know you can read a lot about it in any other place, but not in here. I never ask anyone to read anything. However, I urge you, and you, and the other one next to you... to read this book. Mar 05, 14 * Also on my blog.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Piyangie

    The story of The Death of Ivan Ilych profoundly touches on the concepts of life and death. Although I have come across books that talks deeply of life, I cannot say the same about death. And this book quite compensated for that omission. Tolstoy, through the fictitious character of Ivan Ilych, exposes the concept of death and human feelings when they are confronted with death. Ivan Ilych, a judge, leads an active professional life, and performs his social duty well. He is also a husband and a The story of The Death of Ivan Ilych profoundly touches on the concepts of life and death. Although I have come across books that talks deeply of life, I cannot say the same about death. And this book quite compensated for that omission. Tolstoy, through the fictitious character of Ivan Ilych, exposes the concept of death and human feelings when they are confronted with death. Ivan Ilych, a judge, leads an active professional life, and performs his social duty well. He is also a husband and a father and performs his family duties well too. Despite all this, when he finally faces death, Ivan Ilych is in doubt whether he really lived a meaningful life. “Can it be that I have not lived as one ought?" he thinks. "But how not so, when I've done everything as it should be done?” he argues. Tolstoy was a constant seeker of the true meaning of life beyond the "accepted bourgeois standard of living", beyond the social and domestic duties performed by men/women. Written after his religious conversion, Tolstoy's new thoughts on life are reflected through the story of Ivan Ilych. Living the life in bourgeois standard and the mere performance of social and domestic duties do not alone make the living meaningful. This is clearly shown through the fear and mental suffering of Ivan Ilych at his deathbed. There is life beyond that; a life of truth, call it spirituality, or path to enlightenment according to your own religious convictions. And the true meaning of life is veiled by an illusion, by what we call life - the materialistic living, the performance of social and domestic duties in that materialistic world. In this illusory way of living we abandon the duty to ourselves; we abandon our quest to realize the true meaning of life. But when we see the truth in life and live the life meaningfully according to that truth, we see the "light" beyond death and "death disappears". This is what Tolstoy was driving at. This is a meaningful book with a powerful message. And I heartily agree that this is a supreme masterpiece on the subject of death and dying. It is one of the most thought provoking books from one of the best masters of literature. Though written in the late 19th century, this is a timeless and a universal classic, timeless and universal as life and death. I enjoyed it very much.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    My very first Tolstoy. Oh, of course I know of this titan of literature and of course I know one of his most important works, Anna Karenina. However, I had actually considered reading his work(s) in their original language so I started learning Russian back when I had a bit more spare time ... only I got derailed and still am not on a level that would allow me to read such works in Russian. However, a friend persuaded me to at least read a short story of his, even if it is a translated version a My very first Tolstoy. Oh, of course I know of this titan of literature and of course I know one of his most important works, Anna Karenina. However, I had actually considered reading his work(s) in their original language so I started learning Russian back when I had a bit more spare time ... only I got derailed and still am not on a level that would allow me to read such works in Russian. However, a friend persuaded me to at least read a short story of his, even if it is a translated version and I agreed. Incidentally, this story was penned by Tolstoy years after Anna Karenina that had plunged him into either writer's block or even depression. Tolstoy himself was considering life and death which led him to pick up the pen again eventually and write this. The titular Ivan Ilych has died and we're looking back on his life. He was a judge, rising through the ranks, only caring about a good life, money, a match respected by society, having a good name and reputation etc. However, one day, he discovers that even he must die - and soon since he has fallen ill - and he's unable to cope with it. The story is a contemplation on what people do with their lives, what we consider "a good life" and worth spending our precious time with. Thus, we also encounter Ivan's vain and cold wife, the spoilt children (mostly the daughter) and superficial friends who, upon learning of Ivan's death, can't wait to find out what promotion they shall gain from it. Naturally, this topic also invites musings on God and the purpose of life, why people often have to suffer, why we have to die in the first place. I myself am an Atheist and therefore can hardly understand why some people need to continuously ask "why" as there simply is no answer. It's the natural cause of things. You are born, you age, you die. Yes, your loved ones (unless you are unlucky and have a family like Ivan) mourn you but it's not as if death was a form of punishment, it just IS. Therefore, I find it despicable how some "representatives" of certain religious groups positively wait for you to be in a weak state, like vultures waiting for a sick animal to give up, just so they can convert you when you're scared of dying. Tolstoy's musings on life, suffering, pain, death and things of value were quite interesting. Especially since Russian tales, traditionally, are darker and more melancholy than Western tales. Here, however, I found myself surprised by the conclusion. The Death of Ivan Ilych might be a short story, but it is impeccably written in lyrical but not bloated prose, with sharp observations of society interwoven with the examination of deep and important matters that shape humanity. Death is the common denominator after all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Phoenix2

    I've always liked Tolstoy's writing style, as he can describe something simply and clearly. Even the heavy topic of death, he managed to narrate it from the point of view of the actual dead, Ivan Ilych, who experianced it through it's multiple stages. It's wonderful, simple, sad and eye opening. Recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    You are transported to the world of Ivan and walk with him to his last moments at deaths door. A story of the terror of death and Ivan's fear of dying, his concern and sorrow for his families witnessing of his howling and decline. Suffering realizes joy of youth and memories of the best of days, while he is in this process of death the solitude brings him to doors of gone memories of happiness. How our daily trappings take us away from finer and truer happier moments of life, a time lost so valu You are transported to the world of Ivan and walk with him to his last moments at deaths door. A story of the terror of death and Ivan's fear of dying, his concern and sorrow for his families witnessing of his howling and decline. Suffering realizes joy of youth and memories of the best of days, while he is in this process of death the solitude brings him to doors of gone memories of happiness. How our daily trappings take us away from finer and truer happier moments of life, a time lost so valuable, we are a generational lost by media consumption, mobiles, internet and tv fine examples of vehicles of joyous hours but are also guilty of stealing our treasured hours that could be spent in much so joyous moments, i myself am guilty of these behaviours but i find the much joy in the solitude and private thought of words and reading. A short story but the magnitude of the message conveyed great to me I am now thinking of my past and age of innocence, ignorance is bliss words uttered by oh so many. This is the first reading of any of Tolstoy's works for me and I wait in anticipation to descent upon the treasure trove of his works of literature, Bon voyage alas I must hasten to read more and more. "From the very beginning of his illness, from the time when Ivan Ilyvich first went to the doctor, his life had divided into two opposite states of mind, which alternated each other: now there was despair and the expectation of the incomprehensible and terrible death, now there was hope and the interest-filled process of observing the functioning of his body. Now there hung before his eyes a kidney or an intestine that shirked it's duty for a time; now there was only incomprehensible, terrible death, from which there was no escape." "In the recent time of that solitude in which he found himself, lying face to the back f the sofa, that solitude in the midst of the populous town and his numerous acquaintances and family- a solitude than which there could be none more total anywhere; not at the bottom of the sea, not under the earth-in the recent time of that dreadful solitude, Ivan Ilyvich had lived only on imaginings of the past. One after another, pictures of the past appeared to him. They always began with the nearest time and went back to the most remote, to childhood, and there they stayed." "And again right there, along with this course of recollection, another course of recollection was going o his soul-of how his illness had grown and worsened. The further back he went, the more life there was. There was a goodness in life, and more of life itself. The two merged together."As my torment kept on getting worse and worse, so the whole of life got worse and worse," he thought. There was one bright spot back there, at the beginning of life, and then it became darker and darker, ever quicker and quicker. "In inverse proportion to the square of the distance from death," thought Ivan Ilyvich. And this image of a stone plunging down with increasing speed sank into his soul. Life, a series of ever-increasing sufferings, races faster and faster towards it's end, the most dreadful suffering." http://more2read.com/?review=the-death-of-ivan-ilych-by-leo-tolstoy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    When it comes to a simple theme, it can't get much better than this. Death? Meet Ivan Ilych. But what Tolstoy brings to the table is an outline of his life, his propriety, his career, and his failings as a husband and father (though he would never call it such) and the realization that he, perforce, must die. Enter pain, existential horror, and bafflement. Very Russian. Very universal. And extremely well-written. And for the man who wrote War and Peace? SO SHORT! :)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jibran

    For those scared of the size of Tolstoy's stellar works like 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina', this novella may be a good starting point as an introduction to the art of Tolstoy. Set in imperial Russia at a time when every aspiring person seemed to measure their success through their rank or office in the Russian civil service, it is an excellent critique of the elite's aspirations, the suffocating formality of their lifestyles, of their being beholden to positions and job titles. At the same For those scared of the size of Tolstoy's stellar works like 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina', this novella may be a good starting point as an introduction to the art of Tolstoy. Set in imperial Russia at a time when every aspiring person seemed to measure their success through their rank or office in the Russian civil service, it is an excellent critique of the elite's aspirations, the suffocating formality of their lifestyles, of their being beholden to positions and job titles. At the same time it's a meditation on the fickleness of life people spend too much time decorating, and making big of one's achievements. Only just when the middle-aged Ivan Ilyich feels he has made it in life and now can relax away his years in service at a higher position, he is visited by an illness that kills him in pain and misery. His unsuccessful fight against the illness forms most of the narrative of the novella, with frequent retrospective meditations on his identity, his position, his achievements, and how he ought to be happy for where he has reached in life, but is he happy? His colleagues receive the news of his death perfunctorily, feeling sorry for the poor devil, and immediately start upon a discussion about how Ivan Ilyich's death might affect the chain of promotions in the hierarchy of the civil service. How once Ivan Ilyich seemed indispensable to everything - his work, family, friends - but was easily castaway from memory of things soon after his death. This story has a moralistic side to it too, as a critique of the love for the mundane, since it was written after Tolstoy's famous reversion to Christianity.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike Puma

    A mini-review not intended for the easily offended (i.e., there’s a dirty part) But first, Constance Garnett. Is it possible that this woman was the best and worst thing to happen to all Russian public domain titles? She seems to have translated everything Russian that was in print at the time of her demise. Given that her translations are, likely, the stuff much academic criticism is based on, one has to wonder what could have been. There is a vague sort of missed opportunity that hovers over t A mini-review not intended for the easily offended (i.e., there’s a dirty part) But first, Constance Garnett. Is it possible that this woman was the best and worst thing to happen to all Russian public domain titles? She seems to have translated everything Russian that was in print at the time of her demise. Given that her translations are, likely, the stuff much academic criticism is based on, one has to wonder what could have been. There is a vague sort of missed opportunity that hovers over this text—something that suggests these stories have survived her translation. Just a thought.Now, the filthy part:But first, suppose just for a second that you could do a reading from this novella to the audience of your choice. Further suppose, given your (my) peculiar sense of humor, said audience of choice was … oh, say a bar in San Francisco … or, say a smaller audience, say, oh, I don’t know, say Rick Santorum. Now what would you glean from the text to read in the Bay City bar or to Mr. Morality? Need some prodding? (not a pun) Well, for my money, hands down, it would have to be from the scene where Ivan finds a kind of comfort in the humble, peasant servant, Gerasim: Ivan Ilych made Gerasim sit and hold his legs, and began to talk to him. And, strange to say, he fancied he felt better while Gerasim had hold of his legs. From that time forward Ivan Ilych would sometimes call Gerasim, and get him to hold his legs on his shoulders, and he liked talking with him. At this point, you’d have to tell the bar full of gigglers that No, Ivan was not a bottom, and that they’d missed the point entirely. And one would have to hope that Santorum did not santorum his pants. You’d have to clear up quickly (not clean up quickly, no more bad Santorum jokes), whatever it meant to the good senator. Instead, the quote would serve best as a jumping off point for a discussion on how Ivan was f***ed (insert F-verb of your choice) by life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steven Godin

    Profound and masterly. A short glimpse into Tolstoy's genius, on that age old problem we all face up to, death. Uncomplicated with a clear prose, the story is of Ivan Ilyich, a married judge with two children, who dies before his time (mid 40's) after much suffering, reflection, and self-recrimination, and after considerable indictment by Tolstoy. Ilyich is self-satisfied, shallow, dull, and cold hearted, in short, unlikable, and Tolstoy presents him with no stylistic flourishes. In stern, spare Profound and masterly. A short glimpse into Tolstoy's genius, on that age old problem we all face up to, death. Uncomplicated with a clear prose, the story is of Ivan Ilyich, a married judge with two children, who dies before his time (mid 40's) after much suffering, reflection, and self-recrimination, and after considerable indictment by Tolstoy. Ilyich is self-satisfied, shallow, dull, and cold hearted, in short, unlikable, and Tolstoy presents him with no stylistic flourishes. In stern, spare, ironic tones, he prompts us to look closely and in condemnation at this man, and then, gradually and with gathering force, he induces not just our sympathy but our identification with him. The irony is set in stone, Ilyich's colleagues, on hearing of his death, start to ponder over of the effect it would have on their own lives, in terms of transfers and promotions at work. As Ilyich falls from grace and death takes over, for the reader it's an awakening. It's a life that although not as it should have been, could still be rectified at death It becomes clear to Ilyich that "what had been oppressing him and would not leave him was all dropping away at once from all sides, "What joy!'", he exclaims. Piercing and moving this novella is a great way to read Tolstoy without picking up one of his brick side novels. In a nutshell, Brilliant!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alice Poon

    I had expected this novella to be all dark and depressing. But it turned out to be dark with a silver lining. Through telling a story about the life of a Russian judge, who falls ill at the height of his career and life accomplishment, Tolstoy leads the reader into the inner struggles of the protagonist as he is confronted with the threat of death. The writing is simple and calm but has an intimacy and immediacy about it that it rattles one's nerves and fibers. The questions raised about life an I had expected this novella to be all dark and depressing. But it turned out to be dark with a silver lining. Through telling a story about the life of a Russian judge, who falls ill at the height of his career and life accomplishment, Tolstoy leads the reader into the inner struggles of the protagonist as he is confronted with the threat of death. The writing is simple and calm but has an intimacy and immediacy about it that it rattles one's nerves and fibers. The questions raised about life and death will haunt the reader probably for as long as he/she lives, but there is still a glimmer of hope and salvation.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Viv JM

    The Death of Ivan Ilyich is quite a sombre and depressing read about the last few weeks of a man's life. He looks back and wonders if he has lived a good enough life. Tolstoy portrays dying as a very lonely business. One of the most touching passages for me was this one: ...the most tormenting thing for Ivan Ilyich was that no one pitied him as he wanted to be pitied: there were moments, after prolonged suffering, when Ivan Ilyich wanted most of all, however embarrassed he would have been to admi The Death of Ivan Ilyich is quite a sombre and depressing read about the last few weeks of a man's life. He looks back and wonders if he has lived a good enough life. Tolstoy portrays dying as a very lonely business. One of the most touching passages for me was this one: ...the most tormenting thing for Ivan Ilyich was that no one pitied him as he wanted to be pitied: there were moments, after prolonged suffering, when Ivan Ilyich wanted most of all, however embarrassed he would have been to admit it, to be pitied by someone like a sick child. He wanted to be caressed, kissed, wept over, as children are caressed and comforted. He knew that he was an important judge, that he had a greying beard, and that therefore it was impossible; but he wanted it all the same. I think Tolstoy acknowledges that, at the end of the day, we all just want to feel loved. I feel like this story is one that needs returning to and mulling over, possibly repeatedly!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stephen P

    Tolstoy faces us square, eye to eye, with death, with life; real life versus false life. We are put there as no other writer has done. Absenting dense complex prose he allows the story to carry its full weight and tell itself. Tolstoy wastes no time nor a word in bringing to bold life Ivan Ilych’s journey from the safety of a conventional life to facing what that life sought to hide from. By hiding from death it also hid from life. He glazes a mirror and polishes the clarity of its sheen. It ref Tolstoy faces us square, eye to eye, with death, with life; real life versus false life. We are put there as no other writer has done. Absenting dense complex prose he allows the story to carry its full weight and tell itself. Tolstoy wastes no time nor a word in bringing to bold life Ivan Ilych’s journey from the safety of a conventional life to facing what that life sought to hide from. By hiding from death it also hid from life. He glazes a mirror and polishes the clarity of its sheen. It reflects back what is death and the false life, leaving open the opportunity to see and live what is true. It opens the possibility of seeing death as a separate entity in and of itself as well as death being an awakening. Also, this was during the time of great Russian political upheaval. Peasants were aided financially in buying their own land. It was a time leading to the abolishment of the Poll Tax which peasants were the sole contributors and kept them anchored in their subservience. Ilych’s life, defined by monetary and job status, was fading along with all their inclusive behaviors, rituals, and boundless conventions, circumscribing acceptable behavior. Ivan, as his mysterious illness progressed would only accept physical help from his servant who provided Ivan genuine selfless caring and attuned conversation, his only relief. Is this also what the book is about? It may be. Personally I believe that symbolism in this work acts as an agent of dilution. It may have its place in a shadowed corner overlooked as Tolstoy unnerves his reader, sweat soaked, to grasp the ultimate questions, holding on for as long as possible. 5.5/5

  27. 5 out of 5

    Supreeth

    The deal with Ivan Ilyich is, he doesn't question his existence even though he knows he's dying. He's not even expecting his suffering to have some meaning. He's neither pessimistic nor optimistic, he just asks, Why? Just Why? Why me? He does know he's just another mortal animal, but the realization of truth is just weird. Like he's seriously about to die. How often does that happen to a person? Death of Ivan Ilyich talks plainly and explicitly about just one thing—death. This book might just be The deal with Ivan Ilyich is, he doesn't question his existence even though he knows he's dying. He's not even expecting his suffering to have some meaning. He's neither pessimistic nor optimistic, he just asks, Why? Just Why? Why me? He does know he's just another mortal animal, but the realization of truth is just weird. Like he's seriously about to die. How often does that happen to a person? Death of Ivan Ilyich talks plainly and explicitly about just one thing—death. This book might just be the ancient Russian version of Fight Club's bathroom scene, a conversation between Tyler Durden and the other 'guy'. Or, if Patrick Bateman had taken this book too serious he wouldn't be all frustrated about his colleague's perfect hair.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Komal

    "As soon as man lives, he is old enough to die." I have now understood the reasons and significance behind the categorization of Count Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy as among one of the finest literary figures, in Russia and elsewhere. Leo Tolstoy penned this book in the year 1886--shortly before he began to pursue religion and teachings of the life after this one. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a short novella and it faces boldly the materialistic issues and philosophical meanderings tied to the concept "As soon as man lives, he is old enough to die." I have now understood the reasons and significance behind the categorization of Count Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy as among one of the finest literary figures, in Russia and elsewhere. Leo Tolstoy penned this book in the year 1886--shortly before he began to pursue religion and teachings of the life after this one. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a short novella and it faces boldly the materialistic issues and philosophical meanderings tied to the concept of death. Tolstoy has incorporated himself into his famous character, Ivan Ilyich, and conjured up a powerful narration where within one enters the mental vaults of a man who is destined to die. And knows it. "...But acknowledgement is horrifying." When I finished The Death of Ivan Ilyich, I was sitting beside the window in my room, perched on the ledge, contemplating the old, tattered pages as sunlight lit them up, and thought of how extraordinary was the fact that Tolstoy built himself into a world where he made himself believe he was dying and derived all the thoughts and strategies of a dying man. Is that even possible? How is that possible? Can you, for instance, sitting comfortably in front of your PC or whatever screen, know all the emotions and flares which will strike you and spin themselves within your mind once you discover that your life span is near its end point? Can you even acknowledge the edge of the thoughts which will plague your disturbed head while pretending to be terminally ill? Can you even begin to accept this awareness? Perhaps you can; I can not. To write down this enigma in the way Leo Tolstoy has can only be achieved if Leo Tolstoy already had experienced the brink of death like his alternate self, Ivan Ilyich. But he had not, and that is what mystifies me most about this novel. Has, then, what he wrote can be assumed to be false? To voice the musings of a man in death's grip by a man who is fully alive in flesh and blood isn't far-fetched, it's near absurd. But somehow, Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy has managed to catch the gist of it, an idea of it, if not itself fully. Ivan Ilyich is a man who was blessed with good fortune since birth. The middle son, a hard worker and a well respected figure, he established himself as a fine young lawyer, brilliant and handsome. One couldn't imagine him lying weak on the sofa, moaning in pain. Ivan Ilyich continued to climb his ladder of success, for nothing meant more to him than his work, which was synonymous with his biggest pleasure in life. He courted a pretty, young Praskovya and they both spent a happy time together, at first. One couldn't imagine him bed-ridden, gasping for breath in the middle of the night while cursing his fates. While not absolved of every problem in the world, Ilyich's married life turned out to be not so much honey sweet as he had assumed it would be. Pretty faces are feisty, gentlemen, and unless you carefully pick out an apple that is not only shiny from the peel, but also juicy in the core, you will suffer. And so, Ivan Ilyich suffered his wife, but soon, he procured various methods to blot her out from his conscious life, most of which consisted of ignoring her completely. This worked for a while, and he began to settle back into a satisfaction he thought he'd lost. And yet, one couldn't imagine him screaming his lungs in the night, sweating and begging for the death God to take him away. It was then, some seventeen years after he married Praskovya, that Ilyich met with an ill-fated injury that concealed itself from him initially, and later manifested itself as the obsession over which he will see his downfall. And so, the rest of the story follows Ivan Ilyich's ever changing reflections on life and death--something he had never paused to think of before. How can he, Ivan Ilyich, the successful lawyer who decided fates of other men, have his own fate decided for himself by an invisible entity? How can he be given looks of pity from his friends when he imagined giving looks of pity to them, when they were dying? Ivan Ilyich's most regretful mistake in life was to assume himself to be invincible. "It's as though I had been going steadily downhill while I imagined I was going up. I was moving uphill, but to the same extent life was slipping away from me." As Ilyich's eyes started opening towards the hurt of empathy, so did they toward the people he once assumed family and friends. To call Praskovya Fyodorovna the most vile, vicious and loathsome wife a husband can have, is an understatement. The woman was nothing like that; she was worst--she was indifferent. The daughter, more or less, followed the footsteps of her mother. His son, though much young to understand the nature of the force dealing with his father, could at least grasp some of the pain he was in. Gerasim, the boy who was appointed to look after Ilyich, was just as sympathetic as he was naive. Ilyich's relationship with his son and servant are shown in contradiction to his wife and daughter. The evolution of his feelings towards both parties intensifies. "Praskovya Fyodorovna's attitude toward her husband's illness was that he himself was to blame for it, and that the whole thing was simply another way for making her life unpleasant. She began to wish he would die, yet she could not really wish that, for then there would be no income." False promises of help and eternal lies became the ultimate dilemma in Ivan Ilyich's life when he was sworn to a death-bed, both from his own blood members as well the medical bastards he was pinning as his saviours. "Ivan Ilyich was alone with the knowledge that his life had been poisoned and was poisoning the lives of others, and that far from diminishing, that poison was penetrating deeper and deeper into his entire being. And he had to go on living like this, on the brink of disaster, without a single person to understand and pity him." So, you see, the reader starts out wanting to flit away Ivan Ilyich like a bothersome bee, for he was so much like one. And then the most unexpected of all things unexpected happen to Ivan Ilyich, and he deranges into a man who begins to see the world from a different perspective: not from high above the clouds, but from below even the sands, realizing the bitter truths and accustoming himself to the true colours of the chameleons around him. The reader ends with trying desperately to grab Ivan Ilyich's hand and, somehow, save him from his impending doom. I already fear the same fate for myself. "It occurred to him that what had seemed utterly inconceivable before--that he had not lived the kind of life he should have." Conclusion: His intense mind machinery, his feelings, his contemplation on Death and the resistance against it, is what makes The Death of Ivan Ilyich such a heart-hammering and sorrowful read. Perhaps I took more from this novella than most might do for it was my misfortune to have witnessed a real Ivan Ilyich in life succumb to the deathly terminal illness we now call cancer. And it was more than creepy how the way my Ivan Ilyich behaved was not so different from the way Tolstoy's Ivan Ilyich treated himself; just that one breathed in the 19th century, and the other in the 21st.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    I do seem to recall reading this story now that I know I did and I remember enjoying the story. I like Tolstoy. I remember loving this class.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I listened to Tolstoy’s classic novella on audiotape. I wanted to say I was looking for a chipper, upbeat story for the beginning of the new year, just kidding, but you know, it’s not as much of a downer as one might expect for a title that makes it extremely clear what will happen to high court judge Ivan Ilych. The opening is sort of light and amusing as it has Ivan attend a funeral. The point here is that he has to be attentive to the culture of funerals, how to act. He says basically when pe I listened to Tolstoy’s classic novella on audiotape. I wanted to say I was looking for a chipper, upbeat story for the beginning of the new year, just kidding, but you know, it’s not as much of a downer as one might expect for a title that makes it extremely clear what will happen to high court judge Ivan Ilych. The opening is sort of light and amusing as it has Ivan attend a funeral. The point here is that he has to be attentive to the culture of funerals, how to act. He says basically when people go to funerals everywhere, the basic posture of most people is to realize that “He’s dead and I’m not.” This is your main thought, not primarily sadness. You have to make decisions about how to hold your hands as you enter the room with the casket, how to set your mouth, what things to say, but you basically don’t really think this thing is going to happen to you. Of course not! Especially if you are a powerful high court judge who is proud about how he has lived his life! Hailed as one of the world's supreme masterpieces on the subject of death and dying, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story about a moment when death appears to be inevitable for him, and the process he and his family go through as he is brought face to face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth? Tolstoy wrote the story soon after his religious conversion in the 1870s, but it’s not didactic. Ilych is initially a pretty commonplace, unreflective person, but you get to see how it might be for him to face everything realistically, and yep, he does indeed die, but it is not mean to be morbid or traumatizing or preachy. It just maybe nudges one to think a bit about what is a universal process. Illych asks “Why is this suffering happening to me? Maybe I have not lived my life as I should have.” Along the way he encounters a boy who cares for him in a way he can’t recall caring for others in his law practice, so he feels forced to rethink his life as anyone would. As he comes to see it, in the end, authentic life is marked by compassion and sympathy. It’s not a dramatic moment of realization, and it’s not sentimental, really, though, just how things are for him. In his book A Confession, Tolstoy writes: “No matter how often I may be told, ‘You cannot understand the meaning of life so do not think about it, but live,’ I can no longer do it: I have already done it too long. I cannot now help seeing day and night going round and bringing me to death. That is all I see, for that alone is true. All else is false.” I read this story once in a while as an example of the work of a great master. It’s simple, straightforward, with no tricks. I recall seeing one great adaptation, too, Ikuru (1952) by Kurosawa. It’s a good one.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.