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The Death of Ivan Ilych Hailed As One Of The World S Supreme Masterpieces On The Subject Of Death And Dying, The Death Of Ivan Ilyich Is The Story Of A Worldly Careerist, A High Court Judge Who Has Never Given The Inevitability Of His Dying So Much As A Passing Thought But One Day, Death Announces Itself To Him, And To His Shocked Surprise, 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 This Short Novel Was An Artistic Culmination Of A Profound Spiritual Crisis In Tolstoy S Life, A Nine Year Period Following The Publication Of Anna Karenina During Which He Wrote Not A Word Of FictionA Thoroughly Absorbing And, At Times, Terrifying Glimpse Into The Abyss Of Death, It Is Also A Strong Testament To The Possibility Of Finding Spiritual Salvation

  • Paperback
  • 86 pages
  • The Death of Ivan Ilych
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • English
  • 11 September 2019
  • 1600964338

About the Author: Leo Tolstoy

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy Russian commonly Leo Tolstoy in Anglophone countries was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction Many consider To Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy Russian commonly Leo Tolstoy in Anglophone countries was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction Many consider Tolstoy to have been one of the world s greatest novelists Tolstoy is equally known for his complicated and paradoxical persona and for his extreme moralistic and ascetic views, which he adopted after a moral crisis and spiritual awakening in the 1870s, after which he also became noted as a moral thinker and social reformer.His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho pacifist His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth century figures as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr



10 thoughts on “The Death of Ivan Ilych

  1. says:

    Death is over, he said to himself There is nodeath 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 any energy trying to make sense of books with characters that go by 3 differeDeath is over, he said to himself There is nodeath 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 any 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. says:

    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 paragraphAs 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 paragraphAs 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 questionsThe Death of Ivan Ilychconfronts 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 withfrustration 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

  3. says:

    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 hiscelebrated 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 hiscelebrated 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

  4. says:

    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 na ve 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

  5. says:

    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 wellThey 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 wellThey 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 penetratedanddeeply 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 himDuring 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 ageneral note, classicsThere 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 anotherTolstoy 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

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  7. says:

    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 waybubbly 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 waybubbly 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, simplejust 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

  8. says:

    El significado de la vida est en que se detiene Franz KafkaPocos libros resultan ser tan contundentes como esta obra de arte que escribi Tolst i en 1886, puesto que no puede ser calificada de otra manera Escritores, fil sofos, artistas pl sticos y m sicos, entre otros, s lo tienen palabras de admiraci n ante esta peque a pero gran novela Yo siempre sostengo que una novela no necesita tener mil p ginas para transformarse en una joya literaria y este es un caso que lo demuestra con crecesEl significado de la vida est en que se detiene Franz KafkaPocos libros resultan ser tan contundentes como esta obra de arte que escribi Tolst i en 1886, puesto que no puede ser calificada de otra manera Escritores, fil sofos, artistas pl sticos y m sicos, entre otros, s lo tienen palabras de admiraci n ante esta peque a pero gran novela Yo siempre sostengo que una novela no necesita tener mil p ginas para transformarse en una joya literaria y este es un caso que lo demuestra con creces En poco m s de cien p ginas Tolst i nos deja un legado, una ense anza y un modo de mirar o de intentar comprender a la muerte, si es que existe alg n m todo para ello.Este inmenso autor ruso ven a elaborando la novela un a o antes, inspir ndose en el caso de un hombre real para terminarla y regal rsela a su esposa el d a en que ella cumpl a a os En cierto modo, algunos aspectos de lo que le sucede a Iv n Illich tambi n concuerda con la vida personal de Tolst i que tambi n tuvo cortocircuitos con su esposa durante su matrimonio otro momento lgido el la relaci n fue durante la publicaci n de otra de sus famosas novelas, me refiero a La sonata a Kreutzer y tambi n se relaciona con su propia muerte, dado que l tambi n confesaba que la muerte lo atemorizaba Tolst i fue encontrado muerto en el banco de espera de una estaci n de tren luego de una larga caminata La muerte de Iv n Illich no es una novela exclusivamente sobre la muerte, sino casualmente sobre la vida de este funcionario, escrita en retrospectiva y poblada de an cdotas y reflexiones tanto del mismo Iv n Illich como tambi n de sus familiares, amigos y compa eros de trabajo.En cierto modo, es tambi n una cr tica a la ambici n de sus colegas en el Juzgado , cuestiona las relaciones humanas su esposa y su hija y expone su punto de vista sobre la ciencia y la religi n sus doctores y el sacerdote Todo parece conspirar contra la d bil salud de este hombre, pero es tambi n su propia mente la que tambi n contribuye al derrumbe y en ese proceso de enfermedad el personaje comienza a comprender algo que a veces nos confunde el creer que la muerte est lejos, que uno es joven y que no hace falta preocuparse, si total, uno se encuentra bien de saludEs a partir de que se empeora cuando sabe cu n mortal es el ser humano Se llama Iv n, que en ruso es uno de los hombres m s comunes significa Juan y el mismo Tolst i lo aclara con sus propias palabrasUna descripci n de la simple muerte de un hombre simple, realizada por l mismoEse Iv n es un hombre simple y en el fondo ese Iv n somos todos los hombres simples que este planeta para un d a emigrar hacia otro estado Siendo redundante, la muerte es as de simple.Durante la lectura de las ltimas p ginas, no pude dejar de conmoverme por el relato de los ltimos d as de Iv n Illich.Confieso que yo tambi n le tuve siempre temor a la muerte y la forma en la que Tolst i relata los dolores y sufrimientos de los ltimos d as de Iv n Illich me remite directamente a los de mis padres, a quienes perd en poco m s de cinco meses entre ambas muertes.Le a, levantaba la cabeza y ve a a mi padre sufriendo terriblemente por no poder respirar y a mi madre en su agon a de tres d as Uno quiere ayudar, quiere lograr que ese enfermo se sienta mejor, pero en el fondo sabe que todo es in til y en vano Todos, como dice Tolst i se dan cuenta que el destino es inevitable y que Ella nos espera con su infinita paciencia y nos alcanza Nos lleva.En el caso de Iv n Illich todo el proceso, desde la declarAci n de los s ntomas hasta el inevitable final, adem s de la retrospectiva que tanto autor como personaje llevan adelante, es ocupado por la muerte como tema dominante Iv n Illich, ante la lozan a de su esposa y la jovialidad y juventud de su hija reflexionaS Para qu enga arme Acaso no es evidente para todos, excepto para m , que me estoy muriendo y que la cuesti n pasa s lo por la cantidad de semanas, de d as Puede ser ahora Hab a luz, y ahora tinieblas Yo estaba ac , y ahora estoy yendo hacia all Hacia d nde Dijo una vez Agatha ChristieLa muerte es el nico asesino perfectoFunciona como el preciso mecanismo de un reloj Inexorablemente avanza y nos abraza

  9. says:

    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 becomesandsidelined 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 less in with his fairweather friends and family and their preoccupation with their social life, they lea 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 becomesandsidelined 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 less in with his fairweather friends and family and their preoccupation with their social life, 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, he is just 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 hisshabby and trivial emotions, he elevates himself And dies.Finished end of Dec 2014

  10. says:

    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 behonest 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

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