The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

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Overview

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s most famous novella is an intense and moving examination of death and the possibilities of redemption, here in a powerful translation by the award-winning Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.

Ivan Ilyich is a middle-aged man who has spent his life focused on his career as a bureaucrat and emotionally detached from his wife and children. After an accident he finds himself on the brink of an untimely death, which he sees as a terrible injustice. Face to face with his mortality, Ivan begins to question everything he has believed about the meaning of life. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a masterpiece of psychological realism and philosophical profundity that has inspired generations of readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307951335
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/02/2012
Series: Vintage Classics Series
Pages: 64
Sales rank: 93,034
Product dimensions: 5.34(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.25(d)

About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) was born in central Russia. After serving in the Crimean War, he retired to his estate and devoted himself to writing, farming, and raising his large family. His novels and outspoken social polemics brought him world fame.
 
Richard Pevear has published translations of Alain, Yves Bonnefoy, Alberto Savinio, Pavel Florensky, and Henri Volohonsky, as well as two books of poetry. He has received fellowships or grants for translation from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the French Ministry of Culture. Larissa Volokhonsky was born in Leningrad. She has translated works by the prominent Orthodox theologians Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff into Russian.

Together, Pevear and Volokhonsky have translated Dead Souls and The Collected Tales by Nikolai Gogol, The Complete Short Novels of Chekhov, and The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, Notes from Underground, Demons, The Idiot, and The Adolescent by Fyodor Dostoevsky. They were twice awarded the PEN Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize (for their version of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and for Tolstoy's Anna Karenina), and their translation of Dostoevsky's Demons was one of three nominees for the same prize. They are married and live in France.

Date of Birth:

September 9, 1828

Date of Death:

November 20, 1910

Place of Birth:

Tula Province, Russia

Place of Death:

Astapovo, Russia

Education:

Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47

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The Death of Ivan Ilyich 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
CHLukacs More than 1 year ago
This book came to me a year before an event that changed my life. It gave insight & a ringing truth to a cultural history I have inherited. I didn't expect it, but the experience of Ivan Ilyich's very personal journey prepared me with a deeper understanding. I love this book!
Mitton More than 1 year ago
After spending his young life vacillating between responsibility and whores Tolstoy found religion. (Found true religion more accurately. He was Russian Orthodox his entire life until renouncing it for his own version of true faith in Jesus.) The Death of Ivan Ilyich – a novella easily read in an afternoon – was his first published effort after his change in faith. It tells the story of a man who, with no real effort or drive, rises to a mid-level court position, learns to despise his once beloved wife, largely ignores his once adorable children, and spends his time showing his colleagues and neighbors that he is a man of culture and value just like they are. While hanging curtains in his new and ostentatious home, Ilyich falls. Over the next days he feels an ache in his side and develops a metallic taste in his mouth. He agrees to see a doctor, then doctors, and then specialists who fail to ever accurately diagnose his ailment. He knows but will not admit that he is in a downward spiral toward pain and death. Increasingly beset with anger and a feeling that death was never meant for him - not now! - he despises those around him. Doctors, friends, and family are all liars who feign concern but plot their escape to the card table. People avoid him, he thinks, because he reminds them of death, of wasting, of their own demise. His only comfort is his peasant servant, a theme seen through much of Tolstoy’s writing. The last three days of his life are excruciating. Not from pain only but from the nagging emotional ache that he has lived his life wrongly. He sees that he has lived a false life showcasing artifice and selfishness just as those he despises. An hour before dying he feels release realizing that a good life is an authentic life. The peasant life. A life of concern and compassion. His heart turns and he feels love and pity for his family and friends. He sees his death as their release from the burden of his care. But this revelation is largely implied and separates Ilych from pamphleteering. Maybe this is part of Tolstoy’s genius? To let each reader discern their own meaning? Can we live authentically as wealthy people? What good is it to ‘inherit the earth’ if you are poor, weak, and ill? Thirteen years later Tolstoy will publish Resurrection where the themes of Ilych are expanded. The Death of Ivan Ilyich rests comfortably on the same bookshelf with other great philosophical fiction (and isn’t all Russian lit philosophical?). Tolstoy presents the problem, hints at solutions, but raises as many questions as he answers. Modern readers can struggle with the prose and Tolstoy takes time to develop the story. But it is a wonderful and thought provoking read. Can be profitably read and re-read. Four stars.
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Here?
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lauraatsea22 More than 1 year ago
Takes some doing, but it's worth the ride. I can see how it may be considered boring for a modern-day reader, but I found it interesting despite the sometimes long passages. It is a good portrait of life back then and there and the characters are truthful.
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He stepped in and made his way to Alexis. "Hello, I couldn't help but notice your dicomfort. Tell me how to help."
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This isn't his best work.It id very boring.