HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Bantam Classics)…
Loading...

The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Bantam Classics) (original 1886; edition 1981)

by Leo Tolstoy, Ronald Blythe (Introduction), Lynn Solotaroff (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,504572,423 (3.95)15
Member:unlucky
Title:The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Bantam Classics)
Authors:Leo Tolstoy
Other authors:Ronald Blythe (Introduction), Lynn Solotaroff (Translator)
Info:Bantam Dell (1981), Mass Market Paperback, 128 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Russian, Russian Literature

Work details

The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy (Author) (1886)

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
My left side started hurting. A lot. ( )
  mvbdlr | Aug 2, 2014 |
This is my first venture into the land of Tolstoy. As with Camus, I was intimidated by the name 'Tolstoy' and, as with Camus, this should never have been so. The Death of Ivan Ilych is a rather poignant, striking novella written following a time where it is said Tolstoy went through a religious conversion. The book provokes thoughts around mortality and provides us with a harsh lesson in 'live life well'.

Despite the book title, the story focusses upon the life which Ivan Ilych felt he had lived and the process of dying he goes through rather than the death itself. It is striking, emotive and, at times, frighteningly remorseful. It's that 3am in the morning kind of stuff. If you're the kind of person who lies in bed agonising over your mortality, that funny twitch in your arm, pain in your chest or asking yourself "Why is John's car far superior to mine?" "Is the cat ill running around like that or just being a cat?" then the themes running through this wonderful novella will certainly chime.

Ivan Ilych is a well-respected judge who receives an unspecified diagnosis but deduces that he is terminally ill. As his condition deteriorates, we witness Ivan Ilych struggling to come to terms with his condition and the fact that he is dying. He begins to look back on his life with some sadness and regret.

"Lately in that loneliness in which he found himself....in these late days of horrific loneliness Ivan Ilych lived only by his memories of the past. One after another he imagined scenes from his life. He would always begin with the most recent and proceed to the earliest, to his childhood, and settle there." p.92

Such memories proved painful to bear. On looking back through his life, Ivan Ilych realises that as he grew older, more removed from the innocence of childhood, as the worries of life, his career and family took hold, the more superficial and shallow his life had become.

"...the further back he looked, the more life there had been in him; both the more sweetness to life, and the more of life itself....There had been one point of light far back at the start of everything, and ever since everything had gotten blacker and blacker, and moved quicker and quicker." p.93

Ivan Ilych starts to look on his friends, colleagues and wife with the same feelings of bitterness, regret and hate which he has for life and himself. The only moments of tenderness and understanding he finds are in Gerasim, the butler's assistant, who is able to emphasise and understand his needs as Ivan Ilych views others around him as looking inwards to their own needs.

"His marriage...so accidental, and such a disappointment, with his wife's bad breath, and her sensuality, and their hypocrisy. His moribound professional life, the obession with money...The further on in years the more deadening it became. In perfectly measured steps I went downhill imagining I was on my way up.... In public opinion I was on my way up, and the whole time my life was slipping away from under me....and now it's all over, and it's time to die."p.88

The inevitability of death pervades the book and feeds into this readers mortality. As Ivan Ilych struggles to come to terms with his life, dying and death so the reader is also carried along and forced to ask questions of his/her own mortality and life. The fact that Ivan Ilych is terminally ill is, for want of a better word, irrelevant. Death is inevitable - we are all dying, we will all face death and this is the only thing we can be sure about in life. The important lesson we should learn is how to spend our time wisely as we move towards this inevitability.

I'm so glad that this is my first experience of reading Tolstoy. It's a quick, compelling read with so much feeling and emotion packed into the 104 pages of this edition. It is without doubt a fantastic masterclass in writing where we are witness to emotions being laid bare for all to see. ( )
  lilywren | May 23, 2014 |
3.5/5

I didn't like this book at first, but once I got past the first twenty pages or so it got a lot better. In the end I liked it, but marked it down simply because for such a short book, it did take me a while to get into it.

For my detailed review on what I liked and didn't, please check out my blog at http://www.thebooktower.webs.com ( )
  bookish92 | Mar 20, 2014 |
The story begins with three friends and colleagues of a man named Ivan Ilych learning of his death. No one seems deeply affected by this, but one of them, Peter Ivanovich, goes to the wake at Ivan's house that night out of a sense of obligation. From there Tolstoy allows us to view Ilych’s life and his subsequent death, a wasted and meaningless life. In addition we become witness to the hypocrisy and the pointlessness of the lives of those around him—except for his young butler—who has an understanding of life and death that Ilych does not. What is particular tragic about this novella is the loneliness and isolation and the feeling that the life that Ilych has lived was meaningless—worse than death. This book allows us to explore how we live our lives, what is important in that life—and what is a “good life.” 3 out of 5 stars. ( )
1 vote marsap | Jan 3, 2014 |
A great illustration of a man coming to terms with his death. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
The work has a twofold value - first as a commentary of a Russian upon the most noteworthy event of Russia's contemporary, and, secondly, as a soldier's account from personal observation of the most stirring scenes of a mighty war.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times (pay site)
 
The light ridicule with which it commences and the black horror in which it terminates... are alike suggestive of the Thackeray of Russia.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times (pay site)
 

» Add other authors (65 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolstoy, LeoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aplin, HughTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bremer, GeertAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edmonds, RosemaryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eekman, T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
In the great building of the Law Courts, during an interval in the hearing of the Melvinsky affair, the members of the Court and the public prosecutor gathered together in Ivan Yegorovich Shebek's private room, and the conversation turned on the celebrated Krasovsky case.
(the Rosemary Edwards translation)
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please note that this work is only for "The Death of Ivan Ilych" ONLY.

NOT for any work with any other stories or with commentaries.

Please note that "The Cossacks" and 'Hadji Murat" are NOT the same work and please do NOT recombine them. Thank you.

Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
This is a classic book discussing the difference between life and death and a substantial way of living versus a frivolous way of living. In the frivolous way of living, life is materialistic and self-centered. In the substantial way of living, life includes real emotion such as remorse and sympathy.
The climax of the story is when Ivan Ilyich asks God or empty space why he has been suffering. He actually stops and listens for an answer and gets one. It is simply, "becuase". And that is enough of an answer for Ivan Ilyich. Tolstoy is answering the question that most people ask about suffering with the simple answer of "because". He does not make excuses, does not try to reason it out. He simply states that there is suffering because. I think this is very profound.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553210351, Mass Market Paperback)

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 death 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 the 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 fiction. A 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:18 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Ivan Ilyich is wasting away. He lies alone, dosed up on opium and deceived by doctors, haunted by memories and regrets. His friends come to see him, their faces masks of concern. His faithful servant tends to his every need. But as he forces down false remedies and listens to empty promises, Ivan grows aware of one terrible truth. His wife and his children are not awaiting his recovery. They are waiting for him to die.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.95)
0.5
1 2
1.5 2
2 30
2.5 7
3 121
3.5 36
4 243
4.5 32
5 172

Audible.com

Six editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141023600, 0140449612

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,977,846 books! | Top bar: Always visible