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Strange Life of Ivan Osokin by P. D.…

Strange Life of Ivan Osokin (1915)

by P. D. Ouspensky

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"If I know and remember, I shall do everything differently"
By sally tarbox on 30 November 2017

Probably *3.5 stars for this unusual and well-written tale which opens in 1902 Moscow. Ivan Osokin is seeing the girl he loves off at the station; he can't accede to her requests that he accompany her as he's almost broke. And she warns she won't wait for him more than a couple of months. When she finally becomes engaged to another, Osokin is suicidal; he pays a visit to a mystical man in town where he bemoans the fact that he can't live his life over. If he only had his time again, he'd avoid expulsion from school, alienating his rich uncle, bad behaviour in the army and frittering away a life-saving inheritance in casinos. The wizard warns it would all be just the same.. but actions a bit of time travel, and our hero wakens in his boarding school dormitory...
Before long, Osokin is observing "It seems to me that everything repeats itself, not once or twice but scores of times, like the 'Blue Danube' on a barrel organ. And I know it all by heart."
Interesting premise ( )
  starbox | Nov 30, 2017 |
Definitely written by a philosopher.
  Peter_Scissors | Jun 21, 2016 |
40 years after first reading it I still remember the plot and the depressing point of this novel. ( )
  Alphawoman | May 27, 2014 |
Ivan Osokin is a young man from the pre-revolution Russian upper crust who has managed to squander every advantage that his life circumstance has bestowed upon him. When he finds himself with only 30 kopeks to his name and realizes that he is about to lose the love of a wonderful young woman, in desperation he goes to a magician and begs to be sent back in time for a do-over of the past dozen or so years so he can make some better choices. Part of the bargain is that he will remember that he has been through it all before.

The magician sends him back to his boyhood at boarding school and we follow him as he manages to muck everything up in exactly the same way as before — from expulsion from school, to loss of his military commission and gambling away his inheritance in a drunken evening at the roulette table. He finds himself once again with only 30 kopeks and the loss of his true love.

One more time he presents himself to the magician in his parlor and predictably asks to return to the past so he can make better decisions and have a better outcome. Gradually he begins to realize that no matter how many times he goes back, the result will be the same or possibly worse.

The magician offers a different solution — to choose life, and know that in order to succeed he will have to learn to be less willful and to make certain sacrifices. In the past, he has not appreciated the consequences of his willful actions.

The magician gives him some choices to think about, and as he mills about the streets of Moscow, he has a sudden epiphany: The world would not change one iota if he were not there. ( )
1 vote Poquette | Aug 30, 2013 |
At first I enjoyed Strange Live of Ivan Osokin but then I simply became bored. For him the past, present and future appears to have merged. I just felt confused. How many times did he actually go back to make the same mistakes again and again? What is the big secret he now knows that can help him?

I felt that the way Osokin felt is similar to the feelings of one who is seriously depressed. He believes if he only could go back in time and do things differently his life would be better. And then imagines he's gone back only to make the same mistakes. At the end feeling if the past, present and future hold no choice, what is the point of life? ( )
  Bookish59 | Jun 8, 2013 |
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If you had a chance to live your life again, what would you do with it? PD Ouspensky's only novel, set in Moscow on a country estate, and in Paris, tells what happened to Ivan Osokin when he was sent back twelve tears to his stormy schooldays, early manhood and early loves.
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