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La muerte de Iván Ilich by Lev Tolstoi
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La muerte de Iván Ilich (original 1886; edition 2013)

by Lev Tolstoi (Author)

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3,687932,219 (3.97)46
Hailed as one of the world's supreme masterpieces on the subject of death and dying, The Death of Ivan Ilyichis 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 Kareninaduring 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. From the Paperback edition.… (more)
Member:j_aroche
Title:La muerte de Iván Ilich
Authors:Lev Tolstoi (Author)
Info:MESTAS (2013)
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Russia, death

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The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (1886)

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English (77)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (4)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Full review to come! ( )
  Floratina | Dec 7, 2019 |
I felt a lot of trepidation going into my first Russian novel. I have heard, and myself joked for years, about such massive tomes as War and Peace, full of hundreds of characters and thousands of pages. Luckily, and not by choice, I picked up the much shorter The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which clocks in at a reasonable novella link of 99 pages, and the Bantam Classics version has a 34 page introduction by Ronald Blythe. I'm glad I did. While this was published in 1886, it contains observations about life and death that are still relevant over one hundred and thirty years later.

Author Leo Tolstoy was going through a bit of a spiritual crisis after his publication of Anna Karenina. He didn't write any fiction for nine years, obsessed with his own mortality as family members around him were dying or ill. His reactions to their passing is mirrored in this novella- the story of a high court judge who is blindsided by a terminal illness, and the selfishness of friends and family who surround him.

The opening pages are almost comical, as friends gather to pay their respects after Ivan's death (no spoiler, it's the title of the book!). His widow is fishing for government pension assistance while Ivan's body is lying in domestic state, and other friends are put out because the funeral service is cutting into their nightly card game. There's a meme floating around, asking why someone would keep working for companies that will simply replace you if you died tomorrow, and I was reminded of that as I read the opening pages. We are then given a brief sketch of Ivan's life, and we find out he was actually a decent guy. He works his way up to being a high court judge, fair and balanced and very popular. His home life is a mess. He has two surviving children (two died very young), and a wife he has come to loathe. He is financially strapped, despite his high profile job and higher wages, spending too much money on a suite of apartments to appease the high society he has become a part of. After banging his side, and not getting it treated, he begins feeling pain but works through it. He consults doctors too late, as his injury goes from a simple bruise to a terminal illness, with learned doctors poking and prodding and blaming his excruciating pain on all sorts of ailments. He finds relief in his servant Gerasim, who cleans out his chamber pot and even let's Ivan rest his legs on his shoulders to provide relief. Ivan is drawn to this pure kind soul, as is the reader. Ivan gets worse, and soon he faces the most horrible thing someone dying can face- regret (as a follower of Gary Vaynerchuk, this also speaks to today's society, and again, was written one hundred and thirty years ago).

Tolstoy's descriptions and plot are all compact and easy to understand. I was never overwhelmed by his literary style, only having to look up a few words a couple of times. The translation by Lynn Solotaroff is not awkward in the least, I kept forgetting that English was not the original language of the source material. Blythe's introduction does get wordy and bogs down here and there, but it is important to read first before starting the novella. Excellent background about how death was viewed in nineteenth century Russia, and how Tolstoy himself saw his own impending end ('we're all going to die so make the most out of this life' is another cornerstone mantra of Gary Vaynerchuk's inspirational and sometimes foul mouthed videos on YouTube) is covered. Tolstoy himself would eventually die in a rather bizarre way, alone at a train station, where he had fled to escape the materialism that surrounded him, longing for a simpler existence.

I'm still weary of reading giant epic Russian novels. I received this book in a batch of classics off of eBay for pennies a tome, but I am glad I read this one. The first book completed of the new year, and already one of the best! I give The Death of Ivan Ilyich (* * * * 1/2) out of five stars. ( )
1 vote Charles_Tatum | Oct 12, 2019 |
Short, slow in the beginning but very effective. Just like A Confession. Some great insights and beautiful moments. I really liked it. ( )
1 vote melosomelo | Jul 31, 2019 |
Amazing novel.. just 90 pages.. but depth of war and peace! ( )
  Mayank_Jain | Jul 28, 2019 |
This is not my favorite Tolstoy, but I enjoyed it. ( )
  Amelia1989 | Jun 10, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
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 (77 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolstoy, Leoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blythe, RonaldIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bremer, GeertAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edmonds, RosemaryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eekman, T.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solotaroff, LynnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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)
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Information from the Catalan Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Citacions:
"Jo no seré : què hi haurà aleshores?.." sobre la mort i el que passara desprès (cap v)
Cap vii. Sobre la mentida:"Aquesta mentida al seu voltant i al seu mateix interior fou el que més va anar enverinant..." (s ha de mentir al moribund sobre la seva mort?).Al papà no li vam dir la veritat.
Quin es el.patiment moral que té? Que s adona que no ha viscut d una manera com calia? (Ca xi)
Al final es reconv ilu a amb la vida i la mort? (Cap (cap xii)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This edition also contains "Maître et Serviteur" and "Trois Morts"
Please note that this work is only for "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" only, not for any work with any other stories.
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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.
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