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The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
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The Death of Ivan Ilych (original 1886; edition 2006)

by Leo Tolstoy (Author)

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4,2691132,046 (3.96)54
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:Marco357
Title:The Death of Ivan Ilych
Authors:Leo Tolstoy (Author)
Info:Waking Lion Press (2006), 86 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (1886)

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» See also 54 mentions

English (95)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (114)
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
It's impossible to review this book, and tremendously strange (and yet, amusing) to me that the reason that pops into my mind is "I'm not worthy!" ala Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World. It's no accident that Tolstoy is a literary giant, and even (especially?) in this most slender of his works, it is easy to see why. I am not worthy, indeed, but I am grateful. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
I grabbed this last week as Tolstoy is one of those authors who you just have to read and I didn't know where to start. Rather than jumping in at the deep end and regretting it I decided that a novella was the place to go to. This edition of The Death of Ivan Ilyich also contains The Devil with both it's endings and some background on Tolstoy himself. The whole book is only about 160 pages long so I decided I had nothing to lose and jumped right in.

I'll start with The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which is basically a commentary on life and what we achieve during our time on the earth. I have to say I had my doubts about this. I don't buy into the whole concept of living every day as if it is your last on earth, its just no something I see as being possible. This book has not changed my outlook in this respect but it does bring up some interesting emotions.

Ivan Ilyich has everything that should mean that he has had a meaningful and pleasant life. He is successful and well regarded in his field and community, he is also fairly wealthy. All is well until he has an accident that he laughs off. From then on in things slowly start to go awry with his health and he succumbs to an illness I would say sounds a lot like cancer. As he is dying he is in a lot of anguish both physically and mentally and this leads him to contemplate if he spent his life chasing the wrong things. Did he heave too much importance on gaining material things instead of spiritual development?

This is the exact thing that grabbed my attention and it has to be said it really got into my head a bit. I can really see the similar thinking to some Buddhist and Eastern spiritual books that I have read.

The Devil is a very different tale all together and legend has it that Tolstoy wrote this while cheating on his wife and had to keep it hidden from her lest he was caught out. The tale is an interesting one but not a huge amount really grabbed me until the closing sections of the book when things get a little crazy.

I think its clear to see that Tolstoy was hugely tormented by his feelings for 2 women and as much as he tried to fight his emotions he ultimately succumbed to them. I liked the fact that there were two different endings. ( )
  Brian. | Jun 19, 2021 |
Short, depressing book. Ivan wanting more in life. Cancer. Regrets. Happiness at instant of passing (relief). ( )
  bogopea | Jun 4, 2021 |
This is a 2.5 hour audio book. I quit with an hour to go because I just couldn't stand the tedium any more.

I've decided that Russian literature is not my thing. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
Has anyone read this book and not thought it was, to some extent, about themselves? If you have, and you didn't, then you are either the a supremely enlightened person or you are deceiving yourself.

I guess the trick, and the whole point, is to come to the important realizations somewhere sooner than a hour before you die.

I have read this a few but not nearly enough times.

( )
  ChrisMcCaffrey | Apr 6, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (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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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Epigraph
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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)
In the large building housing the Law Courts, during a recess in the Melvinsky proceedings, members of the court and the public prosecutor met in the office of Ivan Egorovich Shebek, where the conversation turned on the celebrated Krasov case.
(the Lynn Solotaroff translation)
Quotations
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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Disambiguation notice
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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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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.

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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.
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