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Strange Life of Ivan Osokin

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  348 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Set in Moscow and Paris, Ouspensky's only full-length novel explores the theme of "eternal recurrence", a theory of time developed in Ouspensky's classic book A New Model of the Universe.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published November 1st 1988 by Penguin Books (first published 1915)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 716)
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Mar 22, 2012 Capsguy rated it liked it
Shelves: russian
Eh, not altogether bad. The prose itself is less than average (in comparison to the quality of work I generally read, in comparison to genre-fiction this would be better than average), however I found the little life lessons an enjoyable thing to consume this afternoon.

Certainly does make the reader think about the monotony of life, and how we really don't have a choice, but it's not something I'd live my life by.

The preaching at the end was justified, since it was sharp and straight to the poin
I don't know if we have free will, I wonder about it, and there are many philosophers and scientists on both sides of the arguments, so I'm not alone. Ivan Osokin, the memorable young Russian character living the strange life of eternal recurrence in this well written novel, seems to be someone who maybe believes in free will but certainly doesn't practice it, at least not in an affirmative way. Most of his choices are negations, the lack of action, but worse than that is he lives his life over ...more
Jan 25, 2015 Scot rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual, fiction
A mind-stretching story of recurrence - the concept that we continue to repeat the same life over and over again, not quite reincarnation, actually repeating the same life. The main character has the chance to go back 12 years in life and struggles to do anything different no matter how much he wants to. Eerie when you apply it to your life, the book gets into your head a little and you start to think about in a way where this could be real, this could be me. Worth a read for anyone familiar wit ...more
Anežka Svobodová
Jul 19, 2014 Anežka Svobodová rated it it was ok
I am quite perplexed about what Ouspensky's main point was. Behind the vague and not really exceptional story of Osokin, who has to endure hardship and than eperiences several romances, which are generally unimportant for the plot, there is a second level of the book, attempting to be highly philosophical or even worse mystical.

When Osokin wants to finish his tragical life, he meets a magician, who can return him in time, but gives him a warning that nothing will change anway. Then he lives his
Aug 08, 2012 Wendy rated it liked it

I found this book to be odd and frustrating. As a whole I loved the writing, but I felt that the main character made the book so frustrating to read! also the ending seemed to lack a little something, having the magician facilitate in delivering a moral was a real let down. It gave the novel is school yard feel that totally killed it for me. Still, a good read.
Aug 31, 2015 Fatih rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
1905 yılında yazılan roman "geçmişe dönüş" türündeki kitapların ilk örneklerinden biri sanırım. Diğerlerinden farklı bir şekilde geçmişin değiştirilemez olduğunu vurgulamış kitabında. Akıcı üslubuyla kolayca okunan kitap, felsefi düşüncesiyle de fikirleri üzerinde düşündürmeyi başarıyor.
Jul 05, 2015 michel rated it it was amazing
i had forgotten the essential nature of ivan's character, and the sense with which he plunges headlong and headstrong into his re-life.

oh, to embrace chances.
Aug 12, 2008 Flowquietly rated it it was amazing
a different explanation to De ja vu, cracking good story as well
William Bredberg
Mar 11, 2013 William Bredberg rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shasta McBride
Sep 05, 2010 Shasta McBride rated it liked it
Recommended to Shasta by: Fred Weintraub
What an odd little frustratingly good/ annoying book. Sort of a combo between the film Waking Life, Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and Houllebecq's Platform, Osokin finds himself on a repeat loop of his boring failed life, Ouspensky getting preachy in the final chapters (thinly veiled through The Magician) about how one should do it. However, was first book in long while that I couldn't stop reading. Favorite part was that it was told in the third person limited present tense and done very well.

Aug 09, 2015 Rudy rated it liked it
Weird. I read this for class, and I was ultimately disappointed. I feel like I was irritated for most of the book, as it's just making the same point over and over. And I guess that kind of makes sense with the story, as the main character is pretty irritated with his situation too. I just don't think it was worked well for the novel. The saving grace for the book for me was the fact that I got to discuss it in class, so that was nice. Also the end was fittingly strange. ~2.7 stars
Aug 08, 2010 Jonathan rated it really liked it
A low four star rating. A good read leaving me with some interesting ideas to ponder. The idea for the plot is fascinating yet the messages the author is conveying could be wrapped into the story in a more delicate fashion leaving the reader with a feeling that he/she derived the lessons on their own. Lumping them toward the end of the book as a lessons to learn list made me feel as though I was reading for a school course, though in truth it did directly state the author's intent for writing th ...more
Jan 29, 2016 Luisa rated it it was ok
Not bad. Interesting, but also a little confusing. Not very satisfying or particularly great, but it is thought provoking.
Mar 05, 2015 Luke rated it liked it
It's rather weak as literary work though final scene is very interesting - especially for ppl interested in Gurdjieff work (and because of that I'd give 5 stars).
Aug 29, 2012 Gregory marked it as to-read
Very worthwhile read
Strange Life of Ivan OsokinStrange Life of Ivan Osokin by P.D. Ouspensky

Very worthwhile read

View all my reviews

Frank Dobner
Great study in free-will versus universal will
Nishit Gajjar
Jun 17, 2015 Nishit Gajjar rated it it was amazing
Marvelous Work!
David Harris
Aug 25, 2013 David Harris rated it really liked it
This is a very thought-provoking story. I would have awarded it five stars without hesitation except that the translation reads more like a screenplay than a novel. Perhaps that's how the original itself reads, and perhaps that was Ouspensky's intention. Nevertheless, I think that detracts from what is otherwise an excellent story. Don't let that stop you from reading it, though. In my opinion, it's well worth your time. And it's actually quite a quick read.
Paul Julian
Mar 02, 2015 Paul Julian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: Tony Reid
4 1/2 stars
Jul 30, 2012 Carl rated it really liked it
Read this years ago and have always wanted to write a YA novel following its theme of eternal recurrence. The first sentence of the book follows logically from the last sentence, so you could read it forever. Snake devouring itself, and a little Finnegans Wake too.

Cool tone, very enjoyable and very fast read.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I will admit that I don't have much to say about this book, but that doesn't mean it was bad.

What I will say is this book was odd, but I appreciated that it was a quick read. I also appreciated the way it approached the philosophy of pre-determination vs. free will.
Mar 01, 2008 Darceylaine rated it liked it
somewhat tedious to read at times, but it makes some compelling points about how we give up agency in our own lives, and how decisions about our lives direction are really made
Lauren RM
Nov 05, 2010 Lauren RM rated it liked it
I really like the writing style and the concept is good, but reading it is a little painful. You just want him to change and you know he won't!
Dec 12, 2007 W.B. rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all-time favorite novels. Very plangent in places...almost unbearable in its pathos at moments but exquisitely so...
Joyce Pavao
Apr 07, 2008 Joyce Pavao rated it it was amazing
i must reread this now that it has been about 35 years since i read it. it was my most favorite, but would it be now?
Sharmila Mukherjee
Mar 25, 2013 Sharmila Mukherjee marked it as to-read
Story of a young man who is given a chance to re live his life and correct his mistakes in 1902 Moscow.
Stela Brinzeanu
Oct 08, 2013 Stela Brinzeanu rated it it was amazing
5 stars only for its concept. Fatalism or a profound truth..? - Sill can't decide..
Christina Stenstrom
Apr 03, 2011 Christina Stenstrom rated it liked it
Another assignment of Prof. Smithers to revisit soon.
Nov 27, 2011 Peter added it
Definitely written by a philosopher.
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“There is something in us that keeps us where we find ourselves. I think this is the most awful thing of all.” 19 likes
“a man can be given only what he can use; and he can use only that for which he has sacrificed something” 14 likes
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