The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Confession
"Death is over," he said to himself. "There is no more death.
When I picked this book up at a library book sale, I did so without expectation that I would actually enjoy reading it. See, I had mistakenly given up on the masters of Russian literature due to the struggles I had reading a particular novel (Im looking at you Brothers Karamazov!), assuming they were all inaccessible and there was no point in expending anymore energy trying to make sense of books with characters that go by 3 different ...more
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, considered one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. Usually classed among the best examples of the novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of a high-court judge and his sufferings and death from a terminal illness in 19th-century Russia.
Ivan Ilyich is dying. As he grows sicker and fits in less with his fairweather friends and family and their preoccupations with their social lives, they ...more
Today I turned the last page of Banvilles Eclipse and was literally hit by the profundity of a book that surreptitiously echoes the mastery of the classic tragedies. My pupils dilated until they watered when I bumped into this paragraph:
As a boy I knew the stars, and loved to speak their names over to myself, in celestial litany, Venus, Betelgeuse, Aldebaran, the Bears, great and lesser. How I loved the coldness of those lights, their purity, their remoteness from us and all we do and all that ...more
This arresting line is a synopsis of what all of this boils down to. More than likely, in my pre-Emo high school years, had I read all 52 grueling pages of "The Death of Ivan Ilych", and truly understood its exquisite prolonged lingering around the very morbid notion of death, it would have been a brick in my fo(und/rm)ation. Sadly, nowadays I am way more bubbly and optimistic than ever, so I had a healthy distance between ...more
They had supper and went away, and Ivan Ilych was left alone with the consciousness...more
Ivan Ilyich enjoyed an upper middle class life in pre revolutionary Russia. He graduated from a jurisprudence ...more
The story begins with Ivans presentation, a man who has achieved everything he wanted in life, a high-level job, respect and power as a district "magistrate", a family of good standard and a house rearranged as he wished....
but here comes the pain, or just called by Ivan, "IT" ; its just so called initially a strange discomfort in the abdomen, and then it turns ...more
The Death of Ivan Ilyich Leo Tolstoy
The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one of the greatest tales of redemption and forgiveness I have ever read. What Tolstoy accomplished in the last 10 pages of this novella was amazing.
Tolstoy is at his best writing about the social interactions of human beings. He has such an amazing feel for the things that go on between people; the hypocrisy, the pretending, the way people lie to each other on a daily basis. And he ...more
Tolstoy has all the pertinent Russian elements: death, misery, estrangement, corrupt aristocracy, worthless professional class, strong and noble peasantry metaphorically and actually carrying the rich on their backs, guilt and a moment of clarity before the end.
Tolstoy, through the fictitious character of Ivan Ilych, exposes the concept of death and human feelings when they are confronted with death. Ivan Ilych, a judge, leads an active professional life, and performs his social duty well. He is also a husband and a ...more
But what Tolstoy brings to the table is an outline of his life, his propriety, his career, and his failings as a husband and father (though he would never call it such) and the realization that he, perforce, must die.
Enter pain, existential horror, and bafflement.
Very Russian. Very universal. And extremely well-written.
And for the man who wrote War and Peace? SO SHORT! :)
At the same ...more
I had expected this novella to be all dark and depressing. But it turned out to be dark with a silver lining. Through telling a story about the life of a Russian judge, who falls ill at the height of his career and life accomplishment, Tolstoy leads the reader into the inner struggles of the protagonist as he is confronted with the threat of death. The writing is simple and calm but has an intimacy and immediacy about it that it rattles one's nerves and fibers. The questions raised about life ...more
...the most tormenting thing for Ivan Ilyich was that no one pitied him as he wanted to be pitied: there were moments, after prolonged suffering, when Ivan Ilyich wanted most of all, however embarrassed he would have been to ...more
A mini-review not intended for the easily offended (i.e., theres a dirty part)
But first, Constance Garnett. Is it possible that this woman was the best and worst thing to happen to all Russian public domain titles? She seems to have translated everything Russian that was in print at the time of her demise. Given that her translations are, likely, the stuff much academic criticism is based on, one has to wonder what could have been. There is a vague sort of missed opportunity that hovers over...more