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The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 17, 2009


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (November 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307268810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307268815
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.8 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2009: To anyone for whom Leo Tolstoy's masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina have stood as giants too daunting to scale, and equally to the many readers who have devoured those novels and are hungry for more, we offer The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories. Newly translated by the team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, who have enlivened the Russian classics for a new generation, this selection of 11 of his finest stories reveals a Tolstoy of many sides and unsurpassed storytelling talents. Along with smaller gems like "Alyosha the Pot," the collection features a handful of thrilling longer tales that each carry the power of a novel: the terrifying murderer's confession of "The Kreuzer Sonata," the breathlessly dramatic path of a single crime through dozens of lives in "The Forged Coupon," and the haunting account of the isolation of mortality in the legendary title story. Most revelatory of all for a modern reader is the final novella, and Tolstoy's final work, "Hadji Murat," the disturbingly contemporary story of a fiercely honorable Chechen warrior caught between local rivalries and the ambivalent reach of a decadent empire. --Tom Nissley

Review

"Tolstoy's prose is majestic, his pace measured, his characters unflinchingly true to life, his message bleak" Guardian "The simplicity and power of this novella, the story of the terrible encroachment of death on a shallow man spiritually unprepared for it, has staggered millions" Sunday Telegraph "I don't read Russian, but I think Tolstoy's writing comes over whatever translation you read...he wrote the great, terrible story The Death of Ivan Illyich" -- Redmond O'Hanlon Independent "For me, the best insight into the process of dying comes from Leo Tolstoy in his short story, The Death of Ivan Ilych, which examines the life and death of the most ordinary man" -- Oliver James Mail on Sunday --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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And the story itself is delightful to read.
Neil Gussman
Tolstoy, known for his longer more cumbersome books, gives us a short, impacting story in "The Death of Ivan Ilyich."
Eric Wilson
The translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky is great, too.
André Barros

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Although Leo Tolstoy is primarily known for writing the juggernaut masterpieces Anna Karenina and War and Peace, readers venturing into the less formidable remainder of his canon will find within them the same incisive narrative clarity, that overarching symphonic structure, and those profound eternal questions that continue to immortalize him nearly a century after his death. His shorter fiction, while little resembling precise Chekhovian gems or pithy O. Henry exercises, encompasses a macrocosm of immense character and depth, highlighting more pronouncedly his work's finest qualities pared down to concision.

While the market is abundant with myriad editions of Tolstoy's stories, this new volume of his late fiction is particularly remarkable for the collaboration of translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, both of whom have rendered critically acclaimed translations of great Russian classics. Seasoned readers of Dostoevsky will invariably direct neophytes to their landmark The Brothers Karamazov, considered today as definitive for mirroring the author's ironic humor, tortured spirituality, and most importantly, his language's cadence and tonality. At the turn of the millennium, the couple released their Anna Karenina, which later garnered international attention upon Oprah's promotion of the title in her book club. Two years ago, Pevear and Volokhonsky also published their hefty, beautiful version of War and Peace, enthralling readers of serious literature and becoming the subject of a four-week online discussion presided by the New York Times.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gridley VINE VOICE on July 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've previously posted on one long piece in this book - Hadji Murat - on my blog, Gridley Fires The remainder of this book is a collection of short stories selected by the book's translators, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, no doubt to show off the diversity in Tolstoy's story structure and subject matter. But in doing this, they've perhaps inadvertently selected stories that, except for a pair, depict Tolstoy's project of using story to demonstrate his views on morality and ethics.

Some of his moral depictions here (and almost all literature trifles with ethical dilemmas of the author's times, to one degree or another) are as subtly put as those modern by a hundred years. On the other hand, others are actually quite ham-handed. But more on this subject below.

The translators made these stories entertaining - not only by showing us the more timeless aspects of Tolstoy's literary thinking - but in herding them ever so gracefully into modern times via a more contemporary language that refuses to betray Tolstoy and the language of that time. As I've implied previously, these two translators are likely without peer in doing so.

Possibly since I'm a blue collar dude by sensibility, my favorite story (besides Hadji Murat) is Master and Man, in which a man of means, Vassily Andreich and a servant, Nikita, an older muzhik, or peasant, take off on a winter trip to another town with a snowstorm looming. The story is a masterwork of the dynamics between the two men, how they both complement one another and manage inherent class conflicts. As well, it depicts as deftly as any modern work might the ways in which Nikita belongs to nature, in which he understands, despite his usual drunken state, how to navigate nature in such times and how to yield to it in order to survive. Vassily, on the other hand, is headstrong to a fault, which proves his undoing in this Jack London-style story of man versus the elements.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jo Ann Circosta on March 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tolstoy's stories are classics, beautifully written and engaging. This collection is a classic. Whether you agree with the later
Tolstoy who could be somewhat rigid in his religiosity, his writing nevertheless is first rate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey S. Larocque on September 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
Tolstoy tried during the end of his life to simplify his writing from the gargantuan War and Peace to something that reflected his changing views on life and art. This change, a separate issue in itself, basically resulted in Tolstoy refocusing on more humanistic themes later in his life and simplifying his narratives to make them more powerful. After all the stylistic changes Tolstoy made, we get the results distilled into this book's short stories, many of which were made with this more consciously refined style in mind.

And it's a marked evolution. Every story thoroughly explores a deliberately focused theme through little more than simple narrative. Tolstoy, moralist that he is, always builds his characters and events around the most basic literary elements of humanity (dishonesty, loyalty, death), and his characters are usually guinea pigs created to be tested objectively in these situations, something like Chekhov but with a clearer message. Clear, lucid narrative and powerful themes make stories that are at least fascinating and, at best, enlightening. I really can't begin to do justice to his stories in a measly review because all the proof is in the reading.

Basically, if your life doesn't allow you the time to make the long-term commitment to War and Peace, satisfy yourself with these overlooked gems that the translators Pevear and Volokhonsky rightly recognized as needing a fresh translation for the new millennium. Get the hardcover edition because, if you're like me, you'll need something to hold up during a few re-readings of the best stories, and besides the binding obviously being solid, the texturing of the pages and cover and the size of the text raise it a cut above the average hardback edition.
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