56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Bantam Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
Tolstoy's novella makes rewarding and unsettling reading. Surely, I can think of no novel that treats dying as boldly. Death is a fact. In this story Ivan Ilyich's life and death are plainly represented in a fashion that remarkably resembles the times I have been aware of other, near people dying. What the novel puts on display in so satisfying and disconcerting a fashion is the remarkable inability or reluctance of most people (I ashamedly include myself in this group) to take part in the life of a person who is inevitably and rather immediately dying. Only one character in the novel has the goodness, humility and patience to care for a dying man, the rest scurry about and take care of their anticipated needs in the face of losing a loved one.
I find that I read this book again every year and that it remains such a fine portrait of a bureaucrat whose family life does not entirely satisfy him and whose pursuit of a more meaningful life fails to cease even in sickness, when he understands that his mortality is soon to be demonstrated. There are few works of this nature that I can set in the company of this short novel. Despite many readings, I feel I still don't entirely understand it, but later in life I imagine I will do better. This book is so excellent and the edition here lends itself to portable and pleasant reading.