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The Death of Ivan Ilyich Paperback – November 17, 2013
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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“[Tolstoy’s] late style is leaner, his forms more spare, but this is also the economy of achieved mastery. He does more with less, and the Tolstoyan sounds, instantly recognizable, are still there. . . . [Pevear and Volokhonsky’s] new version is more flexible, individuated, immediate.” —The Nation
“The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories is a great collection well translated. As a lover of Tolstoy’s work, one couldn’t ask for more, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.” —André Alexis, The Globe and Mail --The Globe and Mail
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Top Customer Reviews
Thereafter, Tolstoy applies this same talent--basically, keeping the narrative interesting as he identifies the truth underlying a mundane experience--to the life of Ivan Ilych. Tolstoy starts with Ivan as a young man. He is talented, albeit not exceptional, and wants a happy, decorous, and successful life. Once again, Tolstoy identifies what this above-average guy thinks, which ties seamlessly to his circumstances and values. As a result, the reader fully understands what guides Ivan as he builds his career, gets married, overcomes some minor setbacks, furnishes his dream house, and so on. Then, he notices a gnawing sensation in his gut and Tolstoy begins to depict the other side of Ivan's bell curve. And this time, Tolstoy is spot-on as he describes poor Ivan's thoughts and behavior as he tries to manage cancer.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILYCH is a fascinating and true book. Tolstoy has great insight and his every thought is perfectly calibrated and placed. Highly recommended.
It's a deep work and I recommend you read along with the Sparknotes of this novella, which will help point out things you might miss if you don't know much about Tolstoy.
My only complaint is that it's a "short" story. Like a lot of good books, I wish it was longer. You could knock it out in two to three hours of dedicated reading. It's got humor and deep sadness simultaneously.
The Introduction by Ronald Blythe is a must-read. It is sad to learn about the inner turmoil and conflict that Tolstoy himself had around death, and the precious time of his life he wasted obsessively worried about something that we humans can neither fathom nor explain. Tolstoy himself was the opposite of his main character, Ivan Illyich, in that the latter never wasted any time thinking about an inconvenience such as death until it were upon him, and yet both men were terrified of it to no end.
Ivan Illyich is anything but likable - it's not his terrible flaws as much as his lack of all good and decent human traits. In a way, he is disturbingly neutral, neither negative nor positive and therefore, not terribly likable. But you don't exactly read Tolstoy for his warm and fuzzy characters. You read him for the way he describes the depth and breadth of human experience, and it may be the same reason you might want to avoid Tolstoy altogether because he pulls you in deep and hard and makes you think about his message long after you have closed the last page of the book!
We simply refuse to think - really and truly think - about our own mortality. Even if we study the subject of death, it is a subject of study and no more.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
read this for class, not terrible but wouldnt read it for enjoyment!Published 23 months ago by brooke
This is a good start for individuals trying out Tolstoy for the first time. I would recommend it to others.Published on September 9, 2013 by daniel j. taylor
A very nice edition of the Tolstoy classic. This arrived as stated with no problems. I count on Amazon to be efficient and trustworthy with all products I purchase from them (which... Read morePublished on August 23, 2013 by james gray
It rambles on and stops abruptly. The characters are realistic, but shallow. It was a fast read, but not worth my time. Read morePublished on July 2, 2013 by Sue
A bit hard to read in English for a non-native speaker, but definitely a nice work of literature by the great writer.Published on March 15, 2013 by Neza
A short book on how the things that society claims we should be most focused on are likely the very things we should be least focused on.Published on February 25, 2013 by estar