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The Death of Ivan Ilyich Paperback – November 17, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Excellent. . . . The duo has managed to convey the rather simple elegance of Tolstoy’s prose.” —The New Criterion

“[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

About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province. He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. He is the author, among many other works, of War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877) and A Confession (1879-82).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: Tribeca Books (November 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936594668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936594665
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the story but agree with the other reviewers that this version seems to be some strange open-access version created with autocorrect and plopped between two covers. Typos and lack of periods make the book hard to read and distract from the reading experience (they make you want to laugh in exasperation instead of getting immersed in the story). I was swayed by the cheap price but wish I had gotten a copy from the library instead.
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I don't know how to rate this book. The book itself is amazing, but this print is a COMPLETE DISASTER. It's full of spelling mistakes, incomplete and/or incoherent sentences, random letters, missing punctuation. I can't believe they would sell it in this condition.
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This is a good book...if somewhat depressing. The Ivan Ilyich name came up in a conversation with a friend of mine, and I decided to get the book just to know what it was about. I learned a lot from it. I would recommend this book to anyone thinking of purchasing it.
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Spend an extra couple bucks and get an edition that isn't Print on Demand with a translation almost certainly stolen from Google.
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THE DEATH OF IVAN ILYCH is a superb and efficient novella. It begins with Peter Ivanovich--a colleague and card buddy of Ivan--who is doing the right thing and making a condolence call on Ivan's widow. Peter regrets Ivan's death, although he has not seen Ivan in a while. But then, as he makes his call, Peter's thoughts drift from this to that. Paraphrased, these include: Ivan's death may create opportunities in the office; maybe I can avoid viewing the body; death is an accident natural to Ivan but not to me; maybe I can squeeze in a few hands of bridge before dinner; Ivan looks dignified in death; this ottoman is uncomfortable; she is asking, indirectly, about Ivan's pension and wondering if it can be increased. IMHO, Tolstoy never plays a false note, as he shows the shallow and somewhat sympathetic Peter doing his duty. Everything the ordinary Peter thinks is credible. Everything he thinks and does fits perfectly with the space and time he inhabits.

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.
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A very moving story that explores the death of someone. First they are healthy and then they get sick and die. It's a short story and a very quick read and an amazing portrait of a person who is dying...and who ultimately dies. Very penetrating and gets you thinking about the nature of death. Good stuff.
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A good short story. By "good", I really should say above average.

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.
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Format: Paperback
I read The Death of Ivan Illyich not only because it is the work of brilliant Leo Tolstoy, a genius whose every prose cuts through my heart, but also because Dr. Wayne Dyer once said that reading this book at 19 completely changed his thinking. As if that were not enough, I fondly remember how my mom read this book as part of an English class assignment in college; she went to college at the same time as me (I was so proud of her, by the way), and Tolstoy even had my mom talking about this book to her family!

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.
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