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The Death of Ivan Ilyich Hardcover – April 25, 2011
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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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Top Customer Reviews
Paradoxically, this story is just as much about the life of Ivan Ilyich as it is about his death. This is in order to fully appreciate who he is and the man he has made of himself before disaster strikes. It is also to highlight both the tragic deterioration of his life and the gradual enlightenment of his inmost soul.
In portraying Ivan Ilyich's character, Tolstoy's subtle but inexorable condemnation is devastating. Not a detail is gratuitous: every point further serves to illustrate what is essentially a life without ideals and without purpose. Yet the author does not beat us over the head with this, rather than allowing the clear and unembellished facts to speak for themselves. And the way Tolstoy knew exactly which facts to accentuate creates a psychological depth which is unparalleled.
Many seem to be under the impression that Ivan Ilyich was some sort of villain, and that the story is a warning against corruption and bad behavior. My personal view is that Ivan Ilyich is no worse--although no better--than many people. Perhaps he is of a slightly lesser moral calibre than most, but that does not make him completely evil. To believe that he is evil is to miss the whole point, for this story was meant to be universal, to depict a reality which exists for us all.Read more ›
The premise is simple. A solid career guy with all the trappings of `success'--secure job, nice house, presentable wife--lifts his arm one day and feels something go `twang' inside him. No big deal, he thinks. Probably tweaked a muscle or something. Except the little pain doesn't go away. Its not ever going away. It's a message--a message of mortality. The Grim Reaper is at the door. Time's up.
Now this is bad enough news, for sure. But that's only the beginning of this novel of existential horror. For as our hero lies a-dying he sees the life around him--the carefully tended garden of his years--as if for the first time. That is, he sees how bitter, fraudulent, and full of decay and vermin it truly is. From his fair-weather friends and business associates to his vain and self-centered wife who fritters about the inconvenience attendant upon her husband's impending death as if it were a personal affront and the greatest of injustices--to her, *The Death of Ivan Ilych* offers a bedside view of the cruel absurdity of the inhuman comedy. For as the protagonist lies suffering on his deathbed and reviews his life and how it has--and hasn't--added up, he endures a torment that is almost Christ-like in its intensity and resulting in a revelation as immense in its profundity. But whether one of heaven or hell, truth or pacifying illusion is up to each reader to decide.Read more ›
But I don't want to scare you off. Tolstoy is perfectly accessible, the title character's dilemma is heartrending (the title gives you a clue), the characters universal, and the effect upon closing the cover after the last page indelible. If one person reads it after reading these 10 reviews, I'll be happy.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are taking care of one who is seriously ill or in his or her senescence, Tolstoy's novella will add a depth of appreciation for the experience of helplessness and the desire... Read morePublished 4 hours ago by Timothy J. Donnelly
Sometimes we just forget whether we are living the life we've always wanted or whether we are living to meet the expectations of the others. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Ivo Skopal
Too tired to write a big review now, but the five stars say enough.Published 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
That all will die is an inevitable reality. No one can predict when death will come, but one can definitely prepare for it and be ready when the moment arrives. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Let's Read
The dying man's reflections provided a lot of room for thought and need for compassion for people less healthier than yourself.Published 23 days ago by Kailash Narayan
One of my favourite books. A book to read more than once, one for the library.Published 1 month ago by Larry Tyler
This was a gift. But, the recipient was not particularly satisfied.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer