Item description for The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Complete Classics) by Leo Tolstoy & Oliver Ford Davies...
Overview As an unusual illness plagues Russian public official Ivan Ilyich, his life is forever changed as he deals with doctors who cannot diagnose or treat him, as well as a certain death sentence.
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Studio: Naxos AudioBooks
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 4.75" Weight: 0.45 lbs.
Release Date Jan 8, 2008
Publisher Naxos AudioBooks
ISBN 9626348518 ISBN13 9789626348512
Availability 0 units.
More About Leo Tolstoy & Oliver Ford Davies
One of the greatest Russian writers of the 19th century, Leo Tolstoy is best known for his novels The Cossacks, Resurrection, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which are considered to be among the best examples of realistic fiction ever written, as well as non-fiction including A Confession and What Is Art?. In addition to his writing, Tolstoy was known as a moral thinker and social reformer who embraced ascetic views in his personal life, and his writings on non-violent resistance, particularly The Kingdom of God Is Within You, influenced such notable activists as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Tolstoy died of pneumonia in 1910, leaving behind a rich literary legacy that has been translated around the world and adapted for many international films.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Complete Classics)?
The Death of Ivan Illyich and Other Stories Mar 30, 2010
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.
Living the Wrong Way? Mar 3, 2010
Tolstoy, known for his longer more cumbersome books, gives us a short, impacting story in "The Death of Ivan Ilyich." He captures the tragedy and pathos of the Russian mind, but goes beyond that and brushes against universal fears and struggles.
Ivan has lived his life according to his own plan, a plan that coincides with the expectations of his family and society. Despite a few early setbacks, he rises to the level of a court judge, marries an attractive woman, and has children who are advancing as expected. He buys a home and remodels it to fit his and his wife's whims. He toes the line, follows the rules, and finds moments of happiness playing whist with his friends. These are the same friends who can think of little else, even in the hour of his memorial service.
After a seemingly inconsequential accident, Ivan realizes he has faced internal damage and is heading irreversibly toward death. He has never entertained such a thought before. Dying? Why? Where is the sympathy of his family? Why does he despise his wife's touch? What value has his life been?
Ivan faces these questions and sinks into a terrible darkness, resisting the sense that he has lived his life the wrong way. It's a genuine fear, and Tolstoy faces it squarely, courageously, offering some reprieve in the end but not too much. His subject is serious, and he treats it so.
Great Story, but Why Not Buy a Collection? Feb 18, 2010
"The Death of Ivan Ilych" is Tolstoy's most famous short work and possibly his best - indeed, one of the best short works by anyone. It is certainly great enough to buy alone but is also available in many editions with other stories, so there is no reason to get this unless one especially likes the translation.
However, there is certainly no denying the excellence of the story itself. Tolstoy's first work of fiction in some time, it was greeted with worldwide enthusiasm, and it is a testament to its greatness that it did not disappoint. That conversion had a profound effect on Tolstoy's fiction is almost immediately clear, but his genius is still very much intact. The most obvious change is greatly increased didacticism; his major works always had overriding themes, but suddenly he was not only trying to say something but to make us act on it. The story is in one sense a portrait of a type - the hard-working, upwardly mobile, middle-class worker whose rise is admirable but who is perhaps ambitious to a fault and becomes so obsessed with advancement, success, and impressing others that he neglects all else to the detriment of himself and those dependent on him. Such people are rarely happy despite all the ostensible success; ambition keeps them in constant frenzy, and they are always worried about falling behind, becoming irritable and impatient. Family life, if they have one, is superficial and often miserable. Eventually they find, as Ivan does, that none of their gains bring peace of mind. Ivan is thus a warning; we must see his hopeless path's folly unless, like him, we die before amends can be made. The essential moral is thus so familiar as to be sentimentally clichéd - we must realize that the everyday aspects of life that few even think of after all take up most of our time, and neglecting them for supposedly higher worldly things is hardly the best or easiest way to happiness. Tolstoy conveys this so convincingly - and, what is far more important, movingly - that we could forgive the hackneyed message even if there were nothing more. However, his presentation is so compelling that the simple message actually reaches sublime heights, creating a true masterpiece even on this very limited scale.
But of course there is far more. One need not look far to find strong evidence of the anti-capitalist, anti-materialist philosophy Tolstoy then held. The story is in great part a modern dramatization of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the basis for Tolstoy's theology; we should renounce worldly vanities for truly higher things. Few have called "The Death" a Christian story, but it is in this way one of the most truly Christian works. The famed agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll said that Tolstoy was the truest and most sincere Christian alive, and this is evidence. Of course one need not agree with Tolstoy to appreciate the story, as its core messages are universal; by using one character (Jesus) as inspiration and another (Ivan) as his vehicle, Tolstoy speaks to all.
Perhaps the story's most elemental and sadly relatable element is its relentlessly unflinching, nearly obsessive death focus. Though only about sixty pages, it seemingly deals with all death's forms. The most immediate is simply a very detailed realist portrayal of a sick man's slow decline. Anna Karenina's long deathbed scene had already taken this tack, but this goes even further, emphasizing nearly every conceivable detail so painstakingly that we get a near-physical sense of how such a situation feels. Russian writers are famous for showing the dark sides of life that most authors, especially then, were unable or unwilling to even admit, and this is one of Tolstoy's major contributions. Death is also approached philosophically; this is indeed one of Tolstoy's most philosophical works despite the brevity. Ivan's ruminations are unfortunately representative to the extent that people think of death in any real way - it was but an abstract concept until it hit him. Tolstoy goes into the various psychological reasons for this with his usual acuity; his detailed, lifelike exposition of Ivan's thoughts is one of literature's most compelling psychological portraits. However, Ivan is again essentially a warning; few have ever been as fully aware of death as Tolstoy, and the work would serve a great purpose if it imparted even a little of his knowledge to readers - not because death is avoidable but so they can make their lives meaningful in a way Ivan was unaware that he could do until it was too late.
Those lacking Tolstoy's meliorism may consider pointing out such a thing useless - or even perverse -, and even many Christians will be puzzled. Christianity after all teaches that life is vanity, that we should focus on heavenly things, and that earthly suffering is of no consequence because the good will be rewarded eternally in heaven. Here we begin to see Tolstoy's unorthodoxy and get significant insight into why his theology was almost universally denounced. Lacking belief in an afterlife, he wisely thought that we must make the most of this life, though not of course by embracing materialism. The story does not go into detail about what we should do instead, though Tolstoy's non-fiction covers that in detail. What it does do is show the other path's fatal consequences, and whether or not we agree, it is impossible to deny the strength of the argument as thus dramatized or the story's central power. Perhaps the most remarkable thing of all is that, unlike most art that tries to alter behavior, the story is not heavy-handed. Didactic elements arise naturally from the story and never overwhelm it - a lesson from which most sociopolitically conscious writers have much to learn.
Though obviously famous for long works, those who read Tolstoy know that his prose is not overblown. He is indeed nothing less than precise and even concise, saying exactly what he needs to say straight-forwardly and - in the best sense - simply. His works are not lengthy because of excessive detail, overlong dialogue, or florid description but simply because they tackle so many issues and have so much depth. Nor is he hard to read in the usual literary way so feared by students; no Modernist, he avoids difficult language, is strikingly non-allusive, and otherwise writes in a way that anyone - or at least anyone willing to deal with length - can understand. "The Death" exemplifies this. It is the collection's shortest story, but its wealth of ideas and emotions are surely already clear. The economy of language is truly remarkable, definitively showing that Tolstoy is not only a master stylist but simply a master even in an area considered his weak point.
All told, "The Death" should definitely be read, but it would be hard to justify by this or any other standalone edition.
This is NOT the kindle ed. Feb 16, 2010
Please note:The Richard Pevear (Translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translator) edition reviewed here is not the $1.00 Kindle edition. So if you want this translation, do not get the Kindle version.
Very Profound Feb 13, 2010
I had the unfortunate opportunity of reading this while I was going through cancer treatment myself not knowing if I was going to live or die. Not sure why I picked it other then being captive by its title. I must say, it didn't cheer me up, but, was a very honest look at death and dealing with the inevitable.
Words cannot describe the impact it had on me at the time. Ivan Ilych, though imperfect as he was, you cannot help but feel his pain and emotional turmoil he goes through. Through the discovery of his illness, to the pain of it and trying to cope, then his feelings of abandonment of his wife and family.
One of the few books I have read in my life that touched me because for me it was at a time when I felt as if I was "him".