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All else is false. This personal epiphany caused significant spiritual upheaval in Tolstoy's life, prompting him to question the Russian Orthodox Church , sexuality , education , serfdom , etc. From a biographical standpoint, therefore, it is possible to interpret The Death of Ivan Ilyich as a manifestation of Tolstoy's embroilment with death and the meaning of his own life during his final years. Martin Heidegger 's magnum opus , Being and Time , refers to the novella as an illustration of Being towards death.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Novella by Leo Tolstoy. This article is about the novella. For the Austrian development critic, see Ivan Illich. Northwestern University Press. The Death of Ivan Ilyich. The Story and Its Writer. Martin's Bloomington, Ind. Lectures On Russian Literature.


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The Literature Network. Jalic Inc. Retrieved February 23, A Confession. Mineola: Dover Publications. The Big Read — The Gemsbok. Your Tuesday Tome. Chicago Review. The physician cannot pinpoint the source of his malady, but soon it becomes clear that his condition is terminal. Confronted with his diagnosis, Ivan attempts every remedy he can to obtain a cure for his worsening situation, until the pain grows so intense that he is forced to cease working and spend the remainder of his days in bed. Here, he is brought face to face with his mortality and realizes that, although he knows of it, he does not truly grasp it.

During the long and painful process of dying, Ivan dwells on the idea that he does not deserve his suffering because he has lived rightly. If he had not lived a good life, there could be a reason for his pain; but he has, so pain and death must be arbitrary and senseless.

ISBN 13: 9789706271600

As he begins to hate his family for avoiding the subject of his death, for pretending he is only sick and not dying, he finds his only comfort in his peasant boy servant, Gerasim, the only person in Ivan's life who does not fear death, and also the only one who, apart from his own son, shows compassion for him.

Ivan begins to question whether he has, in fact, lived a good life.

In the final days of his life, Ivan makes a clear split between an artificial life, such as his own, which masks the true meaning of life and makes one fear death, and an authentic life, the life of Gerasim. Authentic life is marked by compassion and sympathy, the artificial life by self-interest. Then "some force" strikes Ivan in the chest and side, and he is brought into the presence of a bright light.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich - Wikipedia

His hand falls onto his nearby son's head, and Ivan pities his son. He no longer hates his daughter or wife, but rather feels pity for them, and hopes his death will release them. In so doing, his terror of death leaves him, and as Tolstoy suggests, death itself disappears. In , philosopher Merold Westphal said that the story depicts "death as an enemy which 1 leads us to deceive ourselves, 2 robs us of the meaning of life, and 3 puts us in solitary confinement.

Tolstoy's book is about many things: the tyranny of bourgeois niceties, the terrible weak spots of the human heart, the primacy and elision of death.

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But more than anything, I would offer, it is about the consequences of living without meaning, that is, without a true and abiding connection to one's life Indeed, the mundane portrayal of Ivan's life coupled with the dramatization of his long and grueling battle with death seems to directly reflect Tolstoy's theories about moral living , which he largely derived during his sabbatical from personal and professional duties in In his lectures on Russian literature , Russian-born novelist and critic Vladimir Nabokov argues that, for Tolstoy, a sinful life such as Ivan's is moral death.

Therefore, death, the return of the soul to God, is, for Tolstoy, moral life. To quote Nabokov: "The Tolstoyan formula is: Ivan lived a bad life and since the bad life is nothing but the death of the soul, then Ivan lived a living death; and since beyond death is God's living light, then Ivan died into a new life — Life with a capital L.

Death permeates the narrative in a realistic and absorbing fashion, but the actual physicality of death is only present in the early chapters during Ivan's wake. Instead, the story leads the reader through a pensive, metaphysical exploration of the reason for death and what it means to truly live. Tolstoy was a man who struggled greatly with self-doubt and spiritual reflection, especially as he grew close to his own death in Alvaro Maya marked it as to-read Apr 17, Deborah Mendez marked it as to-read Feb 05, Thomas Tharyan marked it as to-read Aug 11, Roger Gil added it Dec 01, Noelia Cadena marked it as to-read Aug 05, Sebastian marked it as to-read Aug 15, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

About Leo Tolstoy.


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  7. Leo Tolstoy. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina , are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction. Many consider Tolstoy to have been one of the world's greatest novelists.

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    Tolstoy is equally known for his complicated and paradoxical persona and for his extreme moralistic and ascetic views, which he adopted after a moral crisis and spiritual awakening in the s, after which he also became noted as a moral thinker and social reformer. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. Books by Leo Tolstoy. No trivia or quizzes yet.

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