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Monday, June 04, 2018

The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886) by Leo Tolstoy


Book Review
The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886)
 by Leo Tolstoy

  If you want to limit canonical authors to a maximum of three titles using early/middle/late as the three categories, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, written after Tolstoy's religious conversion, would be the "late" representative from canon mainstay Count Leo Tolstoy.  In addition to being a good example of his post-conversion work, it is also a novella, and clocks in at several hundred pages less than Crime and Punishment or Anna Karenina.

  Almost unrelentingly grim, particularly when you listen to the Audiobook while you are running, The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story of the eponymous Ilyich, a provincial court judge in Russia, who spends the entire story dying in his bed, wracked by guilt and tormented by the meaninglessness of life.  His wife is unsympathetic, his Doctor isn't helping him, and for most of the story Ilyich is wracked by indescribable pain and torment.   As I said: it's grim.  Psychologically acute, but grim. Grim, grim, grim. 

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