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The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories

The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories

Written by Leo Tolstoy

Narrated by George K. Wilson


The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories

Written by Leo Tolstoy

Narrated by George K. Wilson

ratings:
4.5/5 (16 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 9, 2009
ISBN:
9781400180776
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

Hailed as one of the world's supreme masterpieces on the subject of death and dying, Leo Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" is the story of a worldly careerist, a high court judge who has never given the inevitability of his death so much as a passing thought. But one day, death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise he is brought face to face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?



This novella was the artistic culmination of a profound spiritual crisis in Tolstoy's life, a nine-year period following the publication of Anna Karenina during which he wrote not a word of fiction. A thoroughly absorbing and, at times, terrifying glimpse into the abyss of death, it is also a strong testament to the possibility of finding spiritual salvation.



Also included in this volume are "The Forged Coupon," "After the Dance," "My Dream," "There Are No Guilty People," and "The Young Tsar."
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 9, 2009
ISBN:
9781400180776
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is the author of War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, and other classics of Russian literature.


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What people think about The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories

4.4
16 ratings / 13 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    The chronology of this is wonderful. It begins with the end, making the reader question why we should care, and then builds up, creating this flawed but sympathetic character going through life crises most of us can empathize with, before...A phenomenal ending that couldn't have gone any other way.
  • (4/5)
    This one was recommended to me by a friend who has since passed away. He reminisced on this as the book that changed the way he looked at life. I read it shortly after he passed away, to feel a bit closer and to help me through the grieving process. It was a good one but definitely quite depressing.
  • (5/5)
    Wow... This is such an unpleasant and disturbing read. In the Keutzer Sonata we've come lightyears, it would seem, from the Tolstoy I thought I knew. The Death of Ivan Ilych is as brilliant as anything else, but the Keutzer Sonata is the taint of Tolstoy's entire career in my opinion. Brilliant, in purely aesthetical terms, as always with Tolstoy, but the beliefs espoused in this novella (obviously Tolstoy's own) is so far removed from todays and seem so harsh and unrelenting that it becomes almost unbearable. I don't know what to think of it all. I loved Ivan Ilych so much that I would like to give it something beyond perfection, but felt so repulsed by the sonata that it rocked the entire pedestal upon which I had placed Tolstoy. It might just keel over...
  • (5/5)
    Exquisitely crafted short stories. One of a small list of books i'll re-read. Ivan Ilych doesn't waste a word in illuminating the soul's contents. Brilliant flashes of humor throughout lighten the agony.
  • (5/5)
    A very good collection of short stories, worthy as an introduction to Tolstoy for those who aren't ready to tackle War and Peace or Anna Karenina. They have much to say about the human condition, the nature of love and desire, marriage, family relationships and death, and as such have relevance for readers in many countries and cultures. Family Happiness is probably the least good of the quartet, lacking the passion and drama of the other three stories. It is a study of the changing nature of love in the marriage between a young girl and an older man (though he is only in his late 30s!). The Death of Ivan Ilyich is one I have just read separately, so I did not re-read it in this collection. For the sake of completeness here though: this concerns the thoughts and feelings of a man towards his family and those around him as he gets progressively more ill and is then dying from a wasting disease that sounds like cancer. The opening chapters are quite light-hearted with some ruefully amusing reflections on marriage and attitudes towards ones career, but then the mood becomes much darker and he ends being cynical about his family, seeing them as wishing his death to come sooner so they can be free of the burden of caring for him. The Kreutzer Sonata is a very powerful story about the breakdown of a marriage, with some very advanced for the time (1889) views on how marriages evolve and how couples can grow to take each other for granted and eventually become actively hostile without wanting to grow apart. Tolstoy's postscript, published following the banning of the story in Russia and elsewhere, and concerning the moral superiority of celibacy, somewhat detracts from the dramatic impact of the ending, though. The Devil is a powerful tale about how a nobleman's passion for the object of a former fling with a peasant wife destroys his seemingly happy marriage through obsession. There are two endings, the published one where he kills himself and the alternative one where he kills the object of his obsession. An excellent collection, some of the best Russian literature of its type.
  • (5/5)
    A great collection from a master prose stylist. These stories are part of why I love to read.
  • (4/5)
    this is a book i tried to read many years ago...i only made it halfway through the first story ("Family Happiness") before i quit and decided i hated it...so i just gave it another chance and made it through this time...which was a good thing, i guess...i still didn't like "Family Happiness" but the other three stories ("The Death and Ivan Ilych," "The Kreutzer Sonata," and "Master and Man") were pretty good...i gave it 3.5 stars, and if it weren't for the one story dragging it down i might've given it 4 stars...
  • (3/5)
    Not a book to read if you are depressed but a powerful story of a man's evaluation of his life as he lies dying.
  • (4/5)
    A short story about life and death and the mental suffering that results at the end of a life lived without meaning. For a book written in the 1800's, I found this to be still relevant today. It is the very common story of a man who throws himself into his work when he finds himself dissatisfied with his home life. His focus becomes about upward mobility but as he reflects at the end of his life "It is as if I had been going downhill while I imagined I was going up." A very short read, if you haven't read this classic yet it is worth the day to do it.
  • (3/5)
    There are obviously a lot of books called 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories.' The volume I read had Ivan, The Cossacks, and Happily Ever After (aka Family Happiness.) There's not too much to say- it seems that if you've read any Tolstoy, you know the general thrust; depressing, but with at least apparently uplifting endings in which characters come to do and feel the right thing. DII and Cossacks are both great (four stars each), but if I was going to read one, it'd be the Cossacks. HEA is pretty dull (two stars), although important for Tolstoy's biography according to the introduction. So if you care about that sort of thing, you'll get something out of it.
    As a side note, the translation is a little strange (minus one star). Translation-ese is rarely good prose, but it can be (e.g., the older translations of Proust). Edmonds seems to have gone for transparency here, with no concern for the language. Which is fine, except that having read Pevear & Volokhonsky's War and Peace, I know that it can be done better. So you should read the Cossacks, but maybe in a different translation.

    In sum: 4 4 3 - 1 = 10. 10/3 = roughly three.
  • (4/5)
    This particular volume contains three of Tolstoy’s shorter works: The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Happy Ever After, and The Cossacks. A common theme that I found within them was a growing dissatisfaction by the protagonist with living according to the norms of their particular culture. At some point the central character in each story awakened to the fact that they were living a life that, while full of material goods, was empty morally and/or spiritually. The way in which this realization was addressed differed in each story, and each of the protagonists found themselves at a destination that was unique when compared to the others. And while I found this particular theme “connecting” the stories, they were each very unique stories in and of themselves. I found The Death of Ivan Ilyich to be enthralling from start to finish. As a teaser to encourage you to read the story I’ll share the mindset of Ilyich’s wife after he dies. She laments that his mournful wailing over the final three days of his life was virtually unbearable for her to endure, without displaying even the least amount of compassion for the pain her husband was suffering through. I have not read Tolstoy much, nor for a long time, but taking in this easy-to-read collection is spurring me on to dig into his work anew.
  • (5/5)
    Reading this short novel reminded me of some of the existentialist works that I have read and studied over the years. Tolstoy's meditation on the death of an everyman, a bureaucrat whose life was anything but uncommon. Effortlessly, Tolstoy examines life’s shallow exteriors as well as its inner workings. And in the quotidian details of a life we see pageant of folly. Only slowly does wisdom emerge not like a dull moral lesson, but heavy, as if from a downpour, with all the weight, shine and freshness of real life. We see, vividly, Ivan Ilych’s errors until one day we realize that someone is looking at us as if we were a character in The Death of Ivan Ilych. This is a small book with a large impact on the reader. It is one that has not lost its power more than a century after its first appearance. In addition to The Death of Ivan Ilych this volume also includes the stories: The Kreutzer Sonata, Hadji Murad, and Family Happiness.
  • (4/5)
    Includes Family Happiness, The Death of Ivan Illych, The Kreutzer Sonata, and Master and Man. Together they present a soulful look at 19th century Russia and explore the ideas of love, sacrifice, redemption and eudaimonia.