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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 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."


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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 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."

30 review for The Death of Ivan Ilyich and other Stories, with eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    brian

    you're all excited about someone new only to discover that the beatles are their all-time favorite band. the most popular pop/rock band of all time, wildly innovative, probably wrote more great songs than any other band... but your all-time favorite band? dullsville. which is why i'm hesitant to call out tolstoy as my favorite writer. but he just might be. at the very least he's sitting at the (head of the?) table with genet borges orwell and the other usual suspects. i know it because when i pop you're all excited about someone new only to discover that the beatles are their all-time favorite band. the most popular pop/rock band of all time, wildly innovative, probably wrote more great songs than any other band... but your all-time favorite band? dullsville. which is why i'm hesitant to call out tolstoy as my favorite writer. but he just might be. at the very least he's sitting at the (head of the?) table with genet borges orwell and the other usual suspects. i know it because when i popped into the store and saw this gorgeous new hardback of short stories by badass translators pevear & volokhonsky, well, it took all i had not to rub up against it in the store -- waited till i got in the car and dry-humped the shit outta this beautiful bitch. greatest hits of stories in here: ivan ilyich (love me do)? terrific if slightly overrated. the kreutzer sonata (happiness is a warm gun)? fucking great! master and man (blackbird)? i cry. the devil (i'm a loser)? amazing! hadji murat (a day in the life)? fucking genius! trust me, booknerds.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sumati

    The story of Ivan Ilyich was like wine — it goes down smoothly, but leaves a biting, succulent and lasting impression. The book is a deep and moving scrutiny of loss and absolution, in which the writer explores the dichotomy between the artificial and the authentic life. This book is probably the best account of the physiological and psychological panic, a man feels when so close to his own death. “Ivan Ilych's life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.” Ivan Ilyich The story of Ivan Ilyich was like wine — it goes down smoothly, but leaves a biting, succulent and lasting impression. The book is a deep and moving scrutiny of loss and absolution, in which the writer explores the dichotomy between the artificial and the authentic life. This book is probably the best account of the physiological and psychological panic, a man feels when so close to his own death. “Ivan Ilych's life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.” Ivan Ilyich is the story of a respected, gregarious and a healthy middle aged court justice who suddenly sickens and dies. He leaves behind a wife (a woman Ivan disliked), two grown up children, and a few startled friends/acquaintances whose reaction to his death range from better-him-than-me to how-will-this-affect-my-career-prospects. The novella examines the reactions of the wife, children and friends at Ivan’s funeral, but the bulk of the story summarizes Ivan’s life and his battle with death. 'I'll probably get Shtabel's or Vinnikov's job now,' thought Fyodor Vasilyevich." also "'I'll have to request a transfer from Kaluga for my brother-in-law now,' thought Pyotr Ivanovich.’the wife will be delighted. And now she won't be able to say I've never done anything for my relatives.'" At the beginning of the book, Ivan’s death is announced,the effects of which are clearly seen amongst the colleagues. Who are Fyodor Vasilyevich and Pyotr Ivanovich? Well, they are you and I. Individuals who react to death in selfish, materialistic, and fearful ways. Can it be that I have not lived as one ought?" suddenly came into his head. "But how not so, when I've done everything as it should be done?” In the eyes of the world, Ivan Ilyich was the epitome of success but in his own eyes he was a failure. Ilyich realizes that his entire hunt to befit himself into the shades of the society left him with absolutely no knowledge for coming to terms with death. Ultimately, the values of society left Ilyich with nothing of any true worth, with no idea of what his life should be. The modern society compels us to gloss over the reality of death. Society’s illusory and ludicrous norms force us to become strangers from life and death as well. “The very fact of the death of someone close to them aroused in all who heard about it, as always, a feeling of delight that he had died and they hadn't.” The brilliance of the book reflects when it brings light upon the dehumanizing aspects of our society. The doctor’s indifference towards the dying Ivan is nothing different than the insensitivity with which Ilyich treated the many that passed through his court during his career as a judge. Here, Tolstoy reminds us about the inability to recognize that other people’s lives are as significant as our own, is society’s greatest ill. “And suddenly, it became clear to me that all this should not exist. Not only that it should not exist, but that it does not exist, and if this does not exist, then there is no death or fear, and the former rending in me is no more, and I am no longer afraid of anything. Here the light shown fully upon me, and I became what I am.” At the very end Ilyich glimpses the joy of an authentic life and warns the reader of the dangers of living an unawakened life. Ivan’s last breath hopes that we can experience more than just a brief minute of this joy. Therefore, live fully! Life is itself a memento mori and death is the proof reminding us that only by accepting our death can we hope to live an authentic life. According to Tolstoy, we must go against the grain and contemplate what the value of our lives can be when they will eventually end in death, if we are to find any meaning in a society that has taken so much of it away from us.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amirsaman

    (این ریویو را من برای درس اخلاق پزشکی مینویسم و بنابراین از دوستان گودریدزی بخاطر اظهار فضلهای موجود در آن عذرخواهی میکنم!) داستان تولستوی ماندگار است چون دربارهی نقصان علم پزشکی در قرن نوزدهم روسیه نیست (که از درمان یک آپاندیس عاجز بودند و دارویی برای هپاتیت نداشتند). و نیز دربارهی چگونگی رنج کشیدن یک بیمار در حال مرگ نیست. داستان تولستوی از انسانی سخن میگوید که خواهان یافتن معنا برای دردش است. و پاسخ؟ هیچ معنایی در کار نیست! در نیمهی اول داستان، تولستوی با طنزی گزنده سبک زندگی بورژوایی قرن نوزدهم (این ریویو را من برای درس اخلاق پزشکی می‌نویسم و بنابراین از دوستان گودریدزی بخاطر اظهار فضل‌های موجود در آن عذرخواهی می‌کنم!) داستان تولستوی ماندگار است چون درباره‌ی نقصان علم پزشکی در قرن نوزدهم روسیه نیست (که از درمان یک آپاندیس عاجز بودند‌‌ و دارویی برای هپاتیت نداشتند). و نیز درباره‌ی چگونگی رنج کشیدن یک بیمار در حال مرگ نیست. داستان تولستوی از انسانی سخن می‌گوید که خواهان یافتن معنا برای دردش است‌. و پاسخ؟ هیچ معنایی در کار نیست! در نیمه‌ی اول داستان، تولستوی با طنزی گزنده سبک زندگی بورژوایی قرن نوزدهمی را به سخره می‌گیرد؛ آن انتظار برای ترفیع و موقعیت اجتماعی، آن دوستی‌های کاذب، این مبنا بودن ثروت برای تعیین خوشی و غم، ازدواج‌های بی‌عشق و طبقاتی، تئاتر رفتن‌ها ‌و مهمانی‌های از سر پز، و شغل‌هایی که برای فرار از تنهایی انتخاب می‌شوند. و شاید همین --به تعبیر من-- «زندگی نااصیل» است که در روزهای قبل از مرگ، ایوان ایلیچ را به این نتیجه می‌رساند که زندگی بی‌حاصلی داشته. برای ایوان ایلیچ، قضیهْ بیماری کبدی نیست، بلکه خود مرگ است‌. (و برخلاف تفسیرات معمول این داستان، بنظرم ایوان ایلیچ از همان ابتدا مرگ را می‌پذیرد و کشاکش انکار روانکاوانه‌ای در کار نیست.) در مقابل، برای دکترها هم، «انسان بودگی» ایوان ایلیچ مهم نیست، بلکه خود بیماری اصل است (تشخیص بین آپاندیس و هپاتایتیسْ دغدغه‌ی ذهن پزشکان است و نه زندگی ایوان ایلیچ). و اما نکته‌ای که داستان تولستوی بسیار بر آن تاکید می‌گذارد، مفهوم تنهایی دم مرگ است. تولستوی، برخلاف نوربرت الیاس، تنهایی دم مرگ را محدود به بعد فیزیکی صرف نمی‌کند؛ بلکه می‌گوید فرد محتضر نیازمند همدم است. و آن هم نه همدمی‌کردنی مصنوعی (مثل تیم درمان یا خانواده‌ی وی)، بلکه کسی که از سر حقیقت با او مواجه شود: «بله تو داری می‌میری، و مهم نیست سال‌ها نوکرت بودم، بلکه حالا من بدنی سالم دارم و همین مرا برتر از تو قرار می‌دهد.» و ارتباط با همین بدن‌های سالم راستگو است که حس زندگی را در ایوان ایلیچ زنده نگه می‌دارد. در عوض، زندگان، برای فراموش کردن ترس از مرگ، آرزوی خلاصی از بدن ناقص همسر/پدر/همکار را دارند (که یادآور اضمحلال قریب‌الوقوع خودشان است). بعد از ده سال به تولستوی برگشتم؛ آن هم با ترجمه‌ی کاظم انصاری که زحمت نسخه‌ی جنگ و صلح مرا هم او کشیده بود. پرسپکتیو سوم شخصی که بر ذهن همه‌ی اشخاص داستان احاطه دارد. گاهی جزییات بسیار کوچکی را تعریف می‌کند و گاهی --بنابر اتوریته‌ی خودش-- یک واقعه‌ی ظاهرا مهم را تنها با یک فعل توصیف می‌کند و تمام. به عبارتی در داستان روسی، راوی حرفی برای گفتن دارد و همین باعث می‌شود نکاتی از قصه را تعریف کند که مناسب پیام مدنظرش است.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    What a great collection of Tolstoy’s shorter fiction. Here are my star ratings for each story/novella: The prisoner of the Caucasus - 5 The diary of a madman - 3.5 The death of Ivan Ilyich - 5 The Kreutzer sonata - 5 The devil - 4 Master and man - 4.5 Father Sergius - 5 After the ball - 3.5 The forged coupon - 3 Alyosha the pot - 3 Hadji Murat - 5 I thought Father Sergius was the best, followed closely by Hadji Murat and Ivan Ilyich.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Viv JM

    My edition of “The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories” was the Vintage book, translated by Pevear and Volhokonsky. It contains the following stories: The Death of Ivan Ilych The Prisoner of the Caucasus The Diary of a Madman The Kreutzer Sonata The Devil Master and Man Father Sergius After the Ball The Forged Coupon Alyosha the Pot Hadji Murat (those that are underlined, I have reviewed separately – follow the link for the review) There are some definite repeated themes - namely sex, death and religious r My edition of “The Death of Ivan Ilych and Other Stories” was the Vintage book, translated by Pevear and Volhokonsky. It contains the following stories: The Death of Ivan Ilych The Prisoner of the Caucasus The Diary of a Madman The Kreutzer Sonata The Devil Master and Man Father Sergius After the Ball The Forged Coupon Alyosha the Pot Hadji Murat (those that are underlined, I have reviewed separately – follow the link for the review) There are some definite repeated themes - namely sex, death and religious redemption. Mostly, the first leads to the second or the third! As with any collection of stories, there are some I like more than others. I think my favourites would be “Master and Man” and “The Forged Coupon”. I found “Hadji Murat” a bit of a slog.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    I have something to say, which, for lovers of literature, might be borderline blasphemous. I read Tolstoy, and…and… He’s okay. Just okay. He didn’t rock my world. He didn’t change my life. His prose is good, but not magnificent; his characters are relatable, but not unforgettable; his stories are interesting, but not quite compelling. I didn’t come away from these stories convinced, as so many are, that Tolstoy is the greatest writer who ever lived. In fact, of the four great Russian writers I re I have something to say, which, for lovers of literature, might be borderline blasphemous. I read Tolstoy, and…and… He’s okay. Just okay. He didn’t rock my world. He didn’t change my life. His prose is good, but not magnificent; his characters are relatable, but not unforgettable; his stories are interesting, but not quite compelling. I didn’t come away from these stories convinced, as so many are, that Tolstoy is the greatest writer who ever lived. In fact, of the four great Russian writers I recall having read—Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, and Lermontov—I would put Tolstoy in third place, in front of Turgenev, with Lermontov marginally better than him and Dostoyevsky leagues ahead of anyone else. Granted, I am a Dostoyevsky fanboy, and I haven’t read Tolstoy’s two great novels: Anna Karenina and War and Peace. Maybe if I read either of those works, my tune would change dramatically, and I’d be embarrassed for having written this review. Maybe I’m just a Philistine. But I’m a Philistine who calls them like he sees them. There’s an interesting variety to the stories in my edition. There are war stories, like “The Prisoner of the Caucasus” and “Hadji Murat”; there are meditations on death—the final frontier of the soul’s journey—and our struggle to find peace and redemption in the face of it, in “The Diary of a Madman” and “The Death of Ivan Ilyich”; there’s an extensive diatribe against…erm…sex(?) masquerading as a novella in “The Kreutzer Sonata”; and there’s a little common-man hagiography called “Alyosha the Pot”, which, despite being only a few pages long, I found to be the most evocative work in the collection. I’m sorry, Tolstoyists. Coke is better than Pepsi, Tupac is better than Biggie, and Dostoyevsky is better than Tolstoy. Westside!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ian D

    Ο διάβολος = 5* Πολικούσκα = 4* Πατήρ Σέργιος = 3.5* Οικογενειακή ευτυχία = 4* O θάνατος του Ιβάν Ίλιτς = 4.5* M.O. = 4.2 Συμπέρασμα: Ο Tolstoy είναι τόσο μεγάλος συγγραφέας όσο μας έχουν πει. Ακόμα και σ' αυτή τη συλλογή διηγημάτων, όπου η έκταση δεν επαρκεί για να ξεδιπλώσει τη συγγραφική του ιδιοφυία, φαίνονται ξεκάθαρα τα στοιχεία που θα αγαπήσουμε σε μεταγενέστερα ή προηγούμενα έργα του. Η απεικόνιση της ανθρώπινης αδυναμίας, είτε αυτή εκφράζεται ως σαρκικό πάθος, ως εθισμός, ως αναζήτηση συγκινή Ο διάβολος = 5* Πολικούσκα = 4* Πατήρ Σέργιος = 3.5* Οικογενειακή ευτυχία = 4* O θάνατος του Ιβάν Ίλιτς = 4.5* M.O. = 4.2 Συμπέρασμα: Ο Tolstoy είναι τόσο μεγάλος συγγραφέας όσο μας έχουν πει. Ακόμα και σ' αυτή τη συλλογή διηγημάτων, όπου η έκταση δεν επαρκεί για να ξεδιπλώσει τη συγγραφική του ιδιοφυία, φαίνονται ξεκάθαρα τα στοιχεία που θα αγαπήσουμε σε μεταγενέστερα ή προηγούμενα έργα του. Η απεικόνιση της ανθρώπινης αδυναμίας, είτε αυτή εκφράζεται ως σαρκικό πάθος, ως εθισμός, ως αναζήτηση συγκινήσεων, ειτε ως φόβος μπροστά στο θάνατο. Ο θάνατος. Τιμωρός αλλά και λυτρωτής. Για κάποιους επιλογή, για κάποιους αδικία. Κι όλα αυτά υπό την υπέροχη πένα του Ρώσου κλασικού που με κάνουν να ντρέπομαι, σχεδόν, που έφτασα σε τέτοια ηλικία για να πιάσω Tolstoy στα χέρια μου. Γιατί αυτό που δε μας είπαν είναι το πόσο προσιτή και ρέουσα είναι η γραφή του Lev Nikolayevich. Θα επανορθώσω.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nazanin

    خب، روی جلد کتاب نوشته شاهکارهای کوتاه (البته اگر "شاهکارک "هم میبود چندان جفایی نه در حق کتاب و نه در حق تولستوی نشده بود ) ابتدا که سونات کرویتسر رو خوندم به نظرم خیلی جالب اومد و بعد که مرگ ایوان ایلیچ تمام شد نظرم نسبت به داستان اول تقویت شد اما با خوندن "بابا سرگئی" هم سونات و هم مرگ ایوان ایلیچ با یک فاصله زیاد بعد از این داستان قرار گرفتند بابا سرگئی را تا حدی می توان شیخ صنعانِ عطار قلمداد نمود و از نگاهی دیگر و بدون هیچ گونه شعاردادن، ریا و کبر و نخوت را مانع رهایش درونی بیان می کند :در مق خب، روی جلد کتاب نوشته شاهکارهای کوتاه (البته اگر "شاهکارک "هم میبود چندان جفایی نه در حق کتاب و نه در حق تولستوی نشده بود ) ابتدا که سونات کرویتسر رو خوندم به نظرم خیلی جالب اومد و بعد که مرگ‌ ایوان ایلیچ تمام شد نظرم نسبت به داستان اول تقویت شد اما با خوندن "بابا سرگئی" هم سونات و هم مرگ ایوان ایلیچ با یک فاصله زیاد بعد از این داستان قرار گرفتند بابا سرگئی را تا حدی می توان شیخ صنعانِ عطار قلمداد نمود و از نگاهی دیگر و بدون هیچ گونه شعاردادن، ریا و کبر و نخوت را مانع رهایش درونی بیان می کند :در مقدمه اثر چنین آمده انسانی که در میان دو تلاش غیر طبیعی و یا به تعبیر صادقانه، طبیعی ترین تلاش ها! خرد و خمیر می شود " شاید بتوان خیلی خلاصه " خام بدم پخته شدم سوختم را در مورد کاساتسکی یا همان سرگئی عنوان نمود یک فرمانده گارد جاه طلب و موفق که در اثر یک اتفاق ناگهان مسیر زندگی اش به کلی متحول می شود و در این مسیر به تدریج نسبت به درون خویش آگاهی می یابد یک آگاهی هولناک "...هرچه بیشتر تسلیم این شیوه زندگی می شد احساس می کرد که چگونه تدریجا، حقیقت باطنی به ریا و ظاهرسازی مبدل میگردد و چگونه چشمه آب حیات خشک می شود و رفته رفته کارهایی را که انجام می دهد بیشتر به خاطر مردم انجام می دهد تا به خاطر خدا این سوالی که از آنچه انجام می دهد چه مقدارش برای خداوند و چه مقدارش برای مردم است، پیوسته رنجش می داد و هرگز نه تنها نمی توانست بلکه جرئت نداشت به آن جواب بدهد" :و بعد با خود می گوید " من به بهانه خداپرستی برای مردم زندگی می کردم آیا کمترین آرزوی صادقانه برای عبادت خدا در دل من وجود داشته است؟ برای کسانی که مانند من زندگی کرده اند خدایی وجود ندارد، باید به جست و جوی خدا بردم..." در مجموع کتاب خوبی بود و از ترجمه بسیار روان و شیوایی هم برخودار بود سه داستان خوب از یکی از بزرگترین داستان نویسان همیشه تاریخ با جملات و پیامهای قابل اعتنا آن هم با ترجمه ای دلنشین اگرچه داستان دوم را به اندازه دو اثر دیگر از نظر محتوایی دوست نداشتم (سلیقه ای) اما در کل کتابی بود که به نظرم حتما و حتما ارزش خواندن را داشت

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Ivan Ilych’s life revolved around his career; as a high court judge he takes his job very seriously. However after he falls off a ladder, he soon discovers that he is going to die. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a novella that deals with the meaning of life in the face of death. A masterpiece for Leo Tolstoy written after his religious conversion in the late 1870s. Something that was fascinating about The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the drastic change in writing style when comparing it to Anna Karenina Ivan Ilych’s life revolved around his career; as a high court judge he takes his job very seriously. However after he falls off a ladder, he soon discovers that he is going to die. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a novella that deals with the meaning of life in the face of death. A masterpiece for Leo Tolstoy written after his religious conversion in the late 1870s. Something that was fascinating about The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the drastic change in writing style when comparing it to Anna Karenina and War and Peace. I am not just referring to the length, but that does play a big part. I have read somewhere that Tolstoy intentionally made Anna Karenina and War and Peace so long because he wanted to replicate life and the journey the characters face. Allowing the reader to experience every decision and moral dilemma that the character is facing, exploring the growth or evolution of each and every person within the novels. The Death of Ivan Ilyich takes a more focused approach, dealing with major questions revolving around the meaning of life, death and spirituality. Leo Tolstoy had a major conversion in the late 1870s and the questions in this novel were the questions he was asking himself. Whether or not Ivan Ilyich found the answers he was looking for is up to the reader but it is believed that Leo Tolstoy was still looking for the same answers well after finishing this novella. There is a lot of pain and torment that appears in this book, which reflects the authors search for answers and that is what really stood out for me. Not only was I reading a spiritual/existential struggle of the protagonist but Tolstoy’s own feeling really came out within the pages. This is what makes this a masterpiece that explores the tortured artist in great detail. I don’t want to say much more, this is the type of book people have to read and make their own mind up about the themes presented, but it is worth reading. This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Fantastic collection of stories, including The Death of Ivan Ilyich, The Kreutzer Sonata, and Hadji Murat among others. Generally, I find it hard to rate a single-author short-story collection five stars because either the quality varies, or too many of the stories sound similar. But with this collection, there are no duds, and there is also a wide variation in the types of stories. Highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    leynes

    This is a clear case of It's not you, it's me! I simply wasn't ready for this. When I couldn't participate in the War and Peace-readalong due to my busy schedule, I decided to compensate by reading a short story collection by Tolstoy instead. I thought it would be quick and fun. I couldn't have been more wrong. It turns out that Tolstoy is much more philosophical and political than I expected, and since I have no knowledge whatsover on Russian history and culture, it was extremely hard for me to This is a clear case of It's not you, it's me! I simply wasn't ready for this. When I couldn't participate in the War and Peace-readalong due to my busy schedule, I decided to compensate by reading a short story collection by Tolstoy instead. I thought it would be quick and fun. I couldn't have been more wrong. It turns out that Tolstoy is much more philosophical and political than I expected, and since I have no knowledge whatsover on Russian history and culture, it was extremely hard for me to follow along. On a very subjective note, I have to say that I found the stories (except for The Forged Coupon) extremely boring and drawn-out. The characters weren't memorable and I didn't connect to any of them. I really had to force myself to keep on turning the pages. But on a more objective note, after having done more research on each short story and the author himself (turns out Tolstoy almost got murdered by a bear once... like whuaat?), I understand their core message a lot better, and thus appreciate the collection as a whole a lot more. Tolstoy in his later years was famously a man with a mission. From the 1880s he sought more directly to understand the turmoil of contemporary Russia which escalated after the assassination of Alexander II in 1881 and in his lifetime culminated in the Revolution of 1905. No solutions, Tolstoy felt, could be found either for the problems individuals or society faced without due consideration of issues about property and ownership, the meaning of spiritual enlightement, the formulation of ethical ideals, and identifying sources of goodness and evil. Tolstoy's later works of fiction, such as the stories collected here, reflect sustained soul-searching about the value of literature. The concern of how people live only intensified as his own spiritual crises in the late 1860s and 1870s brought a life-changing sense of his own mortality. Having lived as a young man for himself, and then been the family man on his country estate, Tolstoy had begun to lvie for others and for God. He convinced himself that social activism and the promotion of what he called 'a good life' were his true vocation. The first short story in this collection, The Two Old Men, deals with the ethics of character. In Tolstoy's fiction man and woman are social animals, subject to the pressures of class, the village, the family unit, and peer group. Through his virtually daily interaction with peasants at his school, on the estate, and in his restless rambling about the countryside, Tolstoy collected dozens of anectodes and tales that in his view distilled the moral essence of the Russian peasantry. The Two Old Men emanates from that world, situating the timelessness of Christian pilgrimage within the modern world of steamships and itineraries. At the centre of the story are two peasant heroes, one rich and one poor, whose pilgrimage provides the horizontal structure for the episodes they experience. One of them, in his exemplary selflessness, acquires the reputation of a saint, while the other finely balances material and spiritual concerns. Both are treated affectionately by Tolstoy and reflect his ideal of Christian humanism. The second story, How Much Land Does a Man Need?, deals with capitalism and the evils of property. Tolstoy repeatedly denounced money as an evil when coveted for itself. Tolstoy's concern regarding the dangers of property-ownership stem from his belief that once you own property you are obliged to defend it, and once the need arises for defence violence must follow. Like other stories in this volume, this one pits individual determination against accident. The story considers the paradox that the more one strives after material security, the greater the risk that everything will be forfeited. The story is attuned to the psychological stress of ownership when an individual negotiates between an old idea of sufficency and a seductive image of wealth. Harmony both for the individual and society could be achieved if and only if individuals achieved an inner state of control over their wants. Impulses to the good and bad might be temporarily held in check, but human nature put human beings at the mercy of combinations of personality and circumstance that could wreck nouble intentions. The next two stories, The Forged Coupon and Master and Workman, deal with questions of justice and how causality and motivation can determine one's actions. In Tolstoy's later works, no heroes make any great claims for controlling events, and the focus of the narrator is on seeing events as they unfold, sometimes bewilderingly. One key question for Tolstoy is whether randomness leads anywhere, whether the destination might be accidental and still have moral significance. The Forged Coupon takes up the problem of unintended consequences and illustrates the shift in emphasis from agency to accident, and to seeing the whole picture in terms of the butterfly effect, where distant rather than proximate causes contribute to a sequence. Part 1 is structured as a chain of seemingly unrelated events that all derive from a single mishap at the beginning. Or do they? The story could be driven by coincidence that is unfortunate but fatal. In Master and Workman Tolstoy reveals the fluidity of identity as a set of impulses and responses that are fixed in the timelessness of the present as lived through. A landowner and servant set out on a short jounrey by sled. They lose their way briefly during a sudden snowstorm, and subsequently regain the right path only to be led fatally off course by recurring bad weather. (The blizzard has served Russian writers well to represent overwhelming force, whether elemental nature, fate, or an oppressive state.) At one level, this is a tale of two individuals whose class relations, socio-economic status, and expectations determine their response to the storm and to their fate, controlled to some unknowable degree by luck. And yet at the same time, in its use of an elemental setting the story also has the universal quality of a fable whose precise lesson can be suggested but not entirely fixed. In the last two stories, Alyosha Pot and The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Tolstoy processes his struggle to square the circle of life and death, of meaning and erasure. Does death necessarily make life senseless? Tolstoy, who often assumed extreme positions before arguing his way back to a more nuanced view, clearly found the conclusion that 'there is nothing worse than life' intuitively and intellectually unacceptable. The need to go out and meet and make life, rather than allow life to come to one passively, defined his philosophy. In Alyosha Pot Tolstoy uses his art to capture the thoughts and feelings of the meekest of men, a hero who is only seemingly simple but incarnates an ideal of wise resignation and selfless love. Alyosha's emotional intelligence, however, is beyond the reach of his masters who, coarse and unsympathetic, refuse him the right to marry. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is an unflinching depiction of social hypocrisy. Yet Tolstoy uses this tale also to raise the possibility that Ivan Ilyich's resignation to death also occasions a spiritual awakening. The light he sees instead of death is limitless and indefinable. This collection is packed with a lot of brilliant ideas and so much food for thought that I will take my time to properly digest them. Whilst the stories were no particular joy to read and definitely too fastidious for me, I still had a lot of fun researching them and learning a bit more about Tolstoy himself.

  12. 4 out of 5

    aljouharah altheeyb

    وعظي ديني. لكن لتولستوي اسلوب جاذب يمنعك من نسيان التفاصيل على كثرتها

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fatima Al-Quwaie

    ضمن كتاب مصرع إيفان إيليتش وقصص أخرى (دار الجمل، ترجمة سامر كرّوم). مختارات تضيء على الجانب المؤمن في كتابة تولستوي، الذي يضخّم العلاقة الجدلية بين الإنسان وفحوى وجوده، مشخصناً بصورة ذكية وجهة نظره، عبر جعل أبطال قصصه كائنات متأزمة وإنجيلية في آن، تخضع للقدر مستسلمة للفناء، جاهزة للمثول أمام البارئ. في حكاية إيليتش هناك بيئة أدبية شيّدها تولستوي لتحريك الأسئلة الفلسفية والمتقاسمة في كل الأجيال حول الموت. تجارب كالألم والموت لا تعاش ولا تُجس إلا فردياً رغم أنها تؤلف المصير الجماعي للبشر. لكن من خل ضمن كتاب مصرع إيفان إيليتش وقصص أخرى (دار الجمل، ترجمة سامر كرّوم). مختارات تضيء على الجانب المؤمن في كتابة تولستوي، الذي يضخّم العلاقة الجدلية بين الإنسان وفحوى وجوده، مشخصناً بصورة ذكية وجهة نظره، عبر جعل أبطال قصصه كائنات متأزمة وإنجيلية في آن، تخضع للقدر مستسلمة للفناء، جاهزة للمثول أمام البارئ. في حكاية إيليتش هناك بيئة أدبية شيّدها تولستوي لتحريك الأسئلة الفلسفية والمتقاسمة في كل الأجيال حول الموت. تجارب كالألم والموت لا تعاش ولا تُجس إلا فردياً رغم أنها تؤلف المصير الجماعي للبشر. لكن من خلال القصة يظهر جلياً أن الناس لا يريدون أن يروا الموت، لا يريدون أن يكونوا جزءاً من تجربة رجل يحتضر كـ إيليتش. كأن لا وقت لديهم لذلك. يسابقون الحياة، ويجاهرون بذلك حول امرئ يسابق الموت وحيداً. لعل مفتاح عبقرية الروائي الروسي الفذ ليو تولستوي أنه كان مزيجاً مدهشاً بين المفكر والفنان، لديه ما يقول من تأملات وأفكار، ولديه أسئلة تشغله وتؤرقه، ولكنه يعرف كيف يطرح ذلك بفن، ويدرك أن أفضل ما يفعله لخدمة فكرته، أن يُخلص أضعافاً مضاعفة للفن الذي يكتبه.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maha

    و ما الحياة الدنيا الا متاع الغرور. أليس أكثرنا ايفان ايليتش؟ (مصرع ايفان ايليتش)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The stories in this collection are: Family Happiness (1859) The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886) The Kreutzer Sonata (1889) Master and Man (1895)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Husain Ismaeel

    :يحتوي هذا الكتاب على 6 روايات للعظيم ليو تولستوي مصرع إيفان إيليتش يمهل ولا يهمل متى وجد الحب فثم وجه الله الشيطان في اعقاب الحفلة الراقصة الأب سيرغيه مصرع إيفان إيليتش: الألم..مصارعة الألم..يوميات الألم والمعاناة رواية عن يوميات الألم والمعاناة لمريض كان عزيزا فأصبح ذليلا..كان قاضيا محترما مهابا مسيطرا نافذا آمرا ناهيا وإذا هو في وضع لا يستطيع حتى قضاء حاجته بنفسه..تولستوي يصف نفاق العائلة اللامبالية به..زوجته التي تضع اللوم على زوجها حتى في مرضه..في ألمه..استغرق تولستوي في وصف المعاناة اليومية كثيرا :يحتوي هذا الكتاب على 6 روايات للعظيم ليو تولستوي مصرع إيفان إيليتش يمهل ولا يهمل متى وجد الحب فثم وجه الله الشيطان في اعقاب الحفلة الراقصة الأب سيرغيه مصرع إيفان إيليتش: الألم..مصارعة الألم..يوميات الألم والمعاناة رواية عن يوميات الألم والمعاناة لمريض كان عزيزا فأصبح ذليلا..كان قاضيا محترما مهابا مسيطرا نافذا آمرا ناهيا وإذا هو في وضع لا يستطيع حتى قضاء حاجته بنفسه..تولستوي يصف نفاق العائلة اللامبالية به..زوجته التي تضع اللوم على زوجها حتى في مرضه..في ألمه..استغرق تولستوي في وصف المعاناة اليومية كثيرا وبتكرار قد يكون مملا حينا ومزعجا حينا آخر قساوة الآخرين..الآخرين الذين أعطيتهم أنت حياتك ليعيشوا ويكبروا ويستمتعوا فإذا بهم هم قساة غلاظ القلب في شدة مرضك وحاجتك لهم..تولستوي يطرق أمرا مهما ومزعجا وهو ذاك السؤال المتكبر للرب حين المرض والفقر والحاجة:لماذا أنا؟؟ ما الذي فعلته انا كي تعاقبني هكذا؟ما السبب؟..لكنه سيصف لحظات الموت على انها نور جميل :إذا هذا هو؟..يالهذه النعمة حين يأتي الموت الذي نخافه ونترقبه ونرفضه..حين يأتي:نسأل أين هو؟ هو نور جميل براق أخاذ..لا ألم لا معاناة لن تحصل على هذا النور إذا لم تكن نورا لغيرك في حياتك ولو مرة واحدة أما رواية الاب سيرغيه فتحتاج مني وقفة مطولة لاحقا..رائعة جدا وتحتاج للرائع من الحديث المطول..

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sachin Piya

    "Death of Ivan Ilych" is one of the best short stories I have ever read. In only about 100 pages, Tolstoy describes the facing of death by Ivan Ilych, who basically has lived as any other ordinary man. The story shows how once joyous and happy moments can seem worthless and fruitless moments when one is staring at death. Through this story, Tolstoy makes us look back to our life and look for anything extraordinary we have done. He makes us wonder whether doing everything that we think we "ought "Death of Ivan Ilych" is one of the best short stories I have ever read. In only about 100 pages, Tolstoy describes the facing of death by Ivan Ilych, who basically has lived as any other ordinary man. The story shows how once joyous and happy moments can seem worthless and fruitless moments when one is staring at death. Through this story, Tolstoy makes us look back to our life and look for anything extraordinary we have done. He makes us wonder whether doing everything that we think we "ought to do" is enough to make us be at peace at death bed. This short book of Tolstoy is a must read and I recommend it to everybody.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    This contains 4 of Tolstoy's short stories, although all four are relatively long tales. I found them all a bit slow for my tastes but there is some very good stuff here that hits pretty hard. The first story is "Family Happiness," about a love affair developing between a young woman just coming of age and a considerably older man. It details the build up of passion in the relationship that then matures into a more long-term emotional bond. I found it quite good, although longer than necessary. This contains 4 of Tolstoy's short stories, although all four are relatively long tales. I found them all a bit slow for my tastes but there is some very good stuff here that hits pretty hard. The first story is "Family Happiness," about a love affair developing between a young woman just coming of age and a considerably older man. It details the build up of passion in the relationship that then matures into a more long-term emotional bond. I found it quite good, although longer than necessary. Then we have "The Death of Ivan Ilych," the best story I've read by Tolstoy, and one that wrings the last measure of emotion out of the reader as Ivan Ilych lies dying. A very good story. Next we have "The Kreutzer Sonata," a kind of treatise on love. Despite having the story told second hand rather than being shown, I found the tale about a man's developing jealousy and the murder of his wife to be compellilng. The last tale here is "Master and Man," which was--in my opinion--definitely second rate and not up to the quality of the other three. A rich man who is concerned only with accruing more wealth forces one of his workers to take him out in a blizzard so that he can make a business deal. They get lost in the snow twice and find their way to a village, but rather than take the hint the man heads out again and the expected happens. They get completely lost and must try to survive the night in freezing conditions. I felt sorry for the worker and the horse pulling their buggy but absolutely no sympathy for the rich man and could only hope that he would die as quickly as possible.

  19. 5 out of 5

    د. حمدان

    موت إيفان إيلييتش ليو تولستوي مجموعة من القصص القصيرة.. وهي أول مجموعة قصصية أقرأها لتولستوي. تتكون المجموعة القصصية من سبع قصص حيث تكون موت إيفان إيلييتش أكبرها. موت إيفان إيلييتش: تتحدث القصة بكل بساطة عن موت رئيس المحكمة إيفان إيلييتش.. ولا أخفي أنها أبكتني في صفحاتها الأخيرة حيث أنه لربما يصدف لي أنني أفكر فيما كان يشرحه تولستوي في هذه القصة. الكلية العائمة، هي الجذع المحوري الذي بدأت حياة إيلييتش تدور حوله حتى أتت على حتفه.. وقد لفتني معرفة تولستوي المذهلة بأعراض هذه الحالة التي يبدو أنها كان موت إيفان إيلييتش ليو تولستوي مجموعة من القصص القصيرة.. وهي أول مجموعة قصصية أقرأها لتولستوي. تتكون المجموعة القصصية من سبع قصص حيث تكون موت إيفان إيلييتش أكبرها. موت إيفان إيلييتش: تتحدث القصة بكل بساطة عن موت رئيس المحكمة إيفان إيلييتش.. ولا أخفي أنها أبكتني في صفحاتها الأخيرة حيث أنه لربما يصدف لي أنني أفكر فيما كان يشرحه تولستوي في هذه القصة. الكلية العائمة، هي الجذع المحوري الذي بدأت حياة إيلييتش تدور حوله حتى أتت على حتفه.. وقد لفتني معرفة تولستوي المذهلة بأعراض هذه الحالة التي يبدو أنها كانت مستعصية في ذلك الزمان بينما هي تتطلب جراحة هذه الأيام لإعادة الامور إلى نصابها. الكلية العائمة هي عندما تتموضع الكلية وخاصة تلك اليمنى في غير موضعها الطبيعي لسبب ما.. ويسبب ذلك الوضع الجديد للكلية إنحباس تدفق الدماء إليها مما يقتلها ببطء شديد.. مسبباً آلاماً مبرحة للمريض كما أنه سيتعرض إلى دوخة وغثيان وإنحباس في البول. ومن المثير في الأمر أن الألم يخف مع تمدد المريض على ظهره ورفع قدميه تماماً كما شرح تولستوي في حكايته بينما كان الأطباء يسخرون من فعل المريض هذا في الحكاية ! ما يحتاج إليه الإنسان من الأرض: هي حكاية تتحدث عن طمع الإنسان الذي لا ينتهي.. وجدتها لطيفة.. ولربما تصلح للأطفال كذلك. ومن الجدير بالذكر أن جواب السؤال المطروح في العنوان هو آخر جملة في القصة.. "وحين بقي الخادم وحده، حفر حفرة بطول الجسم فقط، بطول ثلاثة أذرع، ودفن فيها باكوم". قصة إيفان الغبي: ينطبق على هذه القصة وصف الحكايا الشعبية.. ولا بأس بها كذلك.. ومن عادة الروس أن يحكوا الحكايا عن مدى نجاح الأغبياء في الحياة. ورأيتها كذلك تصلح للأطفال. العامل إميليان والطبل الفارغ: يبرز في هذه الحكاية دهاء المرأة كما يحلو لتولستوي تصويره. لطيفة كذلك. الحبة العجيبة: تمثل رؤية تولستوي للأجيال المتتابعة ويسطع فيها مفهومه عن ضرورة أن تأكل الأجيال مما تصنعه أيديها كما كان الأمر في قصة إيفان الغبي كذلك. ثلاثة أبناء: يضرب تولستوي مثلاً هنا عن الله مع البشر.. حكاية معبرة. نيكولا بالكين: هنا، يذكرني أسلوب تولستوي بذلك الأسلوب المقالي الذي استخدمه في الحرب والسلام. بدأ الحكاية بسرد حكاية الجندي العجوز.. ثم تحول إلى مقال عن الفضيلة والخير والله. باختصار، مجموعة قصصية مسلية..

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I'm not a typically a fan of short stories, but this collection is unbelievable. Each story covers one or two topics central to life, society, and death. I can't help but think that stories like these gave way to the idea that fiction is better at conveying truth than any nonfiction possibly could. The first story is Family Happiness. It concerns romantic, passionate love and its passing nature, and how unhappiness is driven by our internal wants and losing sight of what brought happiness to begi I'm not a typically a fan of short stories, but this collection is unbelievable. Each story covers one or two topics central to life, society, and death. I can't help but think that stories like these gave way to the idea that fiction is better at conveying truth than any nonfiction possibly could. The first story is Family Happiness. It concerns romantic, passionate love and its passing nature, and how unhappiness is driven by our internal wants and losing sight of what brought happiness to begin with. Tolstoy also outlines the demands and dangers of social obligations, subordinating the marital relationship, and vanity. It's a good story to kick off this book. Next up is The Death of Ivan Ilych. What a masterful piece of writing. We learn right from the start that Ilych has died. he rest of the story is about his acceptance of his death and his perception of how others around him react to and deal with it. The story also details Ilych's death from a few other's perspective. The overarching message is that none of us live life considering death as a possibility. The third story is the Kreutzer Sonata. It begins as a story about love, but quickly evolves into an all-out war against the very notion. The commentary is just as relevant today as it was in the 19th century. This was my favorite of the four stories. The final story is Master and Man. It's about a wealthy landowner who takes a servant with him on a short journey to a neighboring town to buy a piece of land. The twist is that they leave in the middle of a snowstorm. The theme here is in the neighborhood of the Death of Ivan Ilych, again commenting on what it means to live and what we hold important during that time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    It's nice to be reminded every now and then that moralization can be used to make great literature, since our literature is so dominated by the idea that moralizing is always a flaw. Tolstoy appears to have been a natural at moralizing. Others will not doubt disagree, but I'm willing to argue that the best stories here are precisely those in which the moral of the story (or morality of the author) comes through most clearly: Ivan Ilyich, of course, but also The Kreutzer Sonata, The Devil, Master It's nice to be reminded every now and then that moralization can be used to make great literature, since our literature is so dominated by the idea that moralizing is always a flaw. Tolstoy appears to have been a natural at moralizing. Others will not doubt disagree, but I'm willing to argue that the best stories here are precisely those in which the moral of the story (or morality of the author) comes through most clearly: Ivan Ilyich, of course, but also The Kreutzer Sonata, The Devil, Master and Man, Father Sergius, and After the Ball (Alyosha the Pot is also moralizing, but unbearably dull. Alyosha is just good. It's important to the other stories that we see the evil as well as the simple hearts. The Forged Coupon is moralizing, but is also a Dostoevsky novel shrunk down to 1/10th of its original size and given a happy ending. No thank you). The bookending tales set in the Russian borderlands, on the other hand, are rollicking, but not particularly inspiring. I was very disappointed with Hadji Murat, in particular, though it made me want to learn more (something, anything) about the region. Anything else I have to say will be said better by Tolstoy. Well, almost anything. The Kreutzer Sonata features a wonderful proto-Bernhardian rant, in this case against marriage. I'd love to know if Bernhard had read it, what he thought of it, and if anyone has compared his work with Tolstoy's story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tam Sothonprapakonn

    Tolstoy keeps it so damn real. He tells it as it is. He describes life and death in such an excellent way that hasn't been done by any other writers that I've read before. He talks about love with both warm intimacy and brutal honesty, and not just romantic love, but also the love for God (I really like his particular ideal of Christianity, even though I myself am of no religion.), for goodness (His stories are like moral teachings.), and for fellow humans (He reminds us this again and again in Tolstoy keeps it so damn real. He tells it as it is. He describes life and death in such an excellent way that hasn't been done by any other writers that I've read before. He talks about love with both warm intimacy and brutal honesty, and not just romantic love, but also the love for God (I really like his particular ideal of Christianity, even though I myself am of no religion.), for goodness (His stories are like moral teachings.), and for fellow humans (He reminds us this again and again in his stories). Favorites: The Death of Ivan Ilyich - In the face of impending death, Ivan Ilyich looks back at his seemingly perfect life, learning that his whole life was indeed wrong, and finally finds redemption through the light. The Kreutzer Sonata - Love and jealously, the dark side of marriages. Master and Man - I cried. The Devil - A dark story about lust, depravity, and the fall of a family man. The Forged Coupon - Fucking genius.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    The story "The Death of Ivan Ilych" is one of my favorite stories ever written. Everything about it is so true. Tolstoy had that knack of speaking plain truth about subjects like death and war that we almost instinctively idealize for ourselves in our thoughts and writings, so that the simple truth, when we read it, hits us like a powerful revelation. This narrative of one man's journey from a busy, full middle class life into sickness and then his final slide into death is like death itself, bo The story "The Death of Ivan Ilych" is one of my favorite stories ever written. Everything about it is so true. Tolstoy had that knack of speaking plain truth about subjects like death and war that we almost instinctively idealize for ourselves in our thoughts and writings, so that the simple truth, when we read it, hits us like a powerful revelation. This narrative of one man's journey from a busy, full middle class life into sickness and then his final slide into death is like death itself, both mundane and profound. The image of Ivan Ilych's black bag shall be a part of my mental landscape forever.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Esther Pyle

    Each story is brilliant in its own way, but I would definitely recommend reading each story separately and not reading them one after another. I found that when I previously read the Kreutzer sonata I loved it because I could get into Tolstoy's story and philosophy completely whereas this time round I already had much to think on from the previous stories. I think each story says so much about human nature, relationships and who we are that to do them justice they need to be read individually.

  25. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    Shockingly not-good. Tolstoy's shorter works suffer from the utter lack of subtlety and nuance that make W&P and AK so memorable and beautiful. Indeed: most of the stories collected here are so severe and preachy that the reader might be excused for thinking he'd happened into some sort of bizarre seminary lecture. Wealthy and noble characters "fall" and get spiritual repeatedly. That's the dominating theme. People are oversexed and should abstain. Fiction should be artless and message-ful, Shockingly not-good. Tolstoy's shorter works suffer from the utter lack of subtlety and nuance that make W&P and AK so memorable and beautiful. Indeed: most of the stories collected here are so severe and preachy that the reader might be excused for thinking he'd happened into some sort of bizarre seminary lecture. Wealthy and noble characters "fall" and get spiritual repeatedly. That's the dominating theme. People are oversexed and should abstain. Fiction should be artless and message-ful, one of Tolstoy's personal dilemmas with his writing. A few shine" "Master and Man" is great. "Alyosha the Pot" is great. "Father Sergius" is the best out of the preachy lot. The others fall flat.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Madelyn

    rather drab plot, but excellent style.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    Non voglio dilungarmi troppo sulla capacità stilistica di Tolstòj: ci sono un sacco di saggi e di critici per quello. L'aspetto di questo libro su cui mi voglio soffermare è la potenza narrativa dell'opera, capace di farmi coinvolgere dai protagonisti di questi racconti come poche altre volte mi era successo. La morte di Ivàn Il'ic racconta dell'impotenza umana di fronte alla morte, quell'acerrima nemica che da sempre gli umani cercano di evitare fino all'ultimo. Nel primo capitolo un personaggio Non voglio dilungarmi troppo sulla capacità stilistica di Tolstòj: ci sono un sacco di saggi e di critici per quello. L'aspetto di questo libro su cui mi voglio soffermare è la potenza narrativa dell'opera, capace di farmi coinvolgere dai protagonisti di questi racconti come poche altre volte mi era successo. La morte di Ivàn Il'ic racconta dell'impotenza umana di fronte alla morte, quell'acerrima nemica che da sempre gli umani cercano di evitare fino all'ultimo. Nel primo capitolo un personaggio esterno, tale Petr Ivànovic, si reca sul letto di morte del giudice Ivàn, un vecchio collega: "sul volto aveva un'espressione che pareva dire che quel che occorreva fare era stato fatto: e fatto bene" (Tolstòj 2010, 7). Ed è vero: Ivàn Il'ic, morente a 45 anni, aveva sempre compiuto una vita regolare e dignitosa; fin dal secondo capitolo un narratore esterno ci racconta la storia del protagonista: Ivàn aveva successo sul lavoro, si era fatto una buona famiglia, si concedeva qualche frivolezza, giocava a carte... insomma, si era creato una sorta di routine. Ma un giorno il giudice si rese conto che qualcosa non andava: prova degli strani dolori, e ciò lo rende irritabile, al punto da far scricchiolare i rapporti (già in qualche modo inclinati) con la moglie e con la famiglia; successivamente, Ivàn Il'ic avrà una situazione analoga sul posto di lavoro. Evitando di rivelare tutto il contenuto della trama, ciò che mi ha stupito maggiormente è la capacità di questo racconto di far immergere il lettore nel crescente delirio del giudice. Quando si capisce che la malattia in questione è qualcosa di più grave di un semplice male passeggero, il giudice tenta in tutti i modi di guarire, ma scopre molto presto che ogni tentativo è inutile: si lascia quindi prendere dallo sconforto "e vivere così, al limite dell'annientamento, doveva farlo da solo, senza nessuna persona che lo comprendesse e ne provasse compassione" (T. 2010, 41). Qui cala una pesante sentenza: "ognuno è solo nel proprio dolore". L'indifferenza, o meglio, la totale insofferenza della sua famiglia nei confronti della malattia toglie ogni singolo barlume di speranza a Ivàn Il'ic. Abbandonato ai propri pensieri, il protagonista si lascia andare a riflessioni che sono più grandi di una singola esistenza. I temi trattati ora non sono più il rene o l'intestino cieco (presunte genesi della malattia di cui soffre) ma la vita e la morte, e più quest'ultima si avvicina, inesorabilmente, più il giudice tenta a tutti i costi di aggrapparsi alla vita, rimproverandosi, magari anche ingiustamente: "Forse non ho vissuto come avrei dovuto? Ma come è possibile, se ho fatto tutto come si doveva?" (T. 2010, 65) In effetti, Ivàn Il'ic ha rispettato perfettamente i canoni della consuetudine di un uomo abbiente del XIX secolo: una bella casa, una donna di bella presenza, il successo sul lavoro, i figli studiosi... Eppure... C'è qualcos'altro oltre a questo, ed il nostro protagonista scopre la tenebrosa verità verso le ultime pagine, guardando la moglie: "Gli abiti di lei, la sua struttura, l'espressione del suo viso, il suono della sua voce, tutto gli diceva un'unica cosa: 'Non è come dovrebbe essere. Tutto quello di cui hai vissuto e vivi è menzogna, inganno, che ti nasconde la vita e la morte'." (T. 2010, 71) Questo passaggio, così trascendente e filosofico, riporta la rabbia a Ivàn Il'ic, il quale si è accorto (decisamente troppo tardi) che la sua vita poteva (e forse doveva?) essere molto differente. Ho apprezzato molto anche gli altri racconti della raccolta, ma ho deciso di analizzare quello che dà il titolo per un semplice motivo: questo, ad oggi, è il mio racconto preferito in assoluto. Non mi era mai capitato di trovare un racconto che, in così poche pagine, sapesse coinvolgermi (e persino istruirmi, perché no) come questo.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Jonas

    Tolstoy kept it very fucking real. I find that "the Russians" material is generally surprisingly relevant for this day and age, even as early as Turgenev, and this is no exception. The first story in this collection, Family Happiness, is a bit slow and maybe the least accessible of the bunch. Still, the topic of filial life is examined in an interesting, if slightly depressing way. Everything after is gold. The kreutzner sonata is dark and examines aspects of the female condition and the male ps Tolstoy kept it very fucking real. I find that "the Russians" material is generally surprisingly relevant for this day and age, even as early as Turgenev, and this is no exception. The first story in this collection, Family Happiness, is a bit slow and maybe the least accessible of the bunch. Still, the topic of filial life is examined in an interesting, if slightly depressing way. Everything after is gold. The kreutzner sonata is dark and examines aspects of the female condition and the male psyche in remarkably prescient fashion. The titular (what a great word) story is fantastic in its own right, though you can get the gist of it just from the litany of commentary on it. The last story, HadjiMurad, was the most interesting to me. It is a narrative, based on true events and real folk hero Hadji Murad, depicting the conflict between the Russians and the people of Chechnya. Tolstoy makes excellent use of omniscient narration and shows surprising empathy for the Avars and respect for the diligence and loyalty of their culture. There is also no shortage of political commentary; Tolstoy does not hesitate to rip into the lofty lifestyles of Russian gentry. After this introduction to his work, I'm (almost) ready for War & Peace.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    Family Happiness: Well-written but trite. Still a pleasant reading experience. Such a view of marriage is very depressing though. The Death of Ivan Ilych: Very thought-provoking, especially in the context of the literature of contemporary Russian intelligentsia. Easily the best of the bunch. The Kreutzer Sonata: Another story where somebody is a psychologically disturbed douchebag, and tries to redeem themselves by coming up with an extensive new system of morality that justifies their actions. Pe Family Happiness: Well-written but trite. Still a pleasant reading experience. Such a view of marriage is very depressing though. The Death of Ivan Ilych: Very thought-provoking, especially in the context of the literature of contemporary Russian intelligentsia. Easily the best of the bunch. The Kreutzer Sonata: Another story where somebody is a psychologically disturbed douchebag, and tries to redeem themselves by coming up with an extensive new system of morality that justifies their actions. Personal accountabilty? What's that? My Russian History professor in college described this story as "excruciatingly painful," and I have to concur. Master and Man: Trite again, but okay. Makes travelling the wilds of Russia in winter seem pretty intimidating, though.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    "Ivan Ilyich", "Master and Man", and "Hadji Murat" are clearly the masterpieces in this collection of novellas and short stories. Terse, vigorous, they brim with the veracity of life. "Hadji Murat", as the American critic Harold Bloom points out, is basically Homer meets Hemingway and a blueprint for For Whom the Bell Tolls. Mmm. "The Kreutzer Sonato" and "The Devil", on the other hand, showcase Tolstoy's bizarre misogyny. "Father Sergius" and "The Forged Coupon" are supposed to have some kind of "Ivan Ilyich", "Master and Man", and "Hadji Murat" are clearly the masterpieces in this collection of novellas and short stories. Terse, vigorous, they brim with the veracity of life. "Hadji Murat", as the American critic Harold Bloom points out, is basically Homer meets Hemingway and a blueprint for For Whom the Bell Tolls. Mmm. "The Kreutzer Sonato" and "The Devil", on the other hand, showcase Tolstoy's bizarre misogyny. "Father Sergius" and "The Forged Coupon" are supposed to have some kind of spiritual meaning, but come across as myths and fables, rather than representations of real life. Even great writers write weird stuff is my conclusion. Meh.

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