The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories

The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories

by Leo Tolstoy

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A vibrant translation of Tolstoy’s most important short fiction by the award-winning translators of War and Peace.
Here are eleven masterful stories from the mature author, some autobiographical, others moral parables, and all told with the evocative power that was Tolstoy’s alone.  They include “The Prisoner of the Caucasus,” inspired by Tolstoy's own experiences as a soldier in the Chechen War, “Hadji Murat,” the novella Harold Bloom called “the best story in the world,” “The Devil,” a fascinating tale of sexual obsession, and the celebrated “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” an intense and moving examination of death and the possibilities of redemption.
Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation captures the richness, immediacy, and multiplicity of Tolstoy’s language, and reveals the author as a passionate moral guide, an unflinching seeker of truth, and ultimately, a creator of enduring and universal art.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780808576389
Publisher: Demco Media
Publication date: 10/01/1999
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Count Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy displayed an extraordinary duality of character in a life filled with deep contradictions. He was born to an artistocratic Russian family on Sept. 9, 1828. His parents died when he was young, and he was raised by several female relatives. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan, remaining there only three years. At the age of 23, Tolstoy joined the Russian Army and fought in the Crimean War. While still in the service, his first published story appeared, a largely autobiographical work called Childhood (1852). Tolstoy returned to his estate in 1861 and and established a school for peasant children there. In 1862, he married Sofia Behrs and gradually abandoned his involvement with the school. The next fifteen years he devoted to managing the estate, raising his and Sofia's large family, and writing his two major works, War and Peace (1865-67) and Anna Karenina (1875-77). During the latter part of this fifteen-year period, Tolstoy found himself growing increasingly disenchanted with the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church. In the ensuing years, Tolstoy formulated for himself a new Christian ideal, the central creed of which involved nonresistance to evil; he also preached against the corrupt evil of the Russian state, of the need for ending all violence, and of the moral perfectibility of man. He continued to write voluminously, primarily nonfiction, but also other works, such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886). In 1910, still unable to reconcile the differences in the lives led by the aristocracy and the simpler existence he craved, Tolstoy left the estate. He soon fell ill and was found dead on a cot in a remote railway station. He was buried on his estate at Yasnaya Pulyana.

Date of Birth:

September 9, 1828

Date of Death:

November 20, 1910

Place of Birth:

Tula Province, Russia

Place of Death:

Astapovo, Russia


Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47

Read an Excerpt

Hadji Murat

Excerpted from "The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories"
by .
Copyright © 2008 Leo Tolstoy.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

The Prisoner of the Caucasus
The Diary of a Madman
The Death of Ivan Ilyich
The Kreutzer Sonata
The Devil
Master and Man
Father Sergius 
After the Ball 
The Forged Coupon 
Alyosha the Pot 
Hadji Murat 

Glossary of Caucasian Mountaineer Words

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The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
maunder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
john257hopper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
hampusforev on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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...
SanctiSpiritus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent, soulful book in the vein of The Trial, and Crime and Punishment. Vladimir Nabokov sums my views of this Novella quite well.In his lectures on Russian Literature Russian born Novelist and critic Vladimir Nabokov argues that, for Tolstoy, a sinful life is (such as Ivan's was), 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."(Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich: Lectures On Russain Literature pg.237: Harcourt Edition)
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the book a lot. It was a sad story about how a man died but they never told what he died of because they never knew. I loved how they gave his feelings and just didn't leave you in blind about them. It was interesting how they didn't have a fairy tale ending. That is always nice when it is an ending as it was. I haven't read the other two stories in the book, but I am sure they are just as well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was ok not that big of a fan. This book is mainly about death.
Robyn_hood More than 1 year ago
Ivan Ilyich must take stock of his life as he slowly dies. Most of his life, he has wasted on worrying over needless things - nice clothes, high society, the right house - to realize that it all meant nothing. I had always shied away from Tolstoy fearing that he was too overwhelming for me to read, but I found this existential novella compelling and deeply moving. The story moves quickly for his life had little substance; in fact, his fall was probably the most significant thing that had ever occurred. The novella picks up as he begins to suffer, and as he slowly comes to an epiphany about the meaning of life. This story lingers with me, and it reminds us not to whittle away our on the things that matter least. Everyman...we can't take our goods with us to the grave. We can take our good deeds and good hearts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first story in this bok is what I've read so far, it's great! I love Tolstoy now! 'Happy Ever After' is depressing but sadly beautiful in it's own way. The characters are real and you really want to hit them sometimes (or Marya any way!)!