The Death Of Ivan Ilych

By Leo Tolstoy,

Book cover of The Death Of Ivan Ilych

Book description

The Death of Ivan Ilyich, first published in 1886, is a novella by Leo Tolstoy, one of the masterpieces of his late fiction, written shortly after his religious conversion of the late 1870s. "Usually classed among the best examples of the novella", The Death of Ivan Ilyich tells the story…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Death Of Ivan Ilych as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

It’s not possible that Tolstoy died and lived to tell about it, but that's what this book feels like.

As Ivan Ilych’s illness progresses, the reader sees how shallow his relationships are, and how fruitless is his striving to “get ahead.” As I read this book, I felt the vast chasm between the living and the dying, how alone Ivan is in his suffering. Ivan Ilych is no hero: he is an everyman. He squarely faces the pointlessness of his life, and ultimately throws off the things of no importance.

Through his experience I anticipated my own death, and felt…

Though written 150 years ago, Tolstoy’s novella describes the life of an intensely goal-oriented person who is very much like many of our contemporaries—perhaps very much like us. Intent on marrying well, ascending to the top of social order, achieving wealth and power, he is marvelously successful—until he begins to have a pain in his side that turns out to be world-shattering. This may seem to be too dark for a “best book on spiritual breakthrough.” But perhaps such breakthroughs happen differently from how we imagine them.

From Jerome's list on spiritual breakthrough.

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