Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Tolstoy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tolstoy. Show all posts

05 February, 2017

Leo Tolstoy, "The Death of Ivan Ilych"

I have finally read "The Death of Ivan Ilych." Ivan agonizes over his illness and dying; his wife, his children, his colleagues, are annoyed and inconvenienced, mostly, over his dying. Ivan finally realizes that he's not lived the way he should have, that his life has been trivial. Written, or first published, in 1886, the version I have was translated in about 1915 by Constance Garnett.

The psychological study of a man who is afraid to die and many stages of fear, reconciliation, questioning, confronting, and relenting are closely observed and deftly explained. The story is nearly sixty pages long and divided into twelve chapters or sections.

"The doctor said: This and that proves that you have such-and-such a thing wrong inside you; but if that is not confirmed by analysis of this and that, then we must assume this and that. If we assume this and that, then--and so on. To Ivan Ilych there was only one question of consequence, Was his condition dangerous or not?"

"And he began going over in his imagination the best moments of his pleasant life. But strange to say, all these best moments of his pleasant life seemed now not at all what they had seemed then."

"'Can it be 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?' he said, and at once dismissed this only solution of all the enigma of his life and death as something utterly out of the question."