Book: The Death of Ivan Ilylich

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October 4, 2012 by chriszumtobel

I thought it was about time I read some Tolstoy and I’ve been itching to pick one of his books up somewhere.  I ran into this book at used bookstore for three bucks and it seemed small enough that it would be an alright read (compared to the Anna Karenina that looked like a Bible, with gold brimmed pages, or the War and Peace that was separated into three different volumes) and it had death in the title (I guess that’s a similarity to Woody Allen that I have, being drawn to anything about death).

I was right about it being a short read, but it wasn’t quite an easy read.  The actual writing is never hard to get through, it’s just the ideas on the pages that are sometimes difficult to pick up on.  I’m sure it comes from the fact that Tolstoy is writing a book about death, which is his favorite subject and something he spent his life worrying about, and he tried to cram all his thoughts into a mere 100 page book.  That being said it is really an interesting read,  my favorite line in the book comes at the end when Ivan is on his deathbed,

“It occurred to him that what had seemed inconceivable before–that he had not lived the kind of life he should have–might in fact be true.  It occurred to him that those scarcely perceptible impulses of his to protest what people of high rank considered good, vague impulses which he had always suppressed, might have been precisely what mattered, and all the rest might not be the real thing.”

This is a great read for the right person.  If you wonder if you have the right priorities in life and if your heading down the right path, then maybe pick up this book and see if good ole Leo Tolstoy can kick you into shape.

Have you read Tolstoy?  Have you tackled War and Peace or Anna Karenina?

You can find the rest of my book reviews on this page

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