The Death of Ivan Ilyich
By Leo Tolstoy
Translated by Hugh Aplin
The judge Ivan Ilyich Golovin has spent his life in the pursuit of wealth and status, devoting himself obsessively to work and often neglecting his family in the process. When, after a small accident, he fails to make the expected recovery, it gradually becomes clear that he is soon to die. Ivan Ilyich then starts to question the futility and barrenness of his previous existence, realizing to his horror, as he grapples with the meaning of life and death, that he is totally alone.
Included in this volume is another celebrated novella by Tolstoy, The Devil, which addresses the conflicts between desire, social norms and personal conscience, providing at the same time a further exploration of human fear and obsession.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich is usually regarded as an amazing narrative of the experience of dying, a search for the meaning of death. It is all that, and more: it’s a great questioning of what is and what ought to be in a human life.
Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) is regarded by some as the greatest novelist of all time. With such masterpieces as Anna Karenina and War and Peace, he influenced generations of writers and changed the course of world literature.