Synopses & Reviews
"In the lovely, low tones of a fine storyteller, Oliver Fox Davies guides us through the stages of Tolstoy's mini masterpiece. Davies's skill with inflection, even within words, heightens the social satire of the early section and shifts with Ilyich's slide into ever increasing pain and irritability. With the terror and anguish of approaching death, his voice grows convincingly hoarse. Until his illness, Ivan Ilyich had never reflected on his life. But he slowly comes to see his life as 'a terrible, huge deception which had hidden life and death.' As he lays dying, his lifelong friends think of the promotions that may come their way, and his wife 'began to wish he would die, but she didn't want him to die because then his salary would cease.' He has always avoided human connection, but through the tender ministrations of a peasant he comes to recognize the 'mesh of falsity' in which he's lived. Written more than a century ago, Tolstoy's work still retains the power of a contemporary novel." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Though famous for the massive War and Peace, Tolstoy was equally adept at shorter forms as is shown by this novella. Ivan Ilyich Golovin is a high court judge in St Petersburg who lives a carefree life. One day, without warning, he is beset by pains and soon has to come to terms with the fact that he is going to die. The judge has to learn to face death without fear and yet feel compassion for the family he is leaving behind.