The Death of Ivan Ilych And Other Stories

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9780451528803: The Death of Ivan Ilych And Other Stories

Leo Tolstoy combined detailed physical description with perceptive psychological insight to sweep aside the sham of surface appearances and lay bare man's intimate gestures, acts, and thoughts. Murder and sacrifice...greed and devotion...lust and affection...vanity and love -- one by one, in this volume of great stories, Tolstoy dissects the basic drives, emotions, and motives of ordinary people searching for self-knowledge and spiritual perfection. Chekhov said, "Of authors my favorite is Tolstoy." And Turgenev "marveled at the strength of his huge talent...It sends a cold shudder even down my back...He is a master, a master."

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Review:

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2009: To anyone for whom Leo Tolstoy's masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina have stood as giants too daunting to scale, and equally to the many readers who have devoured those novels and are hungry for more, we offer The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories. Newly translated by the team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, who have enlivened the Russian classics for a new generation, this selection of 11 of his finest stories reveals a Tolstoy of many sides and unsurpassed storytelling talents. Along with smaller gems like "Alyosha the Pot," the collection features a handful of thrilling longer tales that each carry the power of a novel: the terrifying murderer's confession of "The Kreuzer Sonata," the breathlessly dramatic path of a single crime through dozens of lives in "The Forged Coupon," and the haunting account of the isolation of mortality in the legendary title story. Most revelatory of all for a modern reader is the final novella, and Tolstoy's final work, "Hadji Murat," the disturbingly contemporary story of a fiercely honorable Chechen warrior caught between local rivalries and the ambivalent reach of a decadent empire. --Tom Nissley

About the Author:

Count Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828, in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Orphaned at nine, he was brought up by an elderly aunt and educated by French tutors until he matriculated at Kazan University in 1844. In 1847, he gave up his studies and, after several aimless years, volunteered for military duty in the army, serving as a junior officer in the Crimean War before retiring in 1857. In 1862, Tolstoy married Sophie Behrs, a marriage that was to become, for him, bitterly unhappy. His diary, started in 1847, was used for self-study and self-criticism; it served as the source from which he drew much of the material that appeared not only in his great novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), but also in his shorter works. Seeking religious justification for his life, Tolstoy evolved a new Christianity based upon his own interpretation of the Gospels. Yasnaya Polyana became a mecca for his many converts At the age of eighty-two, while away from home, the writer suffered a break down in his health in Astapovo, Riazan, and he died there on November 20, 1910.

Hugh McLean has published widely on Russian literature.

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Tolstoy, Leo
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