"I want to begin and finish something new, either the 'death of a judge' or 'the diary of a madman,'" wrote Count Leo Tolstoy in his diary entry of 27 April 1884. What emerged two years later was The Death of Ivan Ilich, a short novel in which Tolstoy depicts the thoughts of an ordinary man who, on discovering he is gravely ill, begins for the first time to contemplate the meaning of life and death - questions similar to those pondered by Tolstoy during his own spiritual crisis. Yet while The Death of Ivan Ilich is generally regarded as the Russian writer's crowning literary achievement during the last thirty years of his life, until now no book-length study has been devoted to it.
With this new entry in Twayne's Masterworks Studies series, Gary R. Jahn ably fills that gap in the scholarship on Tolstoy. Here readers will find a straightforward explanation of the novel's historical, literary, and critical significance and a well-crafted, chapter-by-chapter analysis of the literary techniques, patterns, and themes Tolstoy employed in writing his text. Invoking an inventive and engaging strategy, Jahn asks the reader to approach the text from an ironic or "reversed" standpoint - that is, to view what seems literal as figurative and vice versa - with an eye toward discovering the multiple patterns of organization and allusion permeating The Death of Ivan Ilich. Jahn's exploration of the critical response to the novel puts the emphasis on English-language scholarship, but takes foreign-language commentary into account as well. A solid, well-organized presentation that illuminates as it challenges, The Death of Ivan Ilich: An Interpretation is sure to be welcomed as an essential guide to understanding and appreciating Tolstoy's great short novel.
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Gary R. Jahn is an associate professor in the Institute of Languages and Literatures at the University of Minnesota.
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Book Description Twayne Publishers, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110805794395