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Tolstoy wrote The Death of Ivan Ilyich. (1886) while emerging from the intense spiritual struggle that led to his conversion to Christianity. The novella was hailed by intellectuals such as Gandhi and Vladimir Nabokov. Ivan Ilych Golovin, is a high-court judge in St. Petersburg facing the threat of a terminal disease and the worthlessness of his past life. Tolstoy depicts the protagonist rising to spiritual heights as his health continuously declines.
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Hailed as one of the world's supreme masterpieces on the subject of death and dying, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story of a worldly careerist, a high court judge who has never given the inevitability of his death so much as a passing thought. But one day death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise he is brought face to face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?
This short novel was the artistic culmination of a profound spiritual crisis in Tolstoy's life, a nine-year period following the publication of Anna Karenina during which he wrote not a word of fiction. A thoroughly absorbing and, at times, terrifying glimpse into the abyss of death, it is also a strong testament to the possibility of finding spiritual salvation.
Leo Tolstoy was a Russian novelist and moral philosopher noted for his ideas of nonviolent resistance. His diary reveals an incessant pursuit of a morally justified life. He was known for his generosity to the peasants.His best known novels are War and Peace (1869), which Tolstoy regarded as an epic rather than a novel, and Anna Karenina (1877). His work was admired in his time by Dostoyevsky, Checkov, Turgenev, and Flaubert, and later by Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.
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