Friday, January 9, 2009

Blog starters for Ivan Ilych

The following statements have all been culled from Ronald Blythe’s introduction to The Death of Ivan Ilyich.  You may choose one and comment on its relevance to the novella. By all means if there is another issue you want to discuss, do so (Ilyich’s relationship with Gerasim, materialism, authenticity, fear of death, what does it mean to be human, etc).

1.    The novel evokes “the sheer desolating aloneness of dying.”

2.    “[Love] could have rescued Ivan Ilyich from all the fright and despair which terorized him during the final two weeks had he allowed it to. . . Love masters death [only at the end].”

3.    Tolstoy condemns “Ivan Ilyich’s opportunism, marriage of convenience, vanity, and limitation, and then, with astonishment, the reader finds himself beginning to like this conventional man and to be sorry when he starts to lose out to death.”

4.    The story “is the tragedy of a man who is a death illiterate and who has to make his way out of the world through the ranks of other death illiterates.”

5.    Tolstoy shows us “a man. . . who had not taken the trouble to grow up, morally speaking, while he was passing through [life], and. . .then [shows] how salvation could overtake a slowing pulse rate, bringing maturity at the last.”