Book Review: Ivan Ilych Tolstoy

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¶ … Ivan Ilych

Tolstoy refers to Ivan's Ilych's life as the "most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible" in second chapter. Why?

Ivan Ilych has had, on the surface, a very successful life. He is a magistrate with a powerful position. But he has no fundamental convictions -- all his life, he has only said what is needed to advance his career and to please others, not to please himself. This, Tolstoy implies in his third-person authorial aside, is all too common. Also, Ilych's career has not translated into a successful family and personal life, in Tolstoy's view, two of the core aspects of being human. Instead, Ilych is only concerned about the type of impression his family will make on society. His values are empty, and he is single-mindedly focused on the material aspects of existence, which are in reality the simplest and the most transient parts of human life. Even Ilych's colleagues are more interested in how his death will profit them, in terms of their possibilities for promotions. They do not care about human aspects of his death -- he has made no real impression… [END OF PREVIEW]

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