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The Death of Ivan Ilyich & Confessions, Leo Tolstoy


The legendary author from Russia. His style and use of repetition is faithfully preserved in this translation from Peter Carson that dives into the meaning of life. In Ivan Ilyich, Ivan lives with a wife who is trying to destroy the pleasant tenor and decorum of his life. He tries to ignore his wife’s state of mind, and continue to live pleasantly, not to submit, to protect himself from such destruction. As he aged and grew ill, he is shunned by his family, and he knew he had to live on the brink of the abyss, alone, without a single person who could understand and take pity on him. He tried to conceal death, and the only person who could calm him as he was gravely ill was his servant Gerasim, whose strength and high spirits calmed him. We all need calm before the storms, before death. Confessions helps expose the theoretical aspects of The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Confessions is a self-dive into the spiritual development from his youth, the crisis and eventual rejection of the church, and the self-realizations of the moral compass religion can provide as one grows older and closer to death. His loss of faith in Christian teachings and more related to self-perfection. The potential harms of progress and no rationalities of existence could justify some acts of progress. Everything is evolving within him and around him and that is how he began formulating his faith. He began to embrace the moral teachings of Jesus separate from the forms of any religion. It was Socrates who said, “A wide man seeks death his whole life and therefore death holds no fear for him.”