The brilliance of this story is in how a normal bureaucrat, a judge in this case, has a small accident that winds up gradually taking his life. As he deals with this incident, with hope at first and then despair, he comes to terms with his family, his life, and the mediocrities that we all suffer with, except for the exceptional few. This story rings a particularly poignant note for those in early middle age facing the next part of their lives. This story is considered Tolstoy's best.
Public Domain (P)2011 Christina Brown
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is a late Tolstoy novella (perhaps his best short) examining one life facing death. The narration is good (not great) and does not get in the way of the text at all. The writing is excellent among the best you will ever read. The story is dark, quite non-religious, and largely existentialist, thus some may find it too depressing. Others may find in the story a powerful illustration of the primary lesson of life; If you waste it, you will regret it. It does this without being the tiniest bit preachy, moralistic, or predictable. At two bucks one of the best values on Audible. If you haven't read any Tolstoy, this is the place to start.
Ironically, the answer to both questions is Ivan's conversion at the end of his life. The humanity of facing ones death is an inevitability for all and our vision of Ivan is a window into that psychology. For 99.99%+ of the population, we can only truly understand the death experience when we die. I only give nominal deference to those who have "experienced" being brain dead but have been revived. Even still, they did not die completely. Tolstoy's attempt is ambitious but it rings plausible enough for a honest rendering of my own end (several decades from now, I hope). What most disappointed me was the ending which described a conversion that was anything besides a factual existence. Ivan began his long path of terminal diagnosis in a state of disbelief. How could he be dying since he lived so well? But in the end, his pain goes away only when he accepted that he lived selfishly. This realization perpetuates the mythology that our sufferings are directly proportional to our "goodness". At one point, all the people around Ivan, including the doctors, accept the inevitable because Ivan's ailments are beyond their reach and understanding - why cannot man accept that the world in all of its glory and good things is made for their sole benefit? This ego-centrism is frustrating to witness first hand but perhaps can be somewhat forgiven as this was written in the 1886 when religion was still a principle source of scientific knowledge.
See question above.
I'm keeping my 2-star rating but it's probably unfair. I DID feel the performance was a bit mechanical but so was the writing. Still, I can not offer an alternate narrator.
No, this book is not open ended and nor should it be. This book is intended to efface self-reflection regarding death and I think it's sufficiently accomplished.
The only saving grace for this Audio book is the story itself. Bill DeWees is awful and lifeless. For a period of time I thought it was a computer generated voice and then realized it was a person. I struggled to listen to this lifeless narration.
If you like stories that make you reflect and give you some insight on life, you'll love this one. And it is under 2 hours and $2... honestly, what better way to spend your time and money? This book is great food for thought in an economic little package.
DeWees doesn't stand in the way of this book with his narration. A lot of narrators, to me, do too much dramatization/interpretation of their own. I love that DeWees's delivery isn't flat/boring, but he just reads it simply and directly, not adding too much personal flair to it. Really helped me to get into the story in my own head.
The narration of this one has NO affect. It was so bad that I downloaded it on my nook so I could read instead of listen. I will never download a book narrated by this guy again.
Everyone should read this book at least once in their lifetime. I just hope I don't feel the same way when I go.
This short story is a great wake-up call to all of us who are preparing to retire instead of preparing to die. I want to be ready when my time comes. Ivan Illyich gives me a glimpse of what it might look like to approach the reality of my mortality without a clue. I've listened to this book many times already and hear something insightfully new each time I re-listen.
Clear. Intelligible. Engaging. He sounds like he could be one of the charcters in this story.
Gerasim. While I know much about Ivan because he's the main character, I'd like to know more about this kind, guileless young man.
Leo Tolstoy is one of the greatest writers of all times ... this book is very unique ... through a smiple but incridably well written story all the questions of life, death, right and wrong are raised and challanged...
The insights into characters' thoughts and feelings behind the events.
No. He read mechanically, like a kid in a highschool drama performance, but with no teacher to correct his pronunciation. Laughably bad French and embarrassing English.
"Read with an American accent"
The story is ok, not fantastic. But what irritated me most was the strong American accent of the narrator. And here especially the way he pronounced the name of the main protagonist Ivan. Spoiled it for me.
"The life story of Ivan."
No. The story is not really as per synopsis. I expected more of how feeling the hand of mortality affects an individual. Nevertheless, the listener can be drawn into the characters of this story, so in fairness I've given it some stars.
It just tells of Ivan's career, marriage, family, marital problems, onset of illness and ends with his death and his wife's reactions in bereavement. That is everyone's story, nothing unusual and without interesting insights.
Just a plot line for a soap.
Full names, narrated every time each character is mentioned. Ivan is never called just Ivan, always his full name, same for everyone else. This was very tedious, confusing and unnecessary as lends nothing to the story for such great effort. Bill DeWees is tongue-twisting very similar sounding surnames throughout, awful!
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