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The Death of Ivan Ilych & Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy | LibraryThing
The Gulag Archipelago Abridged. Notes from Underground - eBook. Things Fall Apart. Tragedies, Vol. The Iliad. The Odyssey: Everyman's Library. Jane Eyre, Thrift Study Edition. My Antonia, Thrift Study Edition. Vassili and Nikolai are lost in a blizzard while trying to reach their destination so the short story is largely about this, whereas The Death of Ivan Ilyich is largely about a man lamenting his wasted life. Both of these short stories have interesting footnotes from Slater, but I feel that the former has a larger quantity of thought-prompting moments.
View 2 comments. Aug 28, Jbear62 rated it it was amazing. Both stories in this rule. Master and Man slaps hard as hell. Highly recommend. Short and quick. Pad your numbers. Oct 28, Shaun rated it it was amazing Shelves: bokklubben-world-library , modern-literature-existentialism , books-to-read-before-dying. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Two points in our lives can only be known and experienced anecdotally: our birth and our death.
Yet both stories also draw on experiences described in his earlier work and resolve some of the questions overwh Two points in our lives can only be known and experienced anecdotally: our birth and our death. Yet both stories also draw on experiences described in his earlier work and resolve some of the questions overwhelming him during his crisis of faith in the s. He slides gracefully into the roles offered to him, adjusting the attitudes and ethics of his youth to fit with the exigencies of his career, and accepting gladly the circus of perks and soul leisures offered by fashionable society and its luxuries.
He particularly enjoys playing cards, a pastime evidently despised by Tolstoy as much as by the German philosopher Schopenhauer, who thought it the most degraded and senseless behavior imaginable. Following what seems like an unremarkable injury, Ivan becomes gradually more incapacitated until finally he is unable to rise from the couch in his drawing room. Ironically, no one understands what he says. Instead, it is simply the wasted province of all that he leaves behind by relinquishing his life, all the possessions and affectations, and even the human intimacies that he permitted himself in order to pass off his life as a reality worth settling for.
Their master tries unsuccessfully to use the servant for his survival, as he has used his body for his own comfort for many years. The master dies in the blizzard but the servant, using his peasant wisdom and strength, survives to have a long and productive life.
The wealthy and youthful Vasili Andreevich is the master who is driven by greed to set out in a blizzard to make a bid on a piece of property. On the day that Andreevich decides to leave, Nikita is the only labor around who is sober so Andreevich hires him to accompany him in his sled from the small village where he lives to Goryackin. Wearing two fur-lined coats, Andreevich jumps into the coach, takes the reins and gives the horse a swat with the whip.
At first, they follow some tracks in the snow left by the previous sled, but quickly realize they have veered off the road. They take a turn that they hope will put them on another road marked with stakes, but once again are surrounded by snow drifts and become disoriented. The two men can find no road to either side of the sled. At last, Andreevich stops the sled to allow the sweating, heaving horse to rest. When they resume their journey, they follow the sound of girls singing and approach the village of Grishkino.
They pause for vodka and a bite of food, and the generous farm family offer them a place to spend the night.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Master and Man
Refusing, they leave and promptly get lost in the snowy woods again. It is dark when they decide to stop for the night. Nikita finds a comfortable spot near the front of the sled to huddle against the snowstorm. Andreevich prances about, sleepless, bemoaning his fate. Finally, he lies on top of the sleeping Nikita and puts his two coats above himself. This scene serves as a dramatic reminder to the reader of the commonsense wisdom of the peasant, contrasted with the clueless dithering of the wealthy.
When villagers find them the next day, Andreevich is frozen, Nikita is alive, but suffering frostbite. After surgery for removal of dead tissue and recuperation, Nikita lives for another 20 years. The narrator asks rhetorically whether Nikita was pleased with his life or would have preferred to die in the snow. Tolstoy understood this concept most completely after his spiritual conversion and could not rest until he tried his best to convey it to others through his writing, whether in parables, folktales, drama, pamphlets, or fiction.
Rock on, mis amigos and mis amigas! Jun 04, Christine rated it it was amazing Shelves: hs-ap-adult , cchs-library. The story begins with the news of Ivan Ilyich's death and then it goes back in time telling about his life and his slow torturous death. I explores how we live to expectations of society only to realize we haven't lived well. It's a story very well told. I am not sure how well it would play for the middle school set, but it is a great introduction to Depressing, Fatalistic Russian Literature without having In general, I don't care for Depressing, Fatalistic Russian Literature, but this I liked.
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I am not sure how well it would play for the middle school set, but it is a great introduction to Depressing, Fatalistic Russian Literature without having to muck through a zillion pages of Anna Karenina. May 28, Shawn rated it really liked it Shelves: ebook. View all 3 comments. And when I saw it at my local thrift store, I snatched it up of course. But reading it turned out to be much more painful than I realized.
And even Ivan himself turns away from it, til the end. He refuses to acknowledge the futility of his journey, until the only choice left to him is whether to save his servant. What are some you enjoyed? It feels great to knock it off the list! Dec 21, James rated it it was amazing Shelves: novella , from-russia-with-love , read-and-reread. Reading the tale, Master and Man, seems appropriate in the midst of winter. Tolstoy wrote this tale about a decade after The Death of Ivan Ilych and Winter cold is so important in the story that it becomes yet another character by the end of this sophisticated parable.
Snow and biting winds gust from its pages. Its climactic event, the transferal of heat from one body to another, has a resonance that cannot be denied, but my question would be: can it be believed? The story begins just following t Reading the tale, Master and Man, seems appropriate in the midst of winter.
The story begins just following the attendance of a merchant, Vasily Andreich Brekhunov, at the winter festival of St. Brekhunov immediately turns his attention to an opportunity to become richer. On a dark afternoon, despite the threat of a storm, he sets out to secure the purchase of a wood at a bargain price. He takes his "kind, pleasant" servant Nikita with him, a man Brekhunov values but insensitively exploits.
He pays him half what he should, and then "mostly not in money but in high-priced goods from [his] shop. There are plenty of symbols in the narrative and the tension almost immediately begins as Brekhunov and Nikita leave the village of Kresti "The Crosses". The narrator describes the breaking of limits in this passage: "As soon as they passed the last [building], they noticed at once that the wind was much stronger than they had thought. The road could hardly be seen The fields were all in a whirl, and the limit where sky and earth met could not be seen.
The snowstorm has intensified.
Again Nikita drowses, again they get lost in "the slanting net of wind-driven snow". Night is falling. They travel in a circle. They come again to Grishkino. This time they seek shelter at a wealthy household of the Taras family in the village. The contrast created between the cold loneliness of the wilderness and the cozy warmth of human habitation is striking. Nikita, icicles melting from his beard, drinks "glass after glass" of tea and feels "warmer and warmer, pleasanter and pleasanter". They could safely stay with the Taras family but Brekhunov again insists they must resume their journey.
They get lost a third time, in darkness this time, and the horse Mukhorty is too tired to carry on. Nikita prepares for a night outdoors, with Brekhunov in the sleigh and himself in a straw-lined hollow. Brekhunov smokes and thinks about "the sole aim, meaning, joy, and pride of his life — of how much money he had made and might still make". But these thoughts fade into the "whistling of the wind, the fluttering and snapping of the kerchief in the shafts, and the lashing of the falling snow against the bast of the sleigh.
He decides to take Mukhorty and abandon Nikita — "'it's all the same if he dies. What kind of life has he got! He "sees he is perishing in the middle of this dreadful snowy waste" and realizes the horse has brought him back to the sleigh and to the one man whom the horse loves. Then, amazingly, he scrapes the snow from Nikita and lies on top of him. In the morning Nikita is alive and Brekhunov is dead, frozen as if crucified, "his open mouth Brekhunov's thought that "'Nikita's alive, which means I'm alive, too,'" does not comport with the unmistakably Christian symbolism of the story.
There are many instances of the number three in the story, but the most insistently repeated symbol is that of the circle. This is a traditional symbol of the unity of life and death, the Chain of Being. In spite of this the moment of transformation seems at best coincidental and more likely forced. Does it represent a new form of interconnection for Brekhunov that did not exist previously, or is it a form of redemption or absolution for a life of greed and insensitivity? Do we really know these two characters who are identified primarily by a couple of essential characteristics?
To paraphrase a popular song: "Is that all there is, my friend? Brekhunov is odious but he sees himself as a "benefactor" although this may merely be relative to his forebears who owned Russian "souls". In the end these two along with the horse Mukhorty are trapped in a hostile world in a bitter and blinding snowstorm. The story only becomes a classic with the stroke of Tolstoy's pen whose clarity and simplicity of style is peerless. Feb 02, Richard rated it really liked it. Reading the introduction colored my reading so much that I'm not really sure what the fuck I read.
Memories of happier times as a child, and then things become a blur. Where is the joy of living, where are the moments spent with loved ones, where is the purpose of life? Status, beaten path, unexplored terrain, lonely death. Makes you feel like you're really dying in Russia. Tolstoy's short fiction is so much more enjoyable than his longer form fiction. The shorter fiction absorbs so much of the daily life of Russians and feels so relatable.
It's odd that Anna Karenina an aristocratic character is one so closely related to him when so many of his short fiction characters were everyday people and even in those extreme of poverty. Jun 01, Martin Raybould rated it really liked it. Two short stories about death that remind you how precious and fragile life is.
Aug 31, Duncan Whyte rated it really liked it. The Death of Ivan Ilyich: strong 4 to light 5 Master of man: strong 3. This took way too long to finish and not sure if it was worth it, but I'm glad I at least got through it. Apr 01, Michael Hester rated it really liked it. Jun 21, Laurelei rated it liked it Shelves: I'd never read Tolstoy before, so I thought I'd give him a try. My intended minor whenever I get to transfer I chose these two stories because one appears on the list, and it jumped out at me at the library!
Full of weight thanks for this mode of thought, Kundera! Dealing with death, right choices and redemption, they are certainly not beach reads. I preferred the second story to the first, though the ending of the first was compelling. What struck me spoilers!
Vassili was a trivial, easy to dislike sort of man, who was wholly concerned with profits, no matter the human cost, while his servant Nikita, though troubled by family problems and personal addictions, was an affable fellow. Long story short, in the end Vassili, after turning his back on Nikita in an extreme snowstorm, comes to save him and in doing so, dies. Much like Ivan, he is concerned with how he lived his life, what mistakes he might have made.
In his death, he is reborn and redeemed. Death, in the eyes of a viewer, is his gift. Yet as for Nikita, though during the storm he doesn't want to die, he is rather resigned after the debacle. He has tired of all of life's difficulties and just wishes it to be over. It almost makes the gift that Vassili gave worthless.
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The juxtaposition of these two deaths made for a haunting story. Even though I would have to anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more from Tolstoy. I read a bit about his personal life, and I'm curious to how it coloured his writing. Quotes: This is from the introduction to the book, and I just thought it was interesting because I adore Lawrence "Tolstoy is like D.
Lawrenceon occasion astonishingly repetitive, frequently clumsy. Both allow the thoughts of their characters to suffuse an apparently objective narrative. Unlike the controlled exploration of free indirect discourse in, say, Joyce's Dubliners, what we find in both Tolstoy and Lawrence is the instinctive imaginative projection of the sympathetic author. Then hope glintslike a drop of water. A drop lost in a turbulent ocean of despair.