The Death of Ivan Ilyich / Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy

The 19th Centry Reading Group is trying to get going again and these two novellas were chosen for our first selections. I wanted to both read and listen to these novellas, but I got two different translations of each. I got one audio book containing both stories narrated by Simon Vance, but I’m not sure about the translator – probably Constance Garnett and one e-book of both stories translated and with an Introduction by Ann Pasternak Slater. I’ll likely read both versions of each. I read The Death of Ivan Ilyich a long time ago. maybe a couple times. I think I have a copy of Tolstoy’s stories is here in the house somewhere.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Master and Man
by Leo Tolstoy – (translated)
1886 and 1895 originally –
read by Walter Zimmerman
rating – 8.5 / classic Russian lit

The Audible version was certainly not the cheapest version available, but I’m a sucker for Simon Vance. The Kindle version was quite reasonable. The thing is that there are different translations involved. The Kindle book was translated and introduced by Anna Pasternak Slater. I have no idea who the Audible version was translated by but it wasn’t Pasternak because the narratives in the audiobook and the Kindle don’t match. Interesting.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich is basically the story of a very sick and dying man. He thinks about his own life and attitudes but the reactions of his business acquaintances are included. He’s not been a “nice” guy. The story is very insightful as well as being highly moralistic/spiritual and for that it’s a classic.

Master and Man is the story of another death. This time a fairly rich man and his servant travel in bad weather to take care of some business with a neighbor. It was interesting reading a new-to-me Tolstoy.

He wrote these some time after his conversion in the 1880s so there is a pointed moral tone against riches and in favor of the hard but simple peasant life.

I don’t know as I’ll read more Tolstoy. At my age, I think I’m past learning from it and to the point of living it.

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1 Response to The Death of Ivan Ilyich / Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    Yeah, I wasn’t very thrilled about Ivan Illyich. I think I missed the point of it…


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