sábado, 3 de enero de 2015

The Death of Ivan Ilych - Leo Tolstoy


I read this novella a couple of weeks ago and I didn't write a review right away; I had to put my thoughts in order (they rarely are but, oh well). That only happens after reading an amazing book, brilliantly written, that deals with the human condition like Dostoyevsky's keen eye can deal. This book is about life itself, life in its most virtuous and degrading glory. This masterpiece has no more than 120 pages, but it manages to show many perspectives on different issues concerning the human nature; it is insane.

Life without meaning. A hollow, immoral life that, from a certain perspective, seems even worse than death. A first sign of that meaning appears, ironically, when life is about to end. So human.

This book starts with Ivan's death. Every human reaction described by Tolstoy is too damn real. Every passage has a different idea, a different way of describing real human behavior. A person just died and his allegedly best friend is thinking about getting out of his room so he can play cards with another fella. And don't get me started on the widow... A life vanished and this shallow people can't stop thinking about themselves.

Ivan Ilyich achieved an important social status after years of work, pushing his family aside. A man that thought he had lived well, was now suffering a painful death. However, is this death more painful than the way he actually lived? Did he live, at all? The eternal questions remain unanswered: what is exactly “to live”? What's the meaning of all that? Why are we here? Why can't you tickle yourself? What's a number? Can we really be objective? Will airplane food get any better? Will celebrities ever stop naming their kids after inanimate objects?
OK, moving on.

There are many things I would like to say about this book but I just can't. I don't want to spoil this anymore. And I know you can read a lot about it in any other place, but not in this review.

I never ask anyone to read anything. However, I urge you, and you, and the other one next to you... to read this book. 

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