The Death of Ivan Ilyich
Publication Date: March 1981
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Hailed as one of the world's supreme masterpieces on the subject of death and dying, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story of a worldly careerist, a high court judge who has never given the inevitability of his death so much as a passing thought. But one day death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise he is brought face to face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?
This short novel was the artistic culmination of a profound spiritual crisis in Tolstoy's life, a nine-year period following the publication of Anna Karenina during which he wrote not a word of fiction. A thoroughly absorbing and, at times, terrifying glimpse into the abyss of death, it is also a strong testament to the possibility of finding spiritual salvation.
Ronald Blythe is one of the UK's foremost literary figures. His work, which has won countless awards, includes Akenfield (a Penguin 20th Century Classic - it was also made into a feature film), Private Words, Field Work, Outsiders: a Book of Garden Friends and numerous other titles. He is a recipient of the prestigious Benson Medal awarded by the Royal Society of Literature. He lives near Colchester.