Sunday, February 24, 2008

Quotations from *The Death of Ivan Ilyich*, 1 of 2
Leo Tolstoy (Lev Tolstoi)
1828-1910 Russian
translated by Lynn Solotaroff

As a law student he had become exactly what he was to remain the rest of his life: a capable, cheerful, good-natured, and sociable man but one strict to carry out whatever he considered his duty, and he considered his duty all things that were so designated by people in authority.
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

So they lived. Everything went along without change and everything was fine.
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

“What do you want?” was the first thought sufficiently intelligible to be expressed in words. “What do you want? What do you want?” he repeated inwardly. “What? Not to suffer. To live,” he replied.

And once again he listened with such rapt attention that even the pain did not distract him.

“To live? How?” asked the voice of his soul.

“Why, to live as I did before—happily and pleasantly.”

“As you lived before, happily and pleasantly?” asked the voice.
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

His marriage—a mere accident—and his disillusionment with it, and his wife’s bad breath, and the sensuality, and the pretense! And that deadly service, and those worries about money; and so it had gone for a year, two years, ten years, twenty years—on and on in the same way. And the longer it lasted, the more deadly it became. “It’s as though I had been going steadily downhill while I imagined I was going up. That’s exactly what happened. In public opinion I was moving uphill, but to the same extent life was slipping away from me. And now it’s gone and all I can do is die!

“What does it all mean? Why has it happened? It’s inconceivable, inconceivable that life was so senseless and disgusting. And if it really was so disgusting and senseless, why should I have to die, and die in agony? Something must be wrong. Perhaps I did not live as I should have,” it suddenly occurred to him. “But how could that be when I did everything one is supposed to?” he replied and immediately dismissed the one solution to the whole enigma of life and death, considering it utterly impossible.
Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

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