A vibrant translation of Tolstoy’s most important short fiction by the award-winning translators of War and Peace.
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.
Here are eleven masterful stories from the mature author, some autobiographical, others moral parables, and all told with the evocative power that was Tolstoy’s alone. They include “The Prisoner of the Caucasus,” inspired by Tolstoy's own experiences as a soldier in the Chechen War, “Hadji Murat,” the novella Harold Bloom called “the best story in the world,” “The Devil,” a fascinating tale of sexual obsession, and the celebrated “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” an intense and moving examination of death and the possibilities of redemption.
Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translation captures the richness, immediacy, and multiplicity of Tolstoy’s language, and reveals the author as a passionate moral guide, an unflinching seeker of truth, and ultimately, a creator of enduring and universal art.