The Death of Ivan Ilych
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The novella ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich’ by Leo Tolstoy was published in 1886 and is considered a masterpiece of his late period fiction. It tells the story of a high-court judge in nineteenth century Russia. He lives a simple, carefree life with his family until he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Confined to bed, he is disgusted that his family avoids the subject of his death by pretending that he is only sick and not dying. He finds comfort only in Gerasim, the peasant boy who does not fear death. In his final days, Ivan distinguishes the artificial life – like his own – from the authentic life lived by Gerasim. Right at the end, he sees a bright light, fear leaves him, and he departs with a feeling of compassion for his family.
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