Quotes and Questions from The Death of Ivan Ilyich


As the second-to-last full-class book (we already have the large focus area of our research projects in full swing) in FYS we’re reading The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (the same author who wrote The Kingdom of God is Within You). For this third journal of the second semester we are to list 6 quotes that are well written, confusing, compelling, etc. and also 6 questions that come to us while reading. I’ve listed these as they come to me after the break.

Quote 1: “Besides the reflections upon the transfers and possibilities in the department likely to result from Ivan Ilyich’s decease, the mere fact of the death of an intimate associate aroused, as is usual, in all who heard of it a complacent feeling that ‘it is he who is dead, and not I’” (Tolstoy 102) As well as lines immediately following…

Quote 2: “The thought of the sufferings of the man he had known so intimately, first as a light-hearted child, then a youngster at school, and later on, when they were grown up, as a partner at at whist, suddenly struck Piotr Ivanovich with horror, in spite of the unpleasant consciousness of his own and this woman’s hypocrisy. He again saw that brow, and the nose pressing down on the lip, and was overcome with a feeling of dread on his own account.” (Tolstoy 107)

Quote 3: “The story of Ivan Ilyich’s life was of the simplest, most ordinary and therefore most terrible.” (Tolstoy 109)

Quote 4: “The birth of their child, the attempts to feed it and the various failures to do so, and the real and imaginary illnesses of infant and mother, in which Ivan Ilyich’s sympathy was demanded but about which he understood nothing.” (Tolstoy 115)

Quote 5: “And tired but feeling like some artist - one of the first violins in the orchestra - who has given a perfect performance, he would return home.” (Tolstoy 123)

Quote 6: “And Praskovya Fiodorovna said, not without justification now, that her husband had a trying temper.” (Tolstoy 125)

Question 1: In what ways would a spouse disrupt your preexisting social connections? (Tolstoy 115)

Question 2: Is it unhealthy to move the center of your life from home to work and why? (Tolstoy 116)

Question 3: Would depression caused by taking a leave from work or studies be healthy or unhealthy and why? (Tolstoy 118)

Question 4: Is thinking in a selfish manner the “right thing to do”

Question 5: Can you take every word you hear from an “expert” in one field or another as true? (Tolstoy 129)

Question 6: When someone is in obvious pain do you let them know that you’re worried about them and change your behavior or keep it to yourself and watch them suffer? (Tolstoy 132)

Lastly, for these academic posts where I quote the work of others I’m going to get into the habit of providing full citations, so here is the citation for The Death of Ivan Ilyich:

Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories (London: Penguin Books, 1960)