'no one pitied him as he would have liked to be pitied' As Ivan Ilyich lies dying he begins to re-evaluate his life, searching for meaning that will make sense of his sufferings. In 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich' and the other works in this volume, Tolstoy conjures characters who, tested to the limit, reveal glorious and unexpected reserves of courage or baseness of a near inhuman kind. Two vivid parables and 'The Forged Coupon', a tale of criminality, explore class relations after the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and the connection between an ethical life and worldly issues. In 'Master and Workman' Tolstoy creates one of his most gripping dramas about human relationships put to the test in an extreme situation. 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich' is an existential masterpiece, a biting satire that recounts with extraordinary power the final illness and death of a bourgeois lawyer. In his Introduction Andrew Kahn explores Tolstoy's moral concerns and the stylistic features of these late stories, sensitively translated by Nicolas Pasternak Slater. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, and educated privately. He studied Oriental languages and law at the University of Kazan, then led a life of pleasure until 1851 when he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus. He took part in the Crimean War and after the defence of Sebastopol he wrote The Sebastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his reputation. After a period in St Petersburg and abroad, where he studied educational methods for use in his school for peasant children in Yasnaya Polyana, he married Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862. The next fifteen years was a period of great happiness; they had thirteen children, and Tolstoy managed his vast estates in the Volga Steppes, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). A Confession (1879-82) marked a spiritual crisis in his life; he became an extreme moralist and in a series of pamphlets after 1880 expressed his rejection of state and church, indictment of the weaknesses of the flesh and denunciation of private property. His teaching earned him numerous followers at home and abroad, but also much opposition, and in 1901 he was excommuincated by the Russian Holy Synod. He died in 1910, in the course of a dramamtic flight from home, at the small railway station of Astapovo.