This is my first read of the Back to the Classics, 2019. This is also one of the books I’m reading with Kim. As you see, I read this in Spanish. I’ve had this book since 1993, when I bought it and read it for the first time. No wonder I didn’t remember having read it!
Notice how in Spanish we write Ilich and Tolstoi, while in English it’s Ilych and Tolstoy. Why?, I don’t know. Please tell if you do.
This is my pick for the novella category of the challenge. As it happens, this is a truly short book, 86 pages approximately. My book is 188 pages, and since it only has this title on the cover, I thought all the 188 were The Death of Ivan Ilych. It’s not, it’s three short stories in one, the other two are The Devil, and Father Sergius, which I may may end up reading as well.
It’s a powerful novella. What can I say about Tolstoy, having only read Anna Karenina once, and this short story? It’s my intention to pick War and Peace as my long novel. Maybe for 2020? And I can add that this short read reminded me why I’m one of the millions of readers who loves the inextinguishable and inexhaustible Russian literature genre. My reading year is always a better year when I read the Russians. I guess I’m finding out why last year my reads were not as satisfying and exciting as the year before, -I didn’t read any books by Russian authors-.
This year has had a fabulous beginning. The books I am finishing in January which I started in 2018, were amazing. This first pick was superb. (I can’t think of the last book Kim and I read that we both, -or one of us-, didn’t like. I must say that if we start one we don’t like, we quit. So, yes, we’ve abandoned two books, Silence by Endo, and To the Lighthouse, by Woolf. I’m supposed to be reviewing The Death of Ivan Ilych, -ahem-, but if you want to know why I quit these books, you can ask me in the comments.
The questions of what’s a happy life like, a successful life, an honorable life, -and are those inclusive or exclusive?-, what’s a life worth living, are all explored in depth in just a few pages. And the themes of perspective, time, childhood, adulthood, marriage, love, taking care of the sick, the inconvenience of dying. Pain. To tell you more would not be fair. At 86 pages, and with free access in the public domain and in many different languages, what are you waiting for?