Tolstoy's novella offers a penetrating examination of the Christian faith and the nature of life and death. Listeners will also be sure to delight in Tolstoy's sharp and sometimes satirical eye for the very modern-sounding details of the life of a nineteenth-century Russian bureaucrat. With masterful ease, a warm tone, and conversational pacing, British actor Oliver Davies captures Ivan Ilyich's preoccupation with interior decorating and debt and his avoidance of family weddings and home remedies. Then the shadow of death wipes away all trivialities and pretense. This work's prose and performance are so vivid, so human, and so listenable that there's no doubt why Tolstoy stands as one of the giants of world literature.
The subject of this well-known Tolstoy novella is a high court judge in St. Petersburg who lives a carefree life. One day, without warning, he is beset by pains and soon has to come to terms with the fact that he is going to die. The judge has to learn to face death without fear and yet feel compassion for the family he is leaving behind.
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The death of Prince Andre in War and Peace and the death of Levin's brother in Anna Karenina are among the most memorable scenes depicting death in world literature. But in this short novella Tolstoy surpasses his earlier achievements in the unflinching portrayal of the death of a self-satisfied public official. Satire on the inauthenticity of most ordinary existence is joined with acute psychological insight into the effect that death has both on the dying person and on those around him.
I remember the overwhelming impact reading Tolstoy's story had when I first read it as an adolescent many years ago. Now from a very different perspective this superb reading by Oliver Ford Davies is no less powerful : throughout he judges the tone and variety of Tolstoy's writing with great intelligence and insight and has the dramatic ability to convey the author's insight into both major and minor characters. Such a reading provides effectively constant illumination into the text and the total effect is most moving. There are a number of readings of this work but I am sure this is the one to have. Strongly recommended.
I can only hope that Naxos will employ Oliver Ford Davies to read Master and Man,Hadji Murat, the Kreutzer Sonata,etc.
"Interesting and kept me curious"
I don't like to read but this book I was actually able to finish. Audible made it more interesting with the narration and expressions in each characters voice.
The story about living, why we live? Are we living for the right reasons? What are the stages of death? It seems so painful after reading this. I'm so afraid of dying!
The reader was excellent. It helped to get through the heaviness of the text. Recommended reading.
The reader captures the humor and irony of the suffocating social norms that defeat and eventually enlighten Ivan. His voice has lots of twists and turns. The musical interludes were lovely too. A great audiobook.
This book is an incredible story dealing with life and death. It really shines light on the matter of death. Tolstoy's writing is truly a piece of art and the narration is on point with the tone of the writing. Would listen to again!
"A beautiful tale."
Leo Tolstoy writes beautiful stories that explain his concerns about what society believes to be important.
This narrator brought the tale out of the pages of a book and gave a compelling voice to this story. Exceptional!
I will listen again.
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