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THE COMPLETE WORKS OF
DEATH OF IVAN ILICH .
DRAMATIC WORKS 2 THE
KREUTZER SONATA 2
B, COUNT LE\ N. TOLSTOY
Tr.ari.l.lied Iron, Ibl- Oner,cn.-l Russian and Edited by
LEO \\ IENER
M*i.;ir.i Pr,1l.:[.:,r ,. ,1 ~ 1 ;-,, u .ges at Harvard University
BOSTON DANA ESTES &
EDITION DE LUXE
Limited to One Thousand Copies,
of which this is
N o.....4...1 .
By DANA ESTES & COMPANY
Entered at Stationers' Hall
Colonial Press : Electrotyped and Printed by
C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, Mass., U. S. A.
THri P,'irF.r. .',F LD.E N hEI . . . N.
A cI I. . .. .
ACT II. 1'0
V At .I \N.T . . 1".'1
THE FPUIT-S i:i EN ll.$ ITENFIt NT . . 1-7
ACT I. .ll
ACT II. . . . . -31
ACT III. . ...
AcT .. -57
T ill. i-' T/F-'F. ,S' A l . . . ..
EjILL.uUE Io I .L I.ELTZLEr SuNAI. . .
ON TIE RELATION BETWEEN THE SEXES .437
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"'I WILL WORK MYSELF'" (See page 123) Frontispiecs
"'I DECLARE! SHE WON'T LET ME PAT HER. WHAT IS
THE MATTER WITH YOU?'" .88
"'WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU INSANE?'". 154
"'GOD IS THE MAIN THING, GOD!" 183
"THE PEASANTS PICK UP THE PRESENTS AND STRIKE AN
"'DO YOU KNOW WHY HE IS SO FRIGHTENED ? I WILL
TELL YOU WHY : HE HAS A LOT OF MONEY'' 249
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
IN the large building of the curt institutions, during a
piaune in th,: -:rie f the MLielvinckis, the associates and the
p.ri:-.e':uting att-:rney niet in the .:alinet of Iv6n Eg6rovich
Shle-k, .and tat.ed a o:'L:ve:.rsati:,n ,:n the famous Kras6v-
Asi :ast.. FI.ir Vaiillu li. grew excited, proving that it
was nut u .iject te:e their juriidiction. Ivin Eg6rovich
stu-ck tto hi (u.pini'on, while Pa'te IvAnovich, who had not
entere-d iuto thli di,- u: i'e:n fr.oim the start, took no part in
it, and l,:.b:ked through th.u : t':.,. which had been handed
t GI.ntlemein," he said. -' Iv\ni Il.:h is dead."
Is it p:ssille ? "
i Here, re:d it," he anid t.:. FCdor Vasilevich, giving
lim the: fi.:sh-smellin nuDibl:l"r I:,f the newspaper.
Within a l.a Ik I,:,rder wa? the fol lowing announcement:
. Pra'skIevya Fdurer.ivna G(:l:T..viIn v-ith sincere sorrow in-
firn, s her relative-s .in ac.quaintianc.s of the demise of her
e.-l:ved bhus.aud, Iv.-n Ilibh I-:l:vin, aise:iate member of
the .-juTrt,, wvhic:h Lt:oo:k place ein Ft.:-ruary 4th of this year,
18821. The ftaneil will ile :iuo Friday,at one o'clock P. M."
Ivdn Ili,:L was an as.:.,:,iate? :o the gentlemen assembled,
and they !;ialel loved him. I Le had been ill for several
weeks it was sai,'. that hi. di.:ease; was incurable. His
p,,t was left ':[.pen for him, Iut. it was rumoured that in
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILIC(I
case of his death Aleksy6ev would probably be appointed
in his place, and that Vinnikov or Shtabel would get
Aleksydev's place. Therefore, upon hearing about Ivin
Ilich's death, the first thought of every one of the gen-
tlemen collected in the cabinet was as to the signifi-
cance which this death might have on the chbugre >..r
promotions of the associates themselves or of their h diuiJ'.
Now I shall no doubt get Shtdbel's place *:.r Vinmi-
kov's," thought F4dor Vasilevich. "I was prone! iz,:l I hat
long ago, and this promotion will mean for me e;L bt hun-
dred roubles increase, in addition to the chancery."
I must now ask for the transfer of my brother-in-law
from Kahiga," thought Peter Ivanovich. My wife will
be very glad. She will no longer be able to say that I
am not doing anything for her relatives."
"I never thought he would get up again," Peter Ivano-
vich said, aloud. I am sorry."
"What was the matter with him, anyway?"
"The doctors could not make it out. That is, they did,
but each of them differently. When I saw him the last
time, I thought he was getting better."
"And here I have not called on him since the holidays.
I was meaning to all the time."
Well, did he have any estate ?"
"I think his wife has a little something, but nothing
of any consequence."
"Yes, I shall have to go there; but they have been
living a terrible distance away."
That is, from your house. From your house every-
thing is a distance away."
"You really cannot forgive me for living on the other
side of the river," Peter Ivanovich said, smiling at Sh4bek.
And they began to talk of the extent of the city distances,
;and went back to the court session.
In addition to the reflections evoked in each of t]bhu I.v
,this death about the transpositions and possible clihaL.gg-:
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
in the service likely to happen in consequence of it, the
v.:ry fact of the death of a close friend evoked in all those
who heard of it, as it always does, a feeling of joy because
it wa~ Ivan Ilich who had died and not they.
-' How is this? It is he who is dead, and not I," each
-*f them thought or felt.
But the close acquaintances, Ivan Ilich's so-called
ftri.-n.5, involuntarily thought also of this, that now they
w0:il.1 have to perform some very tedious duties of pro-
priety and go to the mass and call on the widow to express
Hi nearest friends were F6dor Vasilevich and Peter
P.t.r Iv&novich had been his schoolmate while studying
I w, and considered himself under obligation to Ivan Ilich.
At dinner Peter Iv6novich gave his wife the news of
Ivlin Ilich's death, and his reflections as to the possibility
of:t hi brother-in-law's transfer to their circuit, and, with-
i,:,t lying down to rest himself, he put on his dress coat
and drove to Ivin Ilich's house.
At the entrance to Ivan Ilich's apartments stood a car-
riage and two cabs. Down-stairs, in the antechamber,
near the hat-rack, and leaning against the wall, stood a
tinselled coffin-lid with its tassels and burnished gallons.
Two ladies in black were taking off their fur coats. One
of them, Ivin Ilich's sister, he knew; the other was a
stranger to him. Peter Ivanovich's friend, Schwarz, was
coming down-stairs, and, seeing the newcomer from the
upper step, he stopped and winked to him, as if to say:
"Ivan Ilich has managed things stupidly; you and I
fixed things better."
Schwarz's face with its English side-whiskers and his
'whole lean figure in the dress coat had, as always, an
elegant solemnity about them, and this solemnity, which
always contradicted Schwarz's character of playfulness,
had here its particular salt. So Peter Ivinovich thought.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCH
Peter Ivinovich allowed the ladies to precede him, and
followed them up the staircase. Schwarz did not start to
go down, but stopped up-stairs. Peter Ivanovich knew
why he did so: he evidently wanted to make an engage-
ment to play a game of vint that day. The ladies went
up-stairs to see the widow, and Schwarz, with seriously
compressed, strong lips and playful glance, with a motion
of his brows showed Peter Ivanovich to the right, to the
room where the body lay.
Peter Ivanovich entered, as is always the case, per-
plexed as to what he would have to do. One thing he
knew, and that was that under such circumstances it
would never do any harm to make the sign of the cross.
But he was not quite sure whether he ought also to make
obeisances, and so he chose the middle way: upon enter-
ing the room, he began to make the sign of the cross and
acted as though he were bowing. At the same time, as
much as the motion of his hands and of his head per-
mitted it, he surveyed the room. Two young men, one
of them a gymnasiast, he thought they were nephews,
- were leaving the room, making the sign of the cross.
An old woman stood motionless and a lady with queerly
raised brows was telling her something in a whisper. A
sexton, in a Prince Albert, a wide-awake, determined man,
was reading something in a loud voice with an expression
which excluded every contradiction; Ger6sim, a peasant
of the buffet-room, was with light steps strewing some-
thing on the floor, in front of Peter Iv6novich. As Peter
Iv6novich saw this, he at once caught the light odour of
the decomposing body.
During his last call on Ivan Ilich, Peter Iv6novich had
seen this peasant in the cabinet: he had been performing
the duty of a nurse, and Ivan Ilich was particularly fond
of him. Peter Ivanovich kept making the sign of the
cross and slightly inclined his head in a central direction
between the coffin, the sexton, and the images on the
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
table in the corner of the room. Afterward, when this
motion of making the sign of the cross with his hand
appeared to him to have lasted long enough, he stopped
and began to look at the corpse.
The dead man was lying, as all dead men lie, quite
heavily, in corpse-like fashion sinking with the stark
members of his body in the bedding of the coffin, with
an eternally bent head on a pillow, and displayed, as
corpses always do, his yellow, waxen brow with bare spots
over his sunken temples, and a towering nose which
seemed to be pressing against the upper lip. He was
very much changed and much thinner than when Peter
Ivsnovich had seen him the last time, but, as is the case with
all corpses, his face was more beautiful and, above all,
more significant than that of a living man. On his face
there was an expression of this, that what was necessary
to do had been done, and done correctly. Besides, in this
expression there was also a rebuke or reminder to the
This reminder seemed to Peter Ivanovich out of place,
or, at least, having no reference to him. For some reason
he felt ill at ease, and so hastened to cross himself again
and, as it appeared to him, too precipitously and out of
keeping with the proprieties, turned around and walked
toward the door.
Schwarz was waiting for him in a middle room, spread-
ing his legs wide, and with both his hands playing behind
his back with his silk hat. One glance at Schwarz's play-
ful, natty, and elegant figure refreshed Peter Ivanovich.
Peter Ivinovich understood that he, Schwarz, was stand-
ing above such things, and did not surrender himself to
crushing impressions. His very glance said: the inci-
dent of the mass for Ivan Ilich can by no means serve as
a sufficient reason for declaring the order of the session
disturbed, that is, that nothing could keep him that very
evening from clicking with the deck of cards after break-
8 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
ing the seal, while the lackey would place four fresh
candles on the table; altogether there was no cause for
supposing that this incident could keep them from passing
an agreeable evening. Indeed, he said so in a whisper to
Peter Ivanovich as he passed by, proposing that they meet
for the game at the house of F4dor Vasilevich. But it
was apparently not Peter Ivdnovich's fate to have a game
of vint that evening. Prask6vya F4dorovna, an under-
sized, fat woman, who, in spite of all efforts to the
contrary, had been expanding all the time downward from
the shoulders, dressed in black, with her head covered
with lace, and with the same upturned brows as those
of the lady who was standing at the coffin, came out of
her apartments with other ladies and, taking them to the
door of the room where the dead man lay, said: "The
mass will be read at once. Pass in."
Schwarz made an indefinite bow and stopped, evidently
neither accepting nor declining the offer. When Pras-
k6vya F6dorovna recognized Peter Iv6novich, she sighed,
went up close to him, took his hand, and said : "I know
that you were a true friend to Ivan Ilich," and looked at
him, expecting from him an action which would corre-
spond to these words. Peter Ivanovich knew that, as it
was necessary there to make the sign of the cross, so here
it was necessary to press her hand, to sigh, and to say:
"Believe me!" And so he did. Having done it, he felt
that the desired result was achieved: both he and she
Come with me : before it begins there, I have to talk
with you," said the widow. Give me your arm."
Peter Iv6novich gave her his arm, and they went to the
inner apartments, past Schwarz, who gave Ivan Ilich a
"There goes the vint! You must not be angry with
us if we choose another partner. If you get off, we may
play a five-handed game," said his playful glance.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
Peter Iv:irn.\i:h sighed more deeply and more sadly
still. andl I'r.-k.\'vy. F6dorovna pressed his hand grate-
fully. UT.,".'n entering her drawing-room, which was
papered with pink cretonne and was illuminated by a
dU-n hia p, they sat down at the table, -she on a divan,
andl Peter Iv.iilvi,.h on a pouffe with crushed springs and
rui'?'.ely yielding seat. Prask6vya F6dorovna was on
the p,:.iot :t' :autio.ning him and asking him to take
anO,:ther -eat, i.ult f:'iind this cautioning incompatible with
her I.re.ent ,.:,uditii:n, and so changed her mind.
Seat i. L i m elf ':i a this pouffe, Peter Ivanovich recalled
hi.:'. Iv;u L li.:h haL. appointed this room and had con-
suhe.l himir in reg.r1t to this very pink cretonne with its
greeu leave-. A;. the widow, on her way to seat herself,
'p.i-e:l by the tile (the drawing-room was altogether too
full :.t tridfls andl of furniture), the black lace of her black
mitntill.ia i:ught ":n the carving of the table. Peter IvAno-
vich rais'l hiw.-elf in order to disentangle it, and the
liberated poutte began to agitate under him and to push
him. The widow began to free her lace herself, and Peter
Ivanovich sat down again, choking the riotous pouffe.
But the widow did not free the lace entirely, and Peter
Ivanovich raised himself again, and again the pouffe be-
came agitated and even clicked. When all this was
ended, she took out her clean cambric handkerchief and
began to weep. But Peter Ivinovich was cooled off by
the episode with the lace and by the struggle with the
pouffe, and sat scowling. This awkward situation was
interrupted by Sokol6v, Ivan Ilich's butler, who came to
report that the lot in the cemetery which Prask6vya
F4dorovna had chosen would cost two hundred roubles.
She stopped weeping and, looking at Peter Ivdnovich with
the glance of a victim, said in French that it was very
hard for her. Peter Ivanovich made a silent sign, which
expressed unquestionable assurance that that could not be
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
"Do smoke, if you please," she said, in a magnanimous
and at the same time crushed voice, and proceeded to
busy herself with Sokolov concerning the price of the lot.
Peter Ivanovich heard, while starting to smoke, how she
inquired very circumstantially about the different prices
of the land and settled on the lot which she was going to
take. Having finished about the lot, she also made her
arrangements about the singers. Sokol6v went away.
I do everything myself," she said to Peter Ivanovich,
pushing aside the albums which were lying on the ta-
ble, and, observing that the ashes were threatening the
table, she without delay moved up the ash-tray to Peter
Ivanovich, and said: "I consider it a bit of hypocrisy to
assure people that my grief prevents me from attending
to practical matters. On the contrary, if there is any-
thing which can, not console, but distract me, it is the
cares concerning him." She again drew out her handker-
chief, as though getting ready to cry, and suddenly, as
though overcoming herself, she shook herself, and began
to speak calmly. But I want to ask you about a certain
Peter Ivanovich made a bow, without permitting the
springs of the pouffe, which began to stir under him, to
-" The last three days he suffered terribly."
Suffered terribly ? asked Peter Ivinovich.
"Oh, terribly The last minutes, nay hours, he never
stopped crying. It was unbearable. I cannot understand
how I stood it; you could hear him three rooms off. Oh,
what I have endured !"
"And was he really in his right mind ?" asked Peter
"Yes," she whispered, to the last minute. He bade
us good-bye within fifteen minutes of his death, and also
asked us to take Vol6dya away."
The thought of the suffering of this man, whom he had
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCHI
known so closely, at first as a merry boy, as his school-
mate, and later, when he was grown, as his partner,
suddenly terrified him, in spite of the disagreeable con-
sciousness of his hypocrisy and of that of the woman. He
again saw that brow and that nose which pressed against
the lip, and he felt terribly for himself.
Three days of frightful suffering, and death. Why,
this may happen to me now, any minute," he thought,
and for a moment he felt terribly. But immediately, he
did not know himself how, the habitual thought occurred
to him that this had happened to Ivin Ilich, and not to
him, and that this should not and could not happen
to him; that if he thought in this manner, he submitted to
a gloomy mood, which he ought not to do, as was evident
from Schwarz's face. Having reflected thus, Peter Ivino-
vich calmed himself and interestedly inquired about the
details of Ivan Ilich's end, as though death was an acci-
dent which was peculiar to Ivan Ilich but by no means to
After many details of the really terrible physical suffer-
ings which Ivin Ilich had endured (these details Peter
Ivinovich learned only from the way these torments of
Ivin Ilich affected the nerves of Prask6vya F4dorovna),
the widow apparently found it necessary to pass over to
Oh, Peter Ivinovich, it is so hard, so terribly hard,
so terribly hard !" and she started weeping again.
Peter Ivanovich sighed and waited for her to clear her
nose. When she had done so, he said, Believe me and
she became again voluble and made a clear breast of what
evidently was her chief business with him. This business
consisted in questions as to how to obtain money from the
go:veriiml tiL on the occasion of her husband's death. She
made it appear as though she were asking Peter Ivano-
vich's advice in regard to the pension; but he saw that
she knew down to the minutest details, what he did not
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
know, what could be got out of the government in con-
sequence of this death, but that she wanted to find out if
it were not possible in some way to get a little more
money out of it. Peter Ivanovich tried to discover a
means to do so, but, after reflecting a little and out of
propriety scolding our government for its stinginess,
he said that he thought that nothing more could be got
from it.( Thereupon she sighed and obviously was-trying
to find a means for ridding herself of her visitors He
understood this, and so put out his cigarette, pressed her
hand, and went into the antechamber.
In the dining-room with a clock, to which Ivan Ilich
had taken such a fancy that he had purchased it in a
bric-h-brac shop, Peter IvAnovich met a priest and a few
acquaintances who had come to be present at the mass,
and saw IvAn Ilich's daughter, a pretty young lady, with
whom he was acquainted. She had a gloomy, determined,
almost angry look. She bowed to Peter Iv6novich, as
though he were guilty of something. Back of the daugh-
ter stood, with the same offended look, a wealthy young
man, an examining magistrate and an acquaintance of
Peter IvAnovich, who, as he had heard, was her fiance.
He bowed dejectedly and was on the point of passing
into the room of the dead man, when from under the
staircase appeared the small form of a gymnasiast, Ivan
Ilich's son, who resembled his father terribly. This was
little Ivan Ilich, such as Peter Ivanovich remembered him
in the law school. His eyes were small and such as one
generally sees in impure boys of thirteen or fourteen
years of age. Upon noticing Peter Iv6novich, the boy
began to frown sternly and shamefacedly. Peter IvAno-
vich nodded to him, and entered the room of the dead
man. The mass began, and there were the candles,
groans, incense, tears, sobs. Peter Ivanovich stood frown-
ing, looking at his feet in front of him. He did not once
cast a glance on the dead man, and did not to the end
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
Eu.-_,_uwb t the dissolving influences, and was one of the
fir't to l:,v. the room. There was no one in the ante-
cihiami:.er. 'erasim, the peasant of the buffet-room, leaped
out ifr:.m the room of the deceased man, and with his
p,:w:erfiul bh ds rummaged among all the fur coats, in order
t, tiu.l the .:.ue which belonged to Peter Ivanovich and
whi.:b hbe banded to him.
.. \\'ll, friend Gerasim ? said Peter Ivanovich, to be
s.iy.lug' sni,-thing. Are you sorry ?"
It i G:o.l's will. We shall all of us be there," said
Gt-ia -i playingg his white, solid peasant teeth; like
a man in the heat of intense work, he opened the door
in lively fashion, called the coachman, helped Peter Ivano-
vich in, and jumped back to the porch, as though consider-
ing what else he had to do.
It was especially pleasant for Peter Ivanovich to
breathe the pure air, after the odour of incense, of the
dead body, and of carbolic acid.
Whither do you command me to drive you ?" asked
"It is not yet late,- I will make a call on F4dor
And Peter Ivanovich departed. He indeed found
them at the end of the first rubber, so that it was conve-
nient for him to come in as the fifth.
IvAN ILICH'S past life was simple and most common,
and yet most terrible.
Ivin Ilich died at the age of forty-five years, as a mem-
ber of the court of justice. He was the son of an official
who had in various ministries and departments of St.
Petersburg made that career which brings people to that
state from which, though it becomes evident to them that
they are no good for the performance of any essential duty,
they none the less cannot be expelled, both on account
of their long past service and their ranks, and so re-
ceive imaginary, fictitious places, and non-fictitious thou-
sands, from six to ten, with which they live to a good old
Such had been the privy councillor, the useless member
of all kinds of useless establishments, IlyL Efimovich
He had three sons: Ivan Ilfch was his second; the
eldest had made a similar career to that of his father,
only in a different ministry, and was rapidly approaching
that official age when one attains that inertia of salary.
The third son was a failure. He had continuously ruined
himself in various places, and was now serving with thr.
railways, and his father and his brothers, but especially
their wives, not only disliked meeting him, but without
some extreme need did not even mention his existence.
His sister was married to Baron Gref, a St. Petersburg
official like his father-in-law.
Ivan Ilich was le phinix de la famille," as they said.
He was not as cold and as precise as the elder, and not
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCH
as desperate as the younger. He was intermediate be-
tween them, a clever, lively, agreeable, and decent man.
He attended the department of law together with his
younger brother. The younger brother did not graduate,
and was expelled in his fifth year, while Ivan Ilich
graduated high in his class. Even while studying law
he was what he was later, during his whole life,--a
capable, jolly, and affable man, who none the less strictly
carried out what he considered to be his duty; and he
considered his duty that which was so considered by men
in the higher spheres. -Neither as a boy nor as a grown
man did he curry favour with any one, but from his
earliest youth he tended, like a fly to the light, to men
who occupied the highest positions in the world, adopted
their manner and their views of life, and established
friendly relations with them. All the distractions of
childhood and youth had passed for him without leaving
any great traces; he abandoned himself to sensuality and
ambition, and toward the end to the liberalism of the
higher classes, but all this within certain limits which his
feeling indicated to him correctly.
He had committed acts, while studying law, which had
presented themselves to him as great abominations and
had inspired him with contempt for himself at the time
that he had committed them, but later, when he observed
that such acts were also committed by distinguished per-
sonages and were not considered to be bad, he, without
acknowledging them to be good, completely forgot them
and was by no means grieved at the thought of them.
Having graduated from the law school in the tenth
class and having received from his father money with
which to provide himself with clothes, Ivan Ilich ordered
them at Charmeur's, attached to his fob a small medal
with the inscription, Bespice filnem," bade good-bye to
the prince and to his tutor, dined with his companions
at Donon's, and with new trunk, underwear, clothes,
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICI1
shaving and toilet appurtenances, ni.l plaidl, All of them
ordered and bought in the best bh:.p'. ,lparte'l for the
province to take the place of an olthi.lal -n Ih" e:,.v'en-ir's
special business, which his father haid i'rc..uie i .:r hum.
In the province Ivin Ilich at oinc. .a;nII;geLa thi:- duame
easy and pleasant position for himself that lih ha.l .I ,uj:yel
in the law school. He served, made a :irt-er r himse-lf,
and at the same time passed his time- .pl.a-autly a:n.,
decently; now and then he journeyed I'- the i:.-niLti-t at
the command of the authorities, bore him-elf nith Ji-niity
both toward those who stood above himiu fn, thl- who
stood beneath him, and with precision and incorruptible
honesty, which he could not help but be proud of, carried
out the business entrusted to him, especially in matters
of the dissenters.
In matters of his service he was, in spite of his youth
and proneness to light merriment, extremely reserved,
official, and even severe; but in matters of society he was
often playful and witty, and always good-hearted, decent,
and a bon enfant," as was said of him by his chief and
his chief's wife, at whose house he was a close friend.
There was also in the province a liaison with one of
the ladies, who obtruded herself on the dandyish jurist;
and there was a modiste, and drinking bouts with visiting
aids-de-camp, and drives to a distant street after supper;
there was also a subserviency to the chief, and even to the
wife of the chief, but all this bore upon itself such an
elevated tone of decency that it could not be called by
any bad words: it all only fitted in with the French
saying, II faut que jeunesse se passe." Everything took
place with clean hands, in clean shirts, with French words,
and, above all else, in the very highest society, con-
sequently with the approval of most distinguished persons.
Thus Ivan Ilich served for five years, and a change
was made in the service. There appeared new institutions
of law, and new men were needed.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH 17
Iv:iN Ill.:1 became such a new man.
I\;1 Ili'ch was offered the place of examining magis-
trate., .nd :l:.:epted it, although this place was in another
G.:,v'rinntlul and it became necessary for him to give up
th- e.-s:il.,lih.d relations and establish new ones. Ivin
Il kh w-,, etn off by his friends, a group was formed, a
silve-r _i. irtte case was presented to him, and he departed
f,:r thb- n-ew place.
I:'.-; Ili.:l was the same comme ilfaut, decent examin-
ing ,uii.trate, who knew how to separate his official
duti-,: fr...u his private life and who inspired general
,cp.,:c, ithalit tie had been as an official on special business.
ThLe ip":'t o:,f the examining magistrate itself presented
much more interest and attraction to him than the one
he had formerly held. In his former office it had been a
pleasure to him with an easy gait, and wearing Charmeur's
undress uniform, to pass by the trembling petitioners,
who were waiting for an audience, and by the official
people, who envied him, and to enter directly the chief's
private room and sit down with him at tea while smoking
a cigarette, but there had been but few people who were
directly dependent on his will. Such people had been
chiefs of rural police and dissenters, whenever he was
sent out on some special business; and he had been fond
of treating such people, who were dependent on him,
politely, almost chummily, and of making them feel that
he, who might crush them, was treating them in a friendly
and simple manner. There had been but few such people.
But now, while he was an examining magistrate, Ivan
Ilich felt that all, all without exception, the most im-
portant and most self-satisfied people, were in his hands,
and that he needed only to write certain words on a paper
with a certain heading, when such an important, self-
satisfied man would be brought to him in the capacity of
defendant or witness, who, if he had no mind to let him
sit down, would stand before him and answer his ques-
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
tions. Ivan Ilich never misused this power and, on the
contrary, tried to mitigate its expression; but the con-
sciousness of this power and the possibility of mitigating
it formed for him the chief interest and attraction of his
new service. In the service itself, more especially in
his examinations, he very soon acquired the manner of
removing from himself all those circumstances which had
nothing to do with the service, and of simplifying every
extremely complicated matter to a form which would
permit the matter to be reflected merely externally on
paper, and which completely excluded his personal view
and, above all, made it possible to observe the whole
necessary formality. This was a new business, and he
was one of the first men who in practice worked out the
application of the statutes of the year 1864.
On arriving in the new city, in the capacity of examin-
ing magistrate, Ivan Ilich made new acquaintances and
connections, arranged matters for himself anew, and as-
sumed a somewhat different tone. He placed himself
in a certain dignified aloofness from the provincial author-
ities, chose the best circle consisting of members of the
legal profession and of the wealthy gentry who lived in
the city, and assumed a tone of slight dissatisfaction with
the government, of moderate liberalism, and of cultured
civism. Besides this, Ivan Ilich, though making no
change in the elegance of his toilet, in this new office
stopped shaving his chin and permitted his beard to grow
as it listed.
In this new city Ivan Ilich's life again arranged itself
in a most agreeable manner: the society which found
fault with the governor was jolly and pleasant, the salary
was larger, and not a small degree of pleasure was at that
time added by the whist which Ivan Ilich began to play,
being possessed of the ability of playing cards merrily,
and reflecting rapidly and very shrewdly, so that on the
whole he was always winning.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
After two years of service in the new city, Ivan Ilich
met his future wife. Praskdvya Fedorovna Mikhel was
the most attractive, clever, and brilliant girl of the circle
in which he moved. Among the other amusements and
relaxations from the labours of the examining magistrate,
Ivan Ilich established playful, light relations with Pras-
Iv6n Ilich had been in the habit of dancing while he
was an official on special business ; but being an examin-
ing magistrate, he danced only as an exception. He now
danced in this sense that, though he was serving in the
new institutions and belonged to the fifth class, he could
prove, when it came to dancing, that in this line he was
better than anybody else. Thus he occasionally danced
with Prask6vya F6dorovna toward the end of the evening,
and mainly during these dances conquered her. She fell
in love with him. He did not have any clear and defi-
nite intention of getting married, but when the girl fell
in love with him, he put this question to himself: "In-
deed, why can't I get married ?"
Miss Prask6vya F4dorovna belonged to a good family
of the gentry, and she had some little property. Ivan
Ilich could count on a more brilliant match, but this one
was not bad, either. Iv6n Ilich had his salary, and she, so
he hoped, would have as much again. It was a good
alliance; she was a sweet, pretty, and absolutely decent
woman. To say that Ivin Ilich married because he loved
his fiancee and found in her a sympathetic relation to his
views of life would be as unjust as saying that he married
because the people of his society approved of the match.
Ivan Ilich married for two reasons: he was doing some-
thing agreeable for himself in acquiring such a wife, and
at the same time did what people in high positions re-
garded as regular.
And so Ivan Ilich got married.
The process of marrying itself and the first period of
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
his marital life, with the conjugal affection, new furniture,
new dishes, new linen, passed very well until his wife's
pregnancy, so that he began to think that his marriage
would not only not impair that character of the easy,
agreeable, merry, and always decent life, which was ap-
proved of by society and which he regarded as peculiar to
life in general, but that it would even intensify it. But
beginning with the first month of his wife's pregnancy,
there appeared something new, unexpected, disagreeable,
oppressive, and indecent, which it had been impossible to
expect, and impossible to get rid of.
Without the least provocation, as it seemed to Ivdn
Ilich, "de gaiti de cceur," as he said to himself, his wife
began to impair the pleasure and decency of life: she was
without any cause jealous of him, demanded his atten-
tions, nagged him in everything, and made disagreeable
and vulgar scenes with him.
At first Iv6n Ilich hoped to free himself from the un-
pleasantness of this situation by means of that same light
and decorous relation to life which had helped him out
before; he tried to ignore his wife's disposition and con-
tinued to live lightly and agreeably, as before: he invited
his friends to his house, to have a game, and tried himself
to go to the club or to his friends; but his wife one day
began with such energy to apply vulgar words to him, and
continued so stubbornly to scold him every time that he
did not comply with her demands, having apparently
determined not to stop until he should submit, that is,
should stay at home and experience tedium like herself,
that he became frightened. He comprehended that mari-
tal life, at least with his wife, did not always contribute
to the pleasures and the decency of life, but on the con-
*trary frequently violated them, and that, therefore, it was
necessary for him to defend himself against these viola-
tions. Ivdn Ilich began to look for means for this. His
:service was the one thing which impressed Prask6vya
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH 21
F4dorovna, and Ivan Ilich began by means of his service
and the duties resulting from it to struggle with his wife,
hedging in his independent world.
With the birth of a child, with the attempts at nursing
it and the various failures in this matter, with the real
and imaginary diseases of the child and of the mother,
when Ivwn Ilich's cooperation was demanded, though he
was unable to comprehend a thing about these matters,
the necessity for hedging in his world outside his family
became more imperative for him.
In measure as his wife became more irritable and more
exacting, Ivan Ilich more and more transferred the centre
of his life into his service. He began to love his service
more and grew to be more ambitious than he had been.
Very soon, not more than a year after his marriage,
Ivin Ilich understood that marital life, though it pre-
sented certain comforts of life, in reality was a very
complex and difficult matter, in relation to which, in
order to perform one's duty, that is, to lead a decent life,
which is approved by society, it was necessary to work
out a certain relation, just as in the case of the service.
And Ivan Ilich worked out such a relation to the
marital life. He demanded from his domestic life noth-
ing but those comforts of a home dinner, of the hostess,
of the bed, which she could give him, and, above all, that
decency of external forms which were determined by
public opinion. In everything else he sought merry
enjoyment and decency, and he was thankful when he
found them. Whenever he met with opposition and
grumbling, he immediately withdrew to the separate world
of his service, in which he hedged himself in and found
Ivin Ilich was esteemed as a good official, and after
three years he was made associate prosecuting attorney.
His new duties, their importance, the possibility of sum-
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCH
morning to court and incarcerating any person, the pub-
licity of the speeches, the success which Ivan Ilich had
in this matter, all this attracted him more and more to
There came a succession of children. His wife became
more irritable and grumbled more and more, but his rela-
tions to domestic life, as worked out by him, made him
almost impermeable to her irritability.
After seven years of serving in one city, Ivin Ilich was
transferred to another Government in the capacity of
prosecuting attorney. They moved; they had little
money, and his wife did not like the place to which they
moved. Though his salary was larger than before, the
living was more expensive; besides, two of the children
died, and so the domestic life became even more disa-
greeable for Ivan Ilich.
Praskdvya F6dorovna reproached her husband for all
mishaps in this their new place of abode. The majority
of the subjects of conversation between husband and wife,
especially the education of the children, led to questions
which recalled former quarrels, and quarrels were ready
to burst forth at any moment. There remained only
those rare periods of amorousness which came over the
two, but did not last long. Those were islets where they
anchored for awhile, but they soon set out again into the
sea of hidden enmity, which found its expression in their
mutual alienation. This alienation might have grieved
Ivan Ilich, if he had thought that this ought not to be so;
but he now recognized this situation not only as normal,
but even as the aim of his activity in the family. His
aim consisted in freeing himself more and more from
these unpleasantnesses and giving them the character
of innocuousness and decency; and this he obtained by
passing less and less time with his family, and when he
was compelled to be with them, he tried to make his
position secure by the presence of third parties.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
But the chief thing was his service. The whole inter-
est of life centred for him in the official world. This
interest absorbed him. The consciousness of his power,
"of the possibility of ruining any man he wanted to ruin,
his importance with his inferiors, even externally, upon
entering court or meeting them elsewhere, his success be-
fore his superiors and his subordinates, and, above all, the
mastery with which he conducted his cases, of which he
was conscious, all this gave him pleasure, and with his
conversations with friends, and with dinners and whist,
filled his life. Thus, in general, Ivan Ilich's life con-
tinued to run as he thought that it ought to run,--
agreeably and decently.
Thus he lived another seven years. His eldest daugh-
ter was now sixteen years old; another child had died,
and there was left a boy, a gymnasiast, the subject of their
contentions. Ivan Ilich wanted to send him to a law
school, but Prask6vya F6dorovna, to spite him, sent the
boy to a gymnasium. The daughter studied at home and
grew well, and the boy, too, studied not badly.
THUS Ivan Ilich's life had run for seventeen years from
the time of his marriage. He was now an old prosecut-
ing attorney, who had declined several transfers in the
expectation of a more desirable place, when suddenly
there happened a disagreeable circumstance which com-
pletely upset the calm of his life. Ivan Ilich was waiting
for the place of presiding judge in a university city; but
G6ppe somehow got ahead of him, and received that place.
Iv6n Ilich was annoyed at this, began to make reproaches,
and quarrelled with him and with the nearer authorities;
they grew cold to him, and at the next appointment he
was again left out.
That happened in the year 1880. That year was the
most difficult one in Ivan Ilich's life. In that year it
appeared that, on the one hand, the salary was not large
enough to live on, and that, on the other, all had for-
gotten him, and that what in relation to him appeared to
him as the greatest and most cruel injustice, to others
appeared as an entirely common affair. Even his father
did not consider it his duty to help him. He felt that
all had abandoned him, considering his situation with
thirty-five hundred roubles salary most normal and even
fortunate. He alone knew that, with the consciousness
of those cases of injustice which had been done him, and
with the eternal nagging of his wife, and with the debts
which he had begun to make, since he was living beyond
his means, -he alone knew that his situation was far
from being normal.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
To economize, he took that summer a leave of absence
and went with his wife to pass the summer in the country
with Praskdvya FNdorovna's brother.
In the country without his service, Ivan Ilich for the
first time experienced not only tedium, but also intoler-
able despondency, and he decided that it was impossible
to live in this manner and that it was necessary to take
some decisive measures.
Ivan Ilich passed a sleepless night, during which he
walked up and down the terrace, and he decided to go to
St. Petersburg, to bestir himself, and, in order to punish
them, who had not appreciated him, to go over to another
On the next day he went to St. Petersburg, in spite of
the dissuasions of his wife and his brother-in-law.
He went there with one thing in view, to obtain
a place which would give him a salary of five thousand a
year. He no longer stuck to any ministry, political bias,
or manner of activity. All he needed was a place, a place
with five thousand, in the administration, in the banks,
with the railways, in the institutions of Empress Mary,
even in the custom-house, but it had by all means
to be five thousand, and he by all means to leave the
ministry, where they did not know how to appreciate
This journey of Iv6n Ilich was crowned by remarkable,
unexpected success. In Kursk F. S. Ilin-.:n acquaintance
of his, entered the coach of the first cla.s.,and informed
him of the contents of the latest despatch received by the
governor of Kursk, that shortly a transposition would take
place in the ministry: Ivan Seminovich was io be ap-
pointed in Peter IvAnovich's place.
The proposed transposition had, in addition to its mean-
ing for Russia, a special meaning for Ivan Ilich, for, by
bringing to the front Peter Petr6vich and, apparently, his
friend Zdkhar IvAnovich, it was extremely favourable for
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
Ivan Ilich. Zakhar Ivanovich was Ivan Ilich's school-
mate and friend.
In Moscow the news was confirmed. Upon arriving at
St. Petersburg, Ivan Ilich found Zakhar Ivanovich, from
whom he received the promise of a certain place in his
former ministry of justice.
A week later he telegraphed to his wife: "Zakhar
Miller's place, with first report I receive appointment."
Thanks to this transposition of persons, Ivan Ilich
suddenly received an appointment in his former ministry,
which advanced him two points above his comrades, and
gave him a salary of five thousand, and thirty-five hun-
dred for travelling expenses. His whole anger against
his former enemies and against the whole ministry was
forgotten, and he was quite happy.
Ivan Ilich returned to the village merry and satisfied,
as he had not been for a long time. Prask6vya F4dorovna
herself was merry, and a truce was established between
them. Ivin Ilich told of how he had been honoured in
St. Petersburg, how all those who were his enemies had
been put to shame and now were fawning before him, how
he was envied his position, and especially how much all
loved him in St. Petersburg.
Prask6vya listened to it all, and looked as though she
believed it all, and did not contradict him in anything;
she only made plans for the new arrangement of life in
the city't, which they were going to move. Ivan Ilich
saw with delight that these plans were his plans, that
they agreed ivith one another, and that his arrested life
was once more receiving the real character of merry
pleasantness and decency which was peculiar to it.
Ivan Ilich came back for but a short time. On Sep-
tember the 10th he had to enter upon his new office, and,
besides, he needed time to arrange matters in the new
place, to transfer everything from the province, to purchase
things, to order a lot more,- in short, to arrange matters
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
as they had been determined upon in his mind, and almost
in precisely the same manner as had been decided also in
Prask6vya Fedorovna's mind.
Now that everything had been arranged so successfully
and he and his wife agreed in their aims, and besides lived
so little together, they became more friendly with one
another than they had been since the first years of their
married life. Ivin Ilich intended to take his family away
at once, but the insistence of his sister and his brother-
in-law, who suddenly became unusually amiable and
familiarly interested in Ivan Ilich and his family, had this
effect, that Ivan Ilich departed by himself.
Ivdn Ilich departed, and the happy mood which was
produced by his success and the agreement with his wife,
one intensifying the other, did not leave him all the time.
He found charming quarters, precisely what husband and
wife had been dreaming of together. The large, high-
studded reception-rooms in the old style, the comfortable,
magnificent cabinet, the rooms for his wife and his daugh-
ter, the class-room for his son, everything was as if
purposely intended for them; Ivin Ilich himself attended
to their appointments: he chose the wall-paper, bought
more furniture, especially such as was old-fashioned, which
gave the aspect of a come il faut style and which he had
re-covered, and everything grew and grew, and arrived at
the ideal which he had formed for himself. When he
had half arranged matters, his arrangement surpassed his
expectations. He understood that come il faut, elegant,
and non-vulgar character which everything would assume
when it was ready.
When he fell asleep, he imagined the parlour as it would
be. As he looked at the drawing-room, which was not
yet finished, he already saw the fireplace, the screen, the
shelves, and those scattered chairs, those dishes and plates
along the walls, and the bronzes, when they should all be
set up in their proper places. He rejoiced at the thought
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCH
of how be would surprise Prask6vya and Lfzanka, who
also had good taste in such things. They were not ex-
pecting it at all. He was particularly fortunate in finding
and purchasing some old things, which gave it a peculiarly
noble aspect. In his letters he purposely represented
matters worse than they were, in order to startle them
the more. All this interested him so much that even his
new service, though he liked it, interested him less than
he had expected.
At the sessions he had minutes of absent-mindedness;
he was wondering what borders to put on the curtains,
whether to have them straight or gathered. He was so
busy with this, that he frequently bothered with it him-
self, transposed the furniture, and himself hung the cur-
tains in different places. One day he climbed a ladder in
order to show the paper-hanger how he wanted the drapery
hung; he made a misstep and fell, but, as he was a strong
and agile man, he caught himself in time, merely striking
his side against the window-frame knob. The blow hurt
a little, but this soon passed away.
Iv6n Ilich felt himself particularly happy and well dur-
ing this time. He wrote : "I feel that fifteen years have
jumped off from me." He had intended to be through
with it all in September, but it lasted until the middle of
October. But it was superb, so not only he said, but also
all those who saw it.
In reality it was the same as in the case of all not very
wealthy men, who want to be like the rich, and so only
resemble one another: there were stuffs, black wood,
flowers, rugs, and bronzes, dark and burnished, everything
which people of a certain class have in order to resemble
all people of a certain class. And everything was so
much like it in his house, that it was even impossible to
direct one's attention to it, but to him it appeared as
something quite special. When he met his family at the
railway station and brought them home to his illuminated
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
an. tfixvcl-up apartments, and a lackey in a white necktie
L:'l-:'.I1 tihe door into an antechamber which was all
adorned with flowers, and they later entered the drawing-
room and the cabinet, and went into raptures from
pleasure, he was very happy, led them around every-
where, imbibed their praises and shone with joy. On
that evening, when Prask6vya F4dorovna asked him at
tea, among other things, how he had fallen, he laughed
and impersonated to them how he flew down and fright-
ened the paper-hanger.
"That's what I am a gymnast for. Another man
would have been killed, but I barely hit myself right
here; when you touch it, it hurts, but it is all going
away; it is simply a bump."
And they began to live in their new quarters, in which,
as is always the case when people have settled down,
there was wanting just one room, and with their new
means, to which, as always, only a little, some five hun-
dred roubles, was wanting, and everything was very well.
Especially well it was at first, when things were not yet all
arranged, and it was necessary still to look after things,-
now to buy, now to order, now to transpose, now to fix
things. Though there was some disagreement between
husband and wife, both were so much satisfied, and they
had so much to do, that everything ended without any
great quarrels. When there was nothing more to arrange,
it became a little tedious and something was wanting, but
they made new acquaintances, acquired new habits, and
life was filled out.
Ivan Ilich passed the morning in the court and returned
for dinner, and at first his disposition was good, though it
suffered somewhat from the apartments. Every spot
on the table-cloth and on the upholstery, a torn cord of
the curtain, irritated him. He had put so much labour
into the arrangement of things, that every bit of destruc-
tion pained him. But, in general, Ivan Ilich's life went
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
on as according to his faith it had to run, -lightly,
agreeably, and decently. He got up at nine, drank
coffee, read the newspaper, then put on his undress uni-
form, and went to court.
Here he found the collar set in which he had to work:
he immediately found his way into it. There were
petitioners, inquiries at the chancery, the chancery itself,
the sessions, -public and administrative sessions. In
all this it was necessary to exclude everything raw and
vital, which for ever impairs the regularity of the course
of official affairs: it was necessary not to permit any
relations with people outside of official ones, and the
cause for such relations must be nothing but official, and
the relations themselves must be nothing but official.
For example, a man comes and wants to find out some-
thing. Iv6n Ilich, as a private citizen, can have no
relations with such a man; but if there exists a relation
with such a man, as to a member of the court, such a rela-
tion as can be expressed on paper with a heading, within
the limits of such relations Ivan Ilich does everything, ab-
solutely everything possible, and with this he observes the
semblance of human, amicable relations, that is, politeness.
The moment the official relation comes to an end, every
other relation is also ended. This ability to separate the
official side, without mixing it with real life, Ivan Ilich
possessed in the highest degree, and through long prac-
tice and talent he had worked it out to such a degree that
at times he permitted himself, like an artist, as though
in jest, to mix the human and the official relations. He
took this liberty, because he felt himself able always,
whenever it should be necessary, again to segregate what
was official and reject what was human.
Things went with Ivan Ilich not only easily, agreeably,
and decently, but even artistically. During pauses he
smoked, drank tea, and chatted a bit about politics, a little
about general matters, a little about cards, and most of
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
all about appointments. And he returned home tired,
but with the feeling of the artist who has finished
with precision his part, one of the first violins in the
At home the daughter and her mother were either out
calling somewhere, or they had guests; the son was in
the gymnasium, prepared his lessons with tutors, and
studied well such things as are studied in a gymnasium.
After dinner, if there were no guests, Ivin Ilich at times
read a book of which people were talking a great deal,
and in the evening sat down to attend to business, that
is, he read documents and looked into the laws, compar-
ing depositions and finding corresponding statutes. This
neither annoyed him, nor gave him pleasure. He felt
ennui when it was possible to play vint; but when there
was no vint, this was better than sitting alone or with
his wife. His pleasures consisted in small dinners, to
which he invited ladies and gentlemen who were dis-
tinguished so far as their worldly position was concerned,
and in such pastime with them as would resemble the
usual pastime of such people, just as his drawing-room
resembled all other drawing-rooms.
One time they even had an evening party, and there was
some dancing. Ivan Ilich felt happy and everything was
well, except that he had a great quarrel with his wife on
account of the cake and confectionery: Prask6vya Fedor-
ovna had her own plan, but IvAn Ilich insisted that
everything be purchased from an expensive confectioner,
and bought a lot of cake, and the quarrel was due to the
fact that the cake was left over, while the confectioner's
bill amounted to forty-five roubles. The quarrel was
great and disagreeable, so that Praskovya F6dorovna said
to him, Fool, ninny !" He clutched his head and in his
anger made some mention about divorce. But the even-
ing itself was a merry one. The best society was
present, and Ivan Ilich danced with Princess Truf6nov,
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
the sister of the one who was known through the found-
ing of the society of Carry away my grief."
The official joys were the joys of self-love; the social
joys were the joys of vanity; but Ivdn Ilich's real joys
were the joys of the game of vint. He confessed that
after everything, after any joyless incidents in his life, it
was a joy, which shone like a candle before the rest,
to sit down with good players, not bellowing partners, to a
game of vint, by all means in a four-handed game (" a five-
handed game is annoying, though I pretend that I like
it"), and to carry on a clever, serious game (when the
cards come your way), then to eat supper and drink a
glass of wine. Ivan Ilich used to lie down to sleep after
a game of vint in a very good frame of mind, especially if
his winnings were small (large ones are disagreeable).
Thus they lived. Their society circle consisted of the
best, and distinguished and young people called on them.
In their opinions of the circle of their acquaintances,
husband, wife, and daughter were in complete agreement.
Without having plotted on the subject, they all alike
washed their hands clean and freed themselves from all
kinds of friends and relatives, slatternly people, who flew
at them gushingly in their drawing-room with the Japa-
nese plates along the wall. Soon these slatternly friends
stopped flying about, and the Golovins had nothing but
the very best society left. Young men paid court to
Lizanka, and Petrishchev, the son of Dmitri IvAnovich
Petrishchev, and the only heir to his fortune, as examining
magistrate, began to pay attention to Lizanka, so that Ivan
Ilich even had a talk about this matter with Praskovya
FWdorovna, whether he had not better take them out
driving on tr6ykas, or arrange a performance for them.
Thus they lived, and everything went on thus, without
any change, and everything was well.
ALL were well. It was impossible to call ailment that
of which Ivan Ilich now and then said that he had a
peculiar taste in his mouth and an uncomfortable feeling
in the left side of his abdomen.
But it so happened that this discomfort kept growing
and passing, not yet into a pain, but into the conscious-
ness of a constant weight in his side and into ill humour.
This ill humour, growing and growing all the time, began
to spoil the pleasure of the light and decent life which
had established itself in the family of the Golovins. Man
and wife began to quarrel more and more often, and soon
there disappeared the ease and pleasure, and with diffi-
culty decency alone was maintained. The scenes became
more frequent again. Again there were left some islets,
but only a few of these, on which husband and wife could
meet without any explosion. Prask6vya F4dorovna now
said not without reason that her husband was hard to get
along with. With her usual habit of exaggerating, she
said that he had always had such a terrible character that
one had to have her goodness to have stood him for twenty
years. It is true, the quarrels now began with him. It
was he who began to find fault, always immediately before
dinner, and frequently just as he was beginning to eat,
during his soup. Now he remarked that some dish was
chipped, or the food was not just right, or his son had put
his elbow on the table, or there was something wrong with
his daughter's hairdressing. For everything he blamed
Prask6vya F4dorovna at first retorted and told him
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
disagreeable things, but he once or twice flew into such
a rage during the dinner that she understood that this
was a morbid condition, which was provoked in him by
the partaking of the food, and she curbed herself: she no
longer retorted, but only hastened to eat her dinner. Pras-
k6vya F6dorovna regarded her humility as a great desert
of hers. Having made up her mind that her husband had
a terrible character, and had been the misfortune of her
life, she began to pity herself, and the more she pitied
herself, the more did she hate her husband. She began
to wish that he would die, but she could not wish this,
because then there would be no salary. And this irri-
tated her still more against him. She considered herself
terribly unfortunate even because his very death could
not save her, and she was irritated and concealed her
irritation, and this concealed irritation increased her irri-
After a scene, in which Ivan Ilich was particularly
unjust, and after which he during the explanation said
that he was indeed irritable, but that this was due to his
disease, she said to him that if he was ill, he had to
undergo a cure, and so demanded of him that he should
consult a famous physician.
He went to see him. Everything was as he had
expected; everything was done as such things always
are. The expectancy, and the assumed importance of
the doctor, which was familiar to him and which he
knew in himself in the court, and the tapping, and the
auscultation, and the questions which demanded previ-
ously determined and apparently useless answers, and
the significant aspect which seemed to say, "Just submit
to us, and we shall arrange everything; we know indubi-
tably how to arrange it all, in the same fashion for any
man you please." Everything was precisely as in the
court. Just as he assumed a certain mien in respect to the
defendants, so the famous doctor assumed the same mien.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCH
The doctor said, So and so shows that inside of you
there is so and so; but if that is not confirmed by the inves-
tigation of so and so, we shall have to assume so and so.
If we assume so and so, then -" and so forth. Ivin
Ilich was interested in but one question, and that was,
whether his situation was dangerous, or not. But the
doctor ignored this irrelevant question. From the doc-
tor's standpoint, this question was idle and not subject
to consideration; there existed only a weighing of proba-
bilities, between a floating kidney, a chronic catarrh,
and the disease of the cecum. This dispute the doctor
decided in the presence of Ivan Ilich in a brilliant manner
in favour of the caecum, with the proviso that the inves-
tigation of the urine might give new symptoms, and then
the case would be revised. All that was precisely what
Ivan Ilich had a thousand times done in just as brilliant
a manner in the case of defendants. The doctor made
his rdsum6 in just as brilliant a manner, and looked with
a triumphant and merry glance over his glasses at the
defendant. From the doctor's resume Ivdn Ilich drew
the conclusion that things were bad, and that it was a
matter of indifference to him, the doctor, and, for all that,
to all people, but bad for himself. This conclusion mor-
bidly affected Ivan Ilich, provoking in him a feeling of
great pity for himself and of great anger against this doctor
who was indifferent to such an important question.
But he did not say anything; he only got up, put the
money down on the table, and said, sighing, "We sick
people no doubt frequently put irrelevant questions to
you. Is this, in general, a dangerous disease, or not?"
The doctor cast a stern glance at him with one eye,
above his glasses, as though saying, "Defendant, if you
do not remain within the limits of the questions put to
you, I shall be obliged to order your removal from the
I have already told you what I consider necessary
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCH
and proper," said the doctor. "Further things will be
disclosed in the investigation."
And the doctor made a bow.
Ivan Ilich went out slowly, gloomily seated himself in
the sleigh, and drove home. All the way he continued
analyzing everything which the doctor had said, try ing to
translate all those mixed, obscure scientific termn- It..
simple language, and to read in them an answer t,: the
question, "Am I in bad shape, in very bad shape, or i- it
still all right?" And it seemed to him that the me.tnin.-
of everything said by the doctor was that he was in hb;,
shape. Everything in the streets appeared sad t,: I'.'Su
Ilich. The drivers were sad, the houses were sad, the
passers-by, the shops were sad. But this pain, thi- dull.
grinding pain, which did not leave him for a minute'.
seemed, in connection with the doctor's obscure word. tc:
receive another, a more serious meaning. Ivan Ilih n..w
watched it with another, a heavy feeling.
He came home and began to tell his wife about it.
His wife listened to him, but in the middle of the *:.:nl,'r-
sation his daughter entered, with a hat on her head; die
was getting ready to drive out with her mother. S.he
made an effort to sit down and listen to all that tire-.ne
talk, but did not hold out, and her mother, too, did not
stop to hear the end of it.
"Well, I am very glad," said his wife. "So n,.,w. lbe
sure and take the medicine regularly. Give me the
recipe, I will send Gerasim to the apothecary's."
And she went out to get dressed.
He did not dare to draw breath while she was in the
room, but when she left, he heaved a deep sigh.
"Well," he said, "maybe it is, indeed, all right yet."
He began to take medicine, to carry out the d':t.-r's
prescriptions, which were changed in consequence o'f the
urine investigation. But here it somehow happen-ed tiat
in this investigation and in what was to follow after it
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
things became mixed up. It was impossible for him to
make his way to the doctor himself, and it turned out
that things were done differently from what the doctor
had ordered. Either the doctor had forgotten something
or told an untruth, or was hiding something from him.
But Ivan Ilich none the less began punctually to carry
out the doctor's instructions, and at first found some con-
solation in performing this duty.
Ivan Ilich's chief occupation, since his visit to the
doctor, became a punctual execution of the doctor's in-
structions as regards hygiene and the taking of medicine
and the watching of his disease and of all the functions
of his organism. People's diseases and health became his
chief interest. When they spoke in his presence of sick
people, of such as had died or were recuperating, espe-
cially of a disease which resembled his own, he, trying to
conceal his agitation, listened, inquired, and made deduc-
tions as to his own disease.
The pain did not subside; but Ivan Ilich made efforts
over himself, in order to make himself believe that he
was feeling better. He was able to deceive himself so
long as nothing agitated him. But the moment he had
some unpleasantness with his wife, some failure in his
service, bad cards in vint, he immediately felt the full
force of his disease. Formerly he had borne these fail-
ures, hoping that he would mend what was bad, would
struggle and gain some success, would get a full hand;
but now every failure sapped his strength, and cast him
into despair. He said to himself: "I had just begun to
mend, and the medicine had begun to act, when this ac-
cursed misfortune or unpleasantness befell me And he
was furious at the misfortune or at the people who caused
him an unpleasantness and were killing him, and he felt
that this anger was killing him, but was unable to keep
from it. It would seem that it must have become clear
to him that this embitterment against circumstances and
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
people only intensified his disease, and that, therefore, he
ought to pay no attention to unpleasant incidents; but
he made the very contrary reflection: he said that he
needed calm, and watched everything which impaired his
calm, and became irritable with every least impairment.
What made his condition worse was his reading books on
medicine and consulting doctors. His health declined so
evenly that he was able to deceive himself when he com-
pared one day with another, there was little difference.
But when he consulted doctors, it seemed to him that he
was growing worse, and very rapidly at that; but, in spite
of that, he constantly consulted doctors.
This month he called on another celebrity: the other
celebrity told him almost the same as the first celebrity,
but put the questions differently. The consultation with
this celebrity only increased Ivan Ilich's doubt and fear.
The friend of a friend of his, a very good doctor, deter-
mined the disease in a still different manner, and, although
he promised a cure, he with his questions and assump-
tions still more confused Ivan Ilich and intensified his
doubts. A homoeopathist determined the disease in a
still different way and gave him some medicine, and he
took it for a week, secretly from all. But at the end of
the week he felt no relief and lost his confidence in all
former treatments and in the present one, too, and so be-
came still more dejected. At one time a lady acquaint-
ance told him of a cure by means of holy images. Ivan
Ilich caught himself listening attentively and believing
the actuality of the fact. This incident frightened him.
Is it possible I have mentally grown so feeble ?" he
said to himself. "Nonsense! It's all bosh I must not
submit to my small faith, but, selecting one physician,
must strictly adhere to his treatment. I shall do so. It's
all over with that. I will not think, and will stick to
the one treatment until summer. We shall know what
to do after that. Now there is an end to wavering!"
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
It was easy to say all that, but impossible to execute
it. The pain in his side was still annoying and seemed
to be increasing and growing more constant; the taste in
his mouth grew more and more queer,-he thought a
disgusting smell came from his mouth, and his appetite
and his strength grew weaker and weaker. It was im-
possible for him to deceive himself: something terrible,
new, and more significant than anything that had ever
taken place in his life was now going on in him. He
alone knew of it, and all those who surrounded him did
not understand it, or did not wish to understand it, and
thought that everything in the world was going on as
before. That tormented him more than anything. His
home folk, especially his wife and his daughter, who were
in the very heat of calls, he saw, did not understand
a thing about it and were annoyed because he was so
cheerless and so exacting, as though it were his fault.
Though they tried to conceal this, he saw that he was an
obstacle to them, but that his wife had worked out for
herself a certain relation to his disease and held on to
it independently of what he said and did. This relation
was like this:
"You know," she would say to her friends, Ivn
Ilich, like all good people, is unable strictly to take the
prescribed cure. To-day he will take the drops and eat
what he is ordered to eat, and will go to bed early; to-
morrow, if I do not watch him, he will forget to take the
medicine, will eat some sturgeon (and he is not allowed to
eat that), and will sit up playing vint until one o'clock.
"' When did I do it?' Ivin Ilich will say in anger.
'Just this once at Peter Ivinovich's.'
"' And yesterday at Sh4bek's.'
"' It makes no difference, I cannot sleep from pain any-
"' Whether from pain or from anything else, you will
never get well this way, and you only torment us.'"
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCH
Prask6vya F4dorovna's external relation to her hus-
band's ailment, which she expressed to him as much as
to others, was this, that Ivan Ilich had himself to blame
for this ailment, and that this whole ailment was a new
annoyance which he was causing his wife. Iv6n Ilich
felt that that came involuntarily from her, but that did
not make it any easier for him.
In the court Ivan Ilich observed, or thought that he ob-
served, the same strange relation to himself: now it seemed
to him that people peeped at him as at a man who was soon
to make a place vacant; now his friends began in a jest-
ing manner to tease him on account of his suspiciousness,
as though the fact that something terrible and horrible,
something unheard-of, which was taking place in him
and gnawing at him and drawing him somewhere, were
a most agreeable subject for jests. He was particularly
irritated by Schwarz, who with his playfulness, vivacity,
and come il faut ways reminded him of what he had
been ten years before.
Friends come to have a game, and they sit down at the
table. The cards are dealt; the new cards are separated,
and the diamonds are placed with the diamonds, seven
of them. The partner says, Without trumps," and sup-
ports two diamonds. What else should one wish ? It
ought to be jolly and lively, a clean sweep. And sud-
denly Ivan Ilich feels such a gnawing pain, such a bad
taste in his mouth, and it feels so queer to him to be able
with all that to find any pleasure in a clean sweep.
He looks at Mikhail Mikhiylovich, his partner, as he
with the hand of a sanguine man strikes the table and
politely and condescendingly refrains from sweeping in
the stakes and moves them up to Iv6n Ilich, in order to
give him the pleasure of taking them in, without going
to much trouble or stretching his hand far.
Does he really think that I am so feeble that I can-
not stretch out my hand?" thinks Ivan Ilich, and he
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
f:.rl :t whit is trumps, and unnecessarily trumps his own
ia0.,, aind loses the clean sweep by three points, and, what
i~ mior.r, Lerrible still, he sees Mikhail Mikhgylovich suffer-
in,, iun:l tbht makes no difference to him. And it is ter-
rible for him to think that it makes no difference to him.
All see that it is hard for him, and they say to him:
"We can stop, if you are tired. You had better rest."
Rest ? No, he is not in the least tired, he will finish
the rubber. All are sad and silent. Ivan Ilich feels
that it is he who has cast this gloom over them, and he
cannot dispel it. They eat supper and leave, and Ivan
Ilch is left alone with the consciousness that his life is
poisoned for him and poisons others, and that this poison
does not weaken him, but more and more penetrates all
And it was with this consciousness, in addition to the
physical pain, and with terror, that he had to lie down in
his bed, and often be unable from pain to sleep the greater
part of the night. In the morning he had to get up again,
go to the court, or, if not in court, stay at home all the
twenty-four hours of the day, each of which was a tor-
ment. And he had to live by himself on the edge of
perdition, without a single man to understand or pity
THUS passed a month, and two months. Before New
Year his brother-in-law arrived in the city, and stopped at
their house. Ivan Ilich was at court. Prask6vya Fddo-
rovna was out shopping. Upon entering his cabinet, Ivin
Ilich found there his brother-in-law, a healthy sanguine
man, who was himself unpacking his satchel. Upon hear-
ing Ivan Ilich's steps, he raised his head and for a second
looked at him in silence. This glance disclosed every-
thing to Ivan Ilich. The brother-in-law opened his
mouth to exclaim something in amazement, but held
himself back. This motion confirmed everything.
"Well, have I changed ?"
"Yes there is a change."
And no matter how much Ivan Ilich afterward led his
brother-in-law up to talk about his appearance, his brother-
in-law kept quiet about it. Prask6vya F4dorovna came
home, and the brother-in-law went to see her. Ivan Ilich
locked the door and began to look at himself in the mirror,
at first straight, and then from one side. He took the
photograph of himself and his wife, and compared it with
what he saw in the mirror. The change was tremendous.
Then he bared his arms as high as the elbow; he looked
at them, pulled down the sleeves, sat down on an ottoman,
and grew darker than night.
I must not, I must not," he said to himself. He went
up to the table, picked up a law case, and began to read
it, but was unable to do so. He opened the door and went
into the parlour. The door to the drawing-room was
closed. He went up to it on tiptoe, and began to listen.
T.TE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH 45
No, you exaggerate it." said Praskdvya Fedorovna.
SExaggerate ? N.... You do not see it, he is a dead
man,--look into his eyes. There is no light in them.
What is the matter with him ?"
"Nobody knows. Nikolaev" (that was the second
doctor) said something, but I do not know what. Lesh-
chetitski" (that was the famous doctor) said, on the
Ivan Ilich walked away and went to his room; he lay
down and began to think: "The kidney, a floating kid-
ney." He recalled everything which the doctors had told
him about how it had torn itself away and was floating
around. He tried with an effort of the imagination to
catch this kidney, and to arrest and fasten it. So little
was needed for that, he thought. "No, I will call on
Peter Iv6novich before I do anything else." (This was
that friend whose friend was a doctor.) He rang the bell,
ordered the horse to be hitched up, and got himself ready
Whither are you going, Jean ?" asked his wife, with
a peculiarly sad and strangely kind expression.
This strangely kind expression made him furious. He
cast a gloomy glance at her.
"I have some business with Peter Ivanovich."
He drove to the house of his friend, who had a friend
who was a doctor. With him he drove to the doctor. He
found him at home, and conversed with him for a long
By analyzing anatomically and physiologically the de-
tails of what, according to the doctor's opinion, was going
on in him, he understood it all.
There was a thing, just a little thing, in his blind gut.
All this might change for the better. Strengthen the
energy of one organ, weaken the activity of another, there
will take place a suction, and all will be well. He was a
little too late for dinner. He dined and conversed merrily,
THE DEATH OF IVAN IL':H
but could not for a long time go ti... k to, his room to
attend to his business. Finally he went to his cabinet,
and immediately sat down to work. He read some cases
and worked, but the consciousness of the fact that he had
a reserved, important, confidential matter, with which he
would busy himself after he was through, did not leave
him. When he was through with work he recalled that
this confidential matter was his thoughts about the blind
gut. But he did not abandon himself to them: he went
to the drawing-room for tea.
There were guests there, and they talked, and played
the piano, and sang; there was also the investigating
magistrate, his daughter's intended. Ivan Ilich, according
to Prask6vya F4dorovna's remark, passed a jollier evening
than ever; but he did not for a moment forget the fact
that he had some reserved, important thoughts about the
At eleven o'clock he excused himself, and went to his
room. Ever since the beginning of his disease he had
slept by himself, in a small room near his cabinet. He
went there, undressed himself, and took up a novel by
Zola, but did not read it,--he was thinking. In his
imagination took place the desired improvement in his
blind gut. There was a suction and a secretion, and the
regular activity was reestablished.
Yes, that is all correct," he said to himself. All one
has to do is to come to Nature's aid."
He thought of his medicine. He raised himself up,
took the medicine, and lay down on his back, watching
the beneficial effect of the medicine and the destruction
of his pain by it.
Take it regularly and avoid deleterious influences,
that is all; I am beginning to feel a little better, much
He began to feel his side, but it did not pain to the
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
Ye-, I d:1,: n.t. ferl it,--really it is much better now."
HTI put .'ut thel li.-ht, and lay down on his side. The
blind E-it i. iulL.r.,ng. :rnd being sucked in. Suddenly
b':. y.;p':ri':nce'd his o:ld,. dill, gnawing pain,-it was stub-
l:.Iu, alto, and s~i:ri''u. In the mouth was the same
filt[ir. al."'iinal..le t.-e. His heart was pinched, his
hb':::l I-,:" 'ii Sy.
S.MIy G;:..L. Lu G.:ld he muttered, "again and again,
aud. it will Liver stop."
Suddenly the matter presented itself to him from an
entirely different side.
The blind gut, the kidney !" he said to himself. "It
is not a question of the blind gut, nor of the kidney, but
of life and death. Yes, there was life, and it is going
away and away, and I cannot retain it. Yes. Why
should I deceive myself ? Is it not evident to all outside
of me that I am dying? The question is only in the
number of weeks and days -perhaps now. There was
light, but now it is darkness. I was here until now, but
now I am going thither! Whither?"
He was chilled, and his breath stopped. He heard only
the beats of his heart.
"I shall be no longer, so what will there be? There
will be nothing. But where .shall I be, when I am no
longer? Can it be death? No, I will not die."
He leaped up and wanted to light a candle; he groped
about with trembling hands, dropped the candle with
the candlestick on the floor, and again fell back on the
"What's the use? It makes no difference," he said
to himself, looking with open eyes into the darkness.
" Death, yes, death. And not one of them knows, or
wants to know, and they have no pity. They are play-
ing." (He was hearing beyond the door the peal of voices
and of a ritornelle.) "It makes no difference to them,
but they, too, will die. Foolishness! First I, and they
46 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
after me; they will come to the same. And they are
making merry. Beasts !"
Malice was choking him. He felt painfully and in-
tolerably oppressed. It could not be that all should be
fated to experience this terrible fear. He got up.
Something is not quite right; I must calm myself, I
must consider everything from the beginning."
And he began to consider.
"Yes, the beginning of the disease. I struck my side,
and I was all the time the same, to-day and to-morrow,
- I had a little pain, then more, then the doctors, then a
gnawing pain, then despair, again the doctors; and I kept
coming nearer and nearer to the abyss. There is less
strength. Nearer and nearer. And I wore myself out,
- I have no light in my eyes. And there is death, and
I am thinking all the time of the blind gut. I am think-
ing of mending the gut, but this is death. Is it really
Again he was assailed by terror: he breathed heavily,
and bent over, trying to find a match, and pressed with
his elbow against the foot-rest. The foot-rest was in his
way and caused him pain, so he grew angry at it and in
his anger pressed harder against it and threw it down.
In his despair he lost his breath and threw himself
down on his back, expecting death to come at once.
At this time the guests were departing. Prask6vya
F4dorovna was seeing them off. She heard something
fall, and entered the room.
"What is the matter with you ?"
"Nothing. I dropped it accidentally."
She went out and brought a candle. He was lying
down, breathing heavily and fast, like a man who had run
a verst, and looked at her with an arrested glance.
"What is the matter with you, Jean ?"
"Noth-ing. I dropped it."
"What is the use of telling her? She will not under-
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH 47
stand it," he thought. She did not understand it indeed.
She lifted the foot-rest, lighted a candle for him, and hur-
ried away. She had to see a guest off.
When she came back he was still lying on his back,
looking at the ceiling.
"How are you ? Are you feeling worse ?"
She shook her head, and sat awhile.
Do you know, Jean? I think it would be well to
send for Leshchetitski."
This meant that she wanted to send for the famous doc-
tor, and not to spare any expense. He smiled a sarcastic
smile, and said, No." She sat awhile, and then went
up to him and kissed his brow.
He hated her with all the strength of his soul just as
she was kissing him, and he made an effort over himself
not to push her back.
"Good night. God will grant you to fall asleep."
IVXN ILICH saw that he was dying, but he was not
only not used to this, but simply did not understand and
was absolutely unable to understand it.
That example of a syllogism which he had learned
from Kiesewetter's logic, Caius is a man, men are mortal,
consequently Caius is mortal," had all his life seemed
true to him only in regard to Caius, but by no means to
him. That was Caius the man, man in general, and that
was quite true; but he was not Caius, and not man in
general; he had always been an entirely, entirely differ-
ent being from all the rest; he had been Vanya with his
mother, with his father, Mftya, and Vol6dya; with his toys,
the coachman, and the nurse; then with KAtenka, with
all the joys, sorrows, and delights of childhood, boyhood,
youth. Had there ever existed for Caius that odour of
the striped leather ball, which Vanya had been so fond
of ? Had Caius kissed his mother's hand in the same
way, and had the silk of the folds of his mother's dress
rustled in the same way for Caius? Had he been as
riotous about patties at the Law School ? Had Caius been
in love like him? Had Caius been able to conduct a
session like him ?
"Caius is indeed mortal, and it is proper for him to
die, but for me, Vanya, Ivan Ilich, with all my feelings
and thoughts, for me it is an entirely different matter.
It cannot be proper for me to die. That would be too
That was the way he felt about it.
THE DEATH OF IVAN _IGCH
If I were to die like Caius, I should know it, and an
inner voice would tell me so, but nothing similar has been
the case with me, and I and all my friends understood
that it is not all the same as with Caius. But now it
is like this!" he said to himself. "It is impossible!
It cannot be, but it is so. How is this? How is this to
be comprehended? "
And he was unable to understand, and tried to dispel
this thought as being false, irregular, and morbid, and to
substitute for it other, regular, healthy thoughts. But this
thought, not merely thought, but, as it were, reality, -
came back and stood before him.
And he invoked in the place of this thought other
thoughts in rotation, in the hope of finding a support in
them. He tried to return to former trains of thought,
which heretofore had veiled the thought of death from
him. But, strange to say, what formerly had veiled, con-
cealed, and destroyed the consciousness of death, now
could no longer produce this effect. Of late Ivan Ilich
passed the greater part of his time in these endeavours to
reestablish his former trains of feeling, which had veiled
death from him.
He said to himself, "I will busy myself with my serv-
ice, for have I not lived by it heretofore ?" and he went
to court, dispelling all doubts from himself; he entered
into conversations with his associates, and seated himself
in his customary manner, casting a distracted, pensive
glance upon the crowd, and leaning with both his emaci-
ated hands on the rests of the oak chair, leaning over to
an associate, as on former occasions, moving up the case,
and whispering, and then, suddenly casting an upward
glance and seating himself straight, he pronounced the
customary words and began the case. But suddenly, in
the middle, the pain in his side, paying no attention to the
period of the development of the case, began its own
gnawing work. Ivan Ilich listened to it and dispelled
50 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
the thought of it, but it continued its work and came and
stationed itself right in front of him and looked at him,
and he was dazed, and the fire went out in his eyes, and
he began to ask himself again, Is it possible it alone is
true?" And his associates and his men under him saw
in surprise and sorrow that he, such a brilliant and shrewd
judge, was getting mixed and making blunders. He shook
himself, tried to come back to his senses, and somehow
managed to bring the session to a close, and returned
home with the sad consciousness that his judicial work
could not, as it had done of old, conceal from him what
he wished to be concealed, and that by means of his
judicial work he could not be freed from it. And, what
was worst of all, was this, that it drew him toward itself,
not that he might be able to do something, but only that
he might look at it, straight into its eyes, that he might
look at it and, without doing anything, might suffer
And, while trying to escape this state, Ivan Ilich sought
consolation and other shields, and the other shields ap-
peared and for a short time seemed to save him, but very
soon they were again, not destroyed, but made trans-
parent, as though it penetrated through everything, and
nothing could shroud it.
During this last period he entered the drawing-room
which he himself had furnished, that drawing-room
where he had fallen, for which he, as he thought with
sarcasm and ridicule, for the arrangement of which he
had sacrificed his life, for he knew that his disease had
begun with that hurt; he entered and saw that there was a
nick in the table. He looked for the cause of it, and found
it in the bronze adornment of the album which was bent
at the edge. He took the album, an expensive one, he
had made it himself with love, and was annoyed at the
carelessness of his daughter and her friends, here there
was a tear, and there the photographs were turned bottom
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
side up. He brought it all carefully back into shape and
bent the adornment back again.
Then occurred to him the thought of transplanting all
this tacblissement with the albums to another corner, near
the flowers. He called up a lackey ; either his daughter
or his wife came to his rescue: they did not agree and
contradicted him, he quarrelled and grew angry; but
everything was good, for he did not think of it, it was
not to be seen.
But just then his wife said, as he moved the things,
"Let the servants do it, you will only hurt yourself," and
suddenly it flashed above the screen, and he saw it. It
flashed by, and he still hopes that it will pass, but he in-
voluntarily listens to one side, -it is still seated there
and still causing him the same gnawing pain, and he can
no longer forget, and it looks at him quite clearly from
behind the flowers. What is this all for ?
"And it is true that I lost my life on this curtain, as
though in the storming of a fortress. Is it really so ?
How terrible and how stupid! It cannot be! It cannot
be, but it is so."
He went into his cabinet, and lay down there, and was
again left all alone with it, face to face with it, and
there'was nothing he could do with it. All he had to do
was to look at it and grow cold.
How it all happened in the third month of Ivan Ilich's
disease is hard to tell, because it all happened impercep-
tibly step by step, but what happened was that his wife,
and his son, and the servants, and his acquaintances, and
the doctors, and, above all else, he himself knew that the
whole interest in him consisted for others in nothing but
the question how soon he would vacate the place, would
free the living from the embarrassment produced by his
presence, and would himself be freed from his sufferings.
He slept less and less: he was given opium, and they
began to inject morphine into him. But this did not make
it easier for him. The dull dejection which he experi-
enced in his half-sleeping state at first gave him relief as
something new, but later it grew to be the same, and even
more agonizing, than the sharp pain.
They prepared particular kinds of food for him accord-
ing to the doctor's prescriptions; but these dishes tasted
to him more and more insipid, and more and more abom-
Special appliances, too, were used for his evacuations,
and every time this was a torture to him, a torture on
account of the impurity, the indecency, and the smell,
and from the consciousness that another person had to
take part in it.
But in this most disagreeable matter Ivan Ilich found
his consolation. The peasant of the buffet, Gerasim,
.always came to carry out his vessel. Now Ger6sim was a
clean, fresh young peasant, who had improved much on his
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
city food. He was always merry and precise. At first;
the sign of this cleanly man, who was dressed in Russian
fashion and did this detestable work, embarrassed Ivin
One time, upon getting up from the vessel, and being
unable to lift up his trousers, he dropped down into a
soft chair and looked in terror at his bared, impotent
thighs with their sharply defined muscles.
Gerasim, in heavy boots, spreading about him the
agreeable odour of tar from his boots and of the freshness
of the winter air, stepped into the room with heavy tread.
He wore a clean hempen apron and a clean chintz shirt,
the sleeves of which were rolled up on his bare, strong,
youthful arms, and without looking at Ivan Ilich, and
apparently repressing the joy of life which shone upon
his face, in order not to offend the patient, he walked over
to the vessel.
Gerasim," Ivan Ilich said, in a feeble voice.
Gerasim trembled, apparently in fear of having done
something wrong, and with a rapid motion turned to the
patient his fresh, kindly, simple, youthful face, which was
just beginning to be covered with a beard.
"What do you wish ?"
I suppose this is unpleasant for you. Excuse me.
I cannot help it."
Not at all, sir." And Gerisim flashed his eyes and
displayed his youthful, white teeth. "Why should you
trouble yourself ? You are sick."
And with his strong, agile hands he did his usual work,
and walked out, stepping lightly. Five minutes later he
returned, stepping as lightly as before.
Ivan Ilich was sitting in the chair in the same
Gerasim," he said, when Gerasim had put down the
vessel, which had been washed clean, "please, come here
and help me."
54 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
Gerasim went up to him.
"Lift me up. It is hard for me to do it all alone, and
I have sent Dmitri away."
Gerasim went up to him: with his strong arms he
embraced him as lightly as he stepped, raised him skil-
fully and softly, held him up, with one hand pulled up
his trousers, and wanted to put him down again in the
chair. But Ivan Ilich asked to be taken to the divan.
Gerasim without an effort, and as though without press-
ing against him, took him, almost carried him, to the
divan, and seated him on it.
"Thank you. How skilfully and well you do every-
Gerdsim smiled again, and was on the point of leaving.
But Ivan Ilich felt so well with him that he did not want
to dismiss him.
Be so kind as to push that chair up to me. No, that,
--under my feet. I feel more at ease when my legs
Gerasim brought him the chair, which he put down
evenly on the floor without making a noise with it, and
raised Ivan Ilich's feet on the chair. It seemed to Ivin
Ilich that he felt more at ease while Gerisim was rais-
ing up his legs.
I feel more at ease when my legs are higher," said
Iv6n Ilich. Put that pillow under me."
Gerasim did so. He raised the legs and put the pillow
down. Again Ivan Ilich felt better while Gerasim was
holding his legs. When Gerisim put them down, he
thought he felt worse.
"Gerasim," he said to him, "are you busy now ?"
"Not at all, sir," said Gerdsim, who had learned from
city folk how to talk to gentlemen.
What else have you to do?"
"What else have I to do? I have done everything,
and have only to chop some wood for to-morrow."
THE DEATH OF IVYN ILICH
-- If s:., hb:'ld up my legs a little higher,--can you do
it ? "
SWhy n-.t ? I can."
G er. i rai ised his legs higher. And it seemed to Ivin
Ilich that in this position he did not feel any pain at all.
And how about the wood?"
"Do not trouble yourself. We shall get time for
IvTn Ilich ordered Gerasim to sit down and hold his
legs, and entered into a conversation with him. And,
strange to say, it seemed to him that he felt better so
long as Gerasim was holding his legs.
From that time on Ivan Ilich began to call in Gerdsim,
and made Gerasim keep his legs on his shoulders, and
was fond of talking with him. Gerasim did this lightly,
gladly, simply, and with a goodness which affected Ivan
Ilich. Health, strength, vivacity in all other people
offended Ivan Ilich; but GerAsim's strength and vivacity
did not sadden him, it soothed him.
Ivan Ilich's chief suffering was from a lie. This lie,
for some reason accepted by all, was this, that he was
only sick and not dying, and that he needed but to be calm
and be cured, and then all would go well. He knew full
well that, no matter what they might do, nothing would
come of it but still more agonizing suffering and death.
And he was tormented by this lie and by this, that they
would not confess what all, and he, too, knew, but insisted
on lying about him in this terrible situation, and wanted
and compelled him to take part in this lie. The lie, the
lie, this lie which was perpetrated on him on the day
previous to his death and which was to reduce this terrible,
solemn act of his death to the level of all their visits,
curtains, sturgeon at dinner, was dreadfully painful for
Ivan Ilich. And, strange to say, often, while they were
perpetrating their jests on him, he was within a hair's
breadth of shouting out to them, Stop lying You know,
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
and I, too, know that I am dying, -so stop at least yT-o r
lying." But he had never the courage to do it.
The horrible, terrible act of his dying, he saw, was by
all those who surrounded him reduced to the level of
an accidental unpleasantness and partly to that of an
indecency (something the way they treat a man who,
upon entering a drawing-room, spreads a bad odour),
through that very decency" which he had been serving
all his life; he saw that no one would pity him, because
no one wanted even to understand his position. Gerasim
was the only one who understood this position and pitied
him. And so Ivan Ilich never felt happy except when
he was with Gerasim. He felt well when Gerasim,
frequently whole nights at a stretch, held his legs and
would not go to bed, saying, Please not to trouble your-
self, Ivin Ilich, I shall get enough sleep yet;" or when he,
passing over to "thou," suddenly added, If thou wert
not a sick man it would be different, but as it is, why
should I not serve thee ?"
Gerisim was the only one who did not lie; everything
proved that he alone understood what the matter was,
and did not consider it necessary to conceal it, but simply
pitied his emaciated, feeble master. Once, when Ivin
Ilich sent him away, he went so far as to say:
We shall all of us die. Why should we not trouble
ourselves?" with which he meant to say that he did not
find his labour annoying, for the reason that he was doing
it for a dying man, and that he hoped that in the proper
time some one would do the same for him.
Besides this lie, or in consequence of it, Ivin Ilich was
most annoyed by this, that no one pitied him the way he
wanted to be pitied ; at certain moments, after long suffer-
ings, Ivin Ilich wanted most of all, however much he was
ashamed to acknowledge the fact, that some one should
pity him like a sick child. He wanted to be petted,
kissed, and fondled, as they pet and console children.
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH 57
He knew that he was an important member of the court
and that his beard was streaked gray, and that, therefore,
that was impossible; but he none the less desired it. In
his relations with Gerdsim there was something resembling
it, and so his relations with Gerasim gave him consolation.
Ivsn Ilich feels like crying, and wants to be petted
and cried over; and there comes his associate, member
Sh6bek, and, instead of crying and being petted, Ivan Ilich
assumes a serious, stern, pensive aspect, and from inertia
expresses his opinion on the decree of the court of cas-
sation, and stubbornly sticks to his view. This lie all
around him and in himself more than anything else
poisoned the last days of Ivan Ilich's life.
IT was morning. It was morning, because Gerdsim
went away, and Peter the lackey came in his place: he
put out the candles, drew aside one curtain, and began
softly to fix up the room. Whether it was morning (ci
evening, Friday or Sunday, did not make the slightest
difference, -it was all the same: the gnawing, agonizing
pain, which did not subside for a minute; the conscious-
ness of the hopelessly receding, but not yet receded life;
the same impending, terrible, hateful death, which alon.:
was reality, and still the same lie. Where could there I.-
here days, weeks, and hours of the day ?
"Do you command me to bring you tea ?"
"His order demands that gentlemen should drink tea
in the morning," he thought, but he said only:
"Do you not wish to go over to the divan ?"
"He has to tidy up the room, and I am in his way, -
I am an impurity, a nuisance," he thought, and all he said
No, leave me."
The lackey bustled a little while. Iv6n Ilich extended
his hand. Peter came up, ready to serve him.
"What do you wish ?"
Peter got the watch which was lying under Ivan Ilich's
hand, and gave it to him.
"Half-past eight. Have they not got up yet ?"
"Not yet, sir. Vasili IvAnovich" (that was his son)
"has gone to the gymnasium, and Praskdvya F6dorovna
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILiCH 59
has commanded that she be wakened, if you should ask
for her. Do you command me? "
"Maybe I had better try some tea ?" he thought.
"Yes, tea. Bring me tea."
Peter started to go out. Ivan Ilich felt terribly at
"How can I keep him? Yes, the medicine."
"Peter, give me the medicine."
"Why not? Maybe the medicine will help me yet."
He took a spoonful and swallowed it.
No, it will not help me. It is all nonsense and a
deception," he decided, the moment he had the familiar,
detestable, hopeless taste in his mouth. "No, I can no
longer believe. But the pain, the pain, what is it for?
If it would only stop for just a minute."
And he sobbed. Peter came back.
"No, go. Bring me some tea."
Peter went away. When Iv6n Ilfch was left alone, he
groaned, not so much from pain, no matter how terrible
it was, as from despondency. Always the same and the
same, all these endless days and nights. If it would only
come at once. What at once? Death, darkness. No,
no. Anything is better than death!"
When Peter came back with the tea on a tray, Ivan
Ilich for a long time looked distractedly at him, being
unable to make out who he was, or what he wanted.
Peter was confounded by this look. When Peter looked
confounded, Ivan Ilich came to his senses.
Yes," he said, the tea; all right, put it down. Only
help me to get washed, and let me have a clean shirt."
And Ivan Ilich got up to wash himself. Stopping
occasionally, he washed his hands and face, cleaned his
teeth, began to comb his hair, and looked into the mirror.
He felt terribly, especially so, because his hair lay flat
over his pale brow.
60 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
As his shirt was being changed, he knew that he wouln
feel more terribly still if he looked at his body, and so be
did not look at himself. But all was ended. He put o._
his morning-gown, covered himself with a shawl, and :.it
down in a chair to his tea. For a minute he felt hims.li
refreshed, but the moment he began to drink the tea ther.-
was again the same taste, and the same pain. He with
difficulty finished his glass and lay down, stretching hii
legs. He lay down, and dismissed Peter.
Again the same. Now a drop of hope would sparkle,
and now a sea of despair would be agitated, and all the
time the pain, and the pain, and the despondency, and
again the same and the same. He felt terribly despondent
by himself and wanted to call some one in, but he knew
in advance that in the presence of others it would be
"If I just had some morphine again, -I should forget.
I will tell him, the doctor, to think out something else.
It cannot go on this way, it cannot."
Thus an hour, two hours pass. But now there is the
bell in the antechamber. Perhaps the doctor. Indeed, it
is the doctor, fresh, vivacious, fat, jolly, with an ex-
pression which seems to say, Now there you are all
frightened, but we will fix it all in a minute." The
doctor knows that this expression is of no use here, but
he has put it on once for all and cannot take it off, like a
man who in the morning puts on his dress coat and goes
The doctor rubs his hands briskly and in a consoling
"I am cold. It is a cutting frost. Just let me get
warmed up," he says with an expression which says that
all that is necessary is for him to get warmed up, and as
soon as he is warm he will fix it all.
Well, how is it ?"
Ivan Ilich feels that the doctor wants to say, "How
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
are our affairs ?" but that he himself feels that it would
not do to speak in this manner, and so he says, How did
you pass the night ? "
Ivan Ilich looks at the doctor with a questioning ex-
Will you never feel ashamed of lying ?"
But the doctor does not want to understand the ex-
pression, and Ivan Ilich says:
Just as terribly as ever. The pain does not pass
away, does not subside. If it would stop just a little !"
You patients are always like that. Well,tsir, now, it
seems, I am all warmed up, and even most exact Pras-
kdvya F6dorovna would not be able to object to my
temperature. Well, sir, good morning," and the doctor
presses his hand.
Throwing aside his former playfulness, the doctor be-
gins with a serious glance to investigate the patient, his
pulse, his temperature, and there begin tappings and
Ivan Ilich knows full well and indubitably that all
this is nonsense and mere deception, but when the doctor,
getting down on his knees, stretches out over him, leaning
his ear now higher up, and now lower down, and with a
significant expression on his face makes over him all
kinds of gymnastic evolutions, Iv6n Ilich submits to it, as
he submitted to the speeches of the lawyers, though he
knew well that they were ranting all the time, and why
they were ranting.
The doctor was still kneeling on the divan, tapping at
something, when Praskdvya Fedorovna's silk dress rustled
at the door, and there was heard her reproach to Peter for
not having announced to her the doctor's arrival.
She comes in, kisses her husband, and immediately
proceeds to, prove that she got up long ago, and that only
by a misunderstanding did she fail to be present when the
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
Ivdn Ilich looks at her, examines her whole figure, aoll
finds fault with the whiteness, chubbiness, and cleanlinet-
of her hands and neck, the gloss of her hair, and the
sparkle of her vivacious eyes. He hates her with
the whole strength of his soul. Her touch makes him
suffer from an access of hatred toward her.
Her relation to him and his sickness is still the same.
As the doctor had worked out for himself a relation to his
patients, which he was unable to divest himself of, so she
had worked out a certain relation to him, that he was
somehow not doing what he ought to do, and was himself
to blame for it, and she lovingly reproached him for it, -
and was unable to divest herself of this relation to him.
Well, he pays no attention. He does not take the
medicine on time. Above all else, he lies down in a posi-
tion which, no doubt, is injurious to him,- with his
She told the doctor how he made Gerisim hold up his
The doctor smiled a contemptuously kind smile:
Well, what is to be done ? These patients at times
invent such foolish things, but we can forgive them."
When the examination was ended, the doctor looked at
his watch, and Prask6vya Fedorovna announced to Ivan
Ilich that she did not care what he would do, but she
had sent for a famous doctor, who in company with Mi-
khail Danilovich (so the ordinary doctor was called) would
make an examination and have a consultation.
Don't object to this, if you please. I am doing this
for my own sake," she said ironically, giving him to
understand that she was doing everything for his sake,
and in this way did not give him the right to refuse her.
He was silent, and frowned. He felt that this lie which
surrounded him was becoming so entangled that it was
getting hard to make out anything.
She was doing everything about him for her own sake,
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
and she told him that she was doing for herself every-
thing that she really was doing for herself, as though
it were such an incredible thing that he ought to under-
stand it as the exact opposite.
Indeed, at half-past eleven the famous doctor arrived.
Again there were auscultations and significant conversa-
tions in his presence and in another room about the
kidney and the blind gut, and questions and answers
with such significant looks that instead of the real ques-
tion about life and death, which alone now stood before
him, there again came forward the question about the
kidney and the blind gut, which were not acting as they
ought to, and which Mikhail Danilovich and the celeb-
rity will for this reason attack and compel to get better.
The famous doctor departed with a serious, but not
with a hopeless, look. In reply to the timid question,
which Ivan Ilich directed to him with eyes raised to him
and shining with terror and hope, as to whether there
was any possibility of recovery, he replied that he could
not guarantee it, but that it was possible. The glance of
hope with which Ivan Ilich saw the doctor off was so
pitiful that, seeing it, Prask6vya F6dorovna even burst
out into tears as she went out of the cabinet, in order to
give the famous doctor his fee.
The elation of spirit, produced by the doctor's en-
couragement, did not last long. There were again the
same room, the same pictures, curtains, wall-paper, bottles,
and the same paining, suffering body. Ivan Ilich began
to groan; they gave him an injection, and he forgot him-
When he came to, it was growing dark; they brought
him his dinner. He took with difficulty some soup, and
again it was the same, and again nightfall.
After dinner, at seven o'clock, the room was entered by
Prask6vya F4dorovna, who was dressed as for an evening
entertainment, with swelling, raised up breasts, and traces
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
of powder on her face. She had talked to him in th.-:
morning of going to the theatre. Sarah Bernhardt a: in
the city, and they had a box which he had insisted iLat
they should take. Now he forgot about it, and her attire
offended him. But he concealed his offence when he re-
called that he himself had insisted on their taking a box
and going, because this was for the children an educa-
tional, aesthetic enjoyment.
Prask6vya Fdorovna came in satisfied with herself,
but seemingly guilty. She sat down for awhile, asked
him about his health, as he saw, merely to ask, but not
to find out, knowing that there was nothing to find out,
and began to speak of what she wanted to speak of, that
she would not go at all if the box had not been engaged,
and that with her were going H61ne, and their daughter,
and Petrishchev (their daughter's fiance), and that it was
impossible to let them go by themselves. It really would
give her more pleasure to stay at home; but he must be
sure and do in her absence according to the doctor's pre-
Yes, F4dor Petr6vich" (the fiance) wanted to come
in. May he? And Liza."
Let them come in."
The daughter came in. She was all dressed up, with
a bared youthful body, that body which caused him to
suffer so much; but she exposed it. She was strong,
healthy, apparently in love, and vexed at the disease,
suffering, and death, which interfered with her happi-
There entered also F6dor Petr6vich, in dress coat, with
his hair fixed h la Capoul, with a long sinewy neck,
tightly surrounded by a white collar, with an enormous
white chest and close-fitting trousers over powerful thighs,
with a white handkerchief drawn over his hand, and with
an opera hat.
After him imperceptibly crawled in the little gymnasiast,
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
in a bran-new uniform, poor fellow, and with terrible
blue marks under his eyes, the meaning of which Ivan
His son always looked pitiful to him, and terrible was
his frightened and compassionate glance. Besides Gerdsim,
it seemed to Ivin Ilich, Visya was the only one who
understood and pitied him.
All sat down, and again asked about his health. There
ensued a silence. Liza asked her mother about the opera-
glass. Mother and daughter exchanged words about who
was at fault for having mislaid it. It was an unpleasant
Fddor Petrovich asked Ivan Ilich whether he had seen
Sarah Bernhardt. At first Ivan Ilich did not understand
what it was they were asking him, but later he said:
"No, and have you seen her already ?"
"Yes, in Adrienne Lecouvreur."
Prask6vya F6dorovna said that she was particularly
good in this or that. Her daughter objected. There
ensued a conversation about the art and the realism of
her play, that very conversation which is always one and
In the middle of the conversation F6dor Petr6vich
looked at Ivan Ilich, and grew silent. The others looked
at him, too, and grew silent. Ivan Ilich was looking with
glistening eyes ahead of him, apparently vexed at them.
It was necessary to mend all this, but it was impossible
to do so. It was necessary to interrupt the silence. No-
body could make up his mind to do so, and all felt terribly
at the thought that now the decent lie would somehow
be broken, and every one would see clearly how it all
was. Liza was the first to make up her mind. She
interrupted the silence. She wanted to conceal what all
were experiencing, but she gave herself away:
"If we are to go at all, it is time we started," she said,
looking at her watch, a present from her father, and she
66 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILiCH
smiled at the young man a faint, significant smile about
something which they alone knew, and got up, causing
her dress to rustle.
All arose, said good-bye, and departed.
When they went out, it seemed to Ivan Ilich that he
was feeling easier: there was no lie, -it departed with
them, -but the pain was still left. The old pain, the
old terror made him feel neither harder, nor easier. It
was all worse.
Again minute after minute elapsed, and hour after
hour, and again the same, and again no end, and more
and more terrible the inevitable end.
Yes, call GerAsim," he answered to Peter's question.
His wife returned late in the night. She entered on
tiptoe, but he heard her. He opened his eyes and has-
tened to shut them again. She wanted to send Ger6sim
away and to sit up with him. He opened his eyes, and
"Do you suffer very much ?"
"It makes no difference."
"Take some opium."
He consented, and took some. She went away.
Until about three o'clock he was in agonizing oblivion.
It seemed to him that he with his pain was being shoved
somewhere into a narrow, black, and deep bag, and shoved
farther and farther, without coming out of it. And this
terrible act was accompanied by suffering. And he was
afraid, and wanted to go through the bag, and fought, and
helped along. And suddenly he tore away, and fell, and
woke up. The same GerAsim was sitting at his feet on
the bed, drowsing calmly and patiently. But Ivan Ilich
was lying, his emaciated, stockinged feet resting on Ger6-
sim's shoulders, and there was the same candle with the
shade, and the same uninterrupted pain.
Go away, Gerasim," he whispered.
"Never mind, sir, I will sit up."
He took off his feet, and lay down sidewise on his arm
and began to feel pity for himself. He just waited for
Gerasim to go to the adjoining room, and no longer re-
strained himself, but burst out into tears, like a child.
68 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
He wept on account of his helplessness, his terrible lon:li-
ness, the cruelty of men, the cruelty of God, the absen.ce
Why hast Thou done all this? Why didst Thou
bring me to this? Why, why dost Thou torment me so
He did not expect any answer, and was weeping
because there was no answer and could be none. The
pain rose again, but he did not stir, did not call. He said
"Go on, strike me! But for what ? What have I
done to Thee? For what?"
Then he grew silent and stopped not only weeping, but
also breathing, and became all attention: it was as though
he listened, not to the voice which spoke with sounds,
but to the voice of his soul, to the train of thoughts
which rose in him.
What do you want?" was the first clear expression,
capable of being uttered in words, which he heard.
"What do you want? What do you want?" he
repeated to himself. "What ? Not to suffer. To live!"
And again he abandoned himself wholly to attention,
to such tense listening, that his pain even did not
To live ? To live how ?" asked the voice of his soul.
To live as I used to live before, well, pleasantly."
As you lived before, well and pleasantly ?" asked a
voice. And he began in imagination to pass in review
the best minutes of his pleasant life. But, strange
to say, all these best minutes of his pleasant life now
seemed to him to be different from what they had seemed
to be before, all of them, except the first recollections
of childhood. There, in childhood, there had been some-
thing really agreeable, with which it would be possible
to live if life should return; but the man who had expe-
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
rienced those pleasant sensations was no more; it was
like a recollection of somebody else.
As soon as there began that which resulted in the
present man, in Ivan Ilich, everything which then had ap-
peared as joys now melted in his sight and changed into
something insignificant and even abominable.
And the farther away from childhood and nearer to the
present, the more insignificant and doubtful were the joys.
This began with the law school. There had been there
something truly good; there had been there merriment,
friendship, hopes. But in the upper classes these good
minutes had happened more rarely; those were the rec-
ollections of the love of woman. Then all got mixed, and
there was still less of what was good. Farther on there
was still less of what was good, and the farther, the less.
The marriage -so sudden, and the disenchantment,
and the odour from my wife's mouth, and sensuality, and
hypocrisy I And this dead service, and these cares about
the money, and thus passed a year, and two, and ten, and
twenty, all the time the same. The farther, the deader.
It was as though I were going evenly down-hill, imagining
that I was going up-hill. And so it was. In public opinion
I went up-hill, and just in that proportion did my life
vanish under me. And now it is all done, go and
So what is this? Why ? Impossible. It cannot be
that life should be so senseless and so abominable And
if it has indeed been so abominable and meaningless, what
sense is there in dying, and in dying with suffering ?
Something is wrong.
"Perhaps I did not live the proper way," it suddenly
occurred to him. But how can that be, since I did every-
thing that was demanded of me ?" he said to himself, and
immediately he repelled from himself this only solution
of the whole enigma of life and of death, as something
70 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILfCH
What do you want now? To live? To live how 1
To live as you live in the court, when the bailiff proclaims,
'The court is coming!' The court is coming, the
court is coming!" he repeated to himself. "Here is the
court! But I am not guilty !" he shouted in anger. "For
what ?" And he stopped weeping and, turning his face
to the wall, began to think of nothing but this one thing:
"Why, for what is all this terror?"
But, no matter how much he thought, he found no
answer. And when the thought occurred to him, and it
occurred to him often, that all this was due to the fact
that he had not lived in the proper way, he immediately
recalled all the regularity of his life, and dispelled this
Two more weeks passed. Ivan Ilich no longer rose from
his divan. He did not want to lie in his bed, and lay
on the divan. Lying nearly all the time with his face to
the wall, he suffered in loneliness the same insoluble suf-
ferings, and in loneliness thought the same insoluble
thought. "What is this ? Is this really death ?" And
an inner voice answered him: "Yes, it is." What are
these torments for ?" and the voice answered: "For no
special reason." After that and outside of that there was
From the very beginning of his sickness, from the first
time that he went to see the doctor, his life was divided
into two opposite moods which gave way to one another:/
now it was despair and the expectancy of incredible and'
terrible death, and now hope and an absorbing observa-j
tion of the activity of his body. Now there was before
his eyes nothing but his kidney or gut, which had for the
time being deflected from the fulfilment of its obligations,
and now it was the one incomprehensible, terrible death,
from which it was impossible to be freed in any way
These two moods alternated from the very beginning of
his sickness; but the farther his disease proceeded, the
more doubtful and fantastic did his imagination grow in
respect to the kidney, and the more real came to be the
consciousness of impending death.
He needed but to recall what he had been three
months before and what he now was, to recall how
72 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
evenly he had been going down-hill, in order that every
possibility of hope should be destroyed.
During the last stage of the loneliness in which he
was, lying with his face turned to the back of the divan,
of that loneliness amidst a populous city and his numer-
ous acquaintances and his family,- a loneliness fuller
than which can nowhere be found,-neither at the
bottom of the sea, nor in the earth,-during the last
stages of this terrible loneliness Ivan Ilich lived in his
imagination only in the past. One after another there
arose before him pictures of his past. They always began
with what was nearest in time and ran back to what was
most remote, to childhood, and there they stopped. If
Ivan Ilich thought of the stewed prunes which he was
offered to-day to eat, he recalled the raw, wrinkled French
prunes of his childhood, their particular taste, and the
abundance of saliva when he reached the stone, and side
by side with this recollection of the taste there arose a
whole series of recollections from that time, the nurse,
the brother, the toys.
"I must not think of this, -it is too painful," Ivan
Ilich said to himself, and again transferred himself to the
present. A button on the back of the divan and wrin-
kles in the morocco. "The morocco is expensive,- not
durable,- there was a quarrel on account of it. It was
a different kind of morocco, and a different quarrel, when
we tore father's portfolio, and were punished, and mother
brought us patties." And again his thoughts stopped at
his childhood, and again he felt a pain, and tried to dis-
pel it and to think of something else.
And again, together with this train of his recollections,
another train of recollections passed through his soul as
to how his disease increased and grew. Again it was the
same: the farther back, the more there was of life. There
was more good in life and more of life itself. Both
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
"Just as my suffering is growing worse and worse, so
my whole life has been getting worse and worse," he
thought. There was one bright point there behind, in
the beginning of life, and then everything grows blacker
and blacker, and goes faster and faster. ('In inverse pro- -
portion to the square of the distance from death,' thought
Ivan Ilich. And this representation of a stone flying
downward with increasing rapidity fell into his soul.
Life, a series of increasing sufferings, flew more and more
rapidly toward its end, a most terrible suffering. I
fly-" He trembled, and shook, and wanted to resist;
but he knew that it was useless to resist, and again he
looked at the back of the divan with eyes weary from
looking, which could not help but look at what was in
front of him, and he waited and waited for that terrible
fall, push, and destruction.
It is impossible to resist," he said to himself. But
if I only understood what it is all for. And this is im-
possible. One might be able to explain it, if it could be
said that I had not lived properly. But that can by no
means be asserted," he said to himself, as he recalled all
the lawfulness, regularity, and decency of his life. "It is
impossible to admit this," he said to himself, smiling with
his lips, as though some one could see this smile of his
and be deceived by it. There is no explanation! Tor-
ment, death Why?"
THUS passed two weeks. During these weeks there
took place an event which had been desired by Ivan Ilich
and his wife. Petrishchev made a formal proposal. This
happened in the evening. On the following day Praskdvya
F4dorovna entered her husband's room, wondering how
she should announce F6dor Petr6vich's proposal to Ivan
Ilich, but that very night Ivan Ilich had taken a turn for
the worst. Praskdvya F4dorovna found him on the same
divan, but in a new position. He was lying on his back
and groaning and looking in front of him with an arrested
She began to speak of the medicines. He transferred
his look to her. She did not finish saying what she had
begun, such malice, especially to her, was expressed in
For Christ's sake, let me die in peace," he said.
She wanted to go away, but just then her daughter
entered, and she went up to him to greet him. He looked
at his daughter in the same way as at his wife, and in
reply to her questions about his health he said dryly to
her that he would soon free them all from himself. Both
grew silent and, after sitting awhile, went out.
"In what way is it our fault ?" Liza said to her
mother. "It is as though we had done something. I
am sorry for papa, but why does he torment us ?"
The doctor arrived at the usual hour. Ivan Ilich
answered him, Yes, no," without taking his glance of
fury from him, and finally said:
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
You know yourself that nothing will help me, so let
"We can alleviate your suffering," said the doctor.
"You cannot do that, either,- let it go."
The doctor went into the drawing-room and informed
Praskdvya FNdorovna that he was in a very bad state,
and that there was one means, opium, in order to
alleviate the sufferings, which must be terrible.
The doctor said that his physical suffering was terrible,
and that was true; but more terrible than his physical
suffering was his moral suffering, and in this lay his chief
His moral suffering consisted in this, that on that night,
as he looked upon Gerdsim's sleepy, good-natured face
with its prominent cheek-bones, it suddenly occurred to
him, What if indeed my whole life, my conscious life,
was not the right thing ?"
It occurred to him that what before had presented itself
to him as an utter impossibility, namely, that he had
passed all his life improperly, might after all be the truth.
It occurred to him that those faint endeavours at strug-
gling against that which was regarded as good by persons
in superior positions, faint endeavours which he had im-
mediately repelled from himself, might be real, while
everything else might be the wrong thing. He tried to
defend all this to himself. And suddenly he felt the
weakness of everything which he was defending, and
there was nothing to defend.
"And if this is so," he said to himself, and I go away
from life with the consciousness of having ruined every-
thing which was given me, and that it is impossible to
mend it, what then ?"
He lay down on his back and began to pass his life in
review in an entirely new fashion. When, in the morn-
ing, he saw the lackey, then his wife, then his daughter,
then the doctor, every one of their motions, every word of
76 THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
theirs confirmed for him the terrible truth which had
been revealed to him the night before. In them he saw
himself, all that he had been living by, and saw clearly
that all that was not the right thing, that it was all a
terrible, huge deception, which concealed both life and
death. This consciousness increased, multiplied tenfold
his physical sufferings. He groaned and tossed about and
picked at his clothes. It seemed to him that his clothes
choked and suffocated him. And for this he hated them.
He was given a big dose of opium and he fell into
oblivion, but at dinner the same began once more. He
drove all away from himself, and tossed from one place
His wife came to him, and said:
Jean, my darling, do this for me." (" For me ? ") "It
cannot hurt, and frequently it helps. Healthy people
frequently do it."
He opened his eyes wide.
What? Communion ? What for ? It is not neces-
She burst out weeping.
"Yes, my dear? I will send for our priest, he is
such a nice man."
"All right, very well," he muttered.
When the priest came and took his confession, he soft-
ened, seemed to feel a relief from his doubts, and so from
his suffering, and for a moment was assailed by hope.
He began once more to think of his blind gut and the
possibility of mending it. He took his communion with
tears in his eyes.
When, after the communion, he was put down on the
bed, he for a moment felt easier, and again there appeared
hope of life. He began to think of the operation which
had been proposed to him. "I want to live, to live," he
said to himself. His wife came back to congratulate
him; she said the customary words, and added:
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH 77
"Truly, are you not feeling better ?"
Without looking at her, he said, Yes."
Her attire, her figure, the expression of her face, the
sound of her voice, everything told him one and
the same thing: It is not the right thing. Everything
which you have lived by is a lie, a deception, which con-
ceals from you life and death." The moment he thought
so, there arose his hatred, and with his hatred came
physical, agonizing sufferings, and with the sufferings the
consciousness of inevitable, near perdition. Something
new had taken place: something began to screw up and
shoot, and to choke him.
The expression of his face, when he uttered, Yes," was
terrible. Having said this Yes," he looked straight into
her face and with unusual rapidity for his weakness
turned his face downward, and called out:
Go away, go away, leave me alone !"
FROM this moment there began that cry which lasted for
three days and was so terrible that it was not possible to
hear it without horror through two doors. At the mo-
ment when he answered his wife, he understood that he
was lost, that there was no return, that the end had come,
the real end, and yet his doubt was not solved, -it
remained the doubt it had been.
o i Oo Oo !" he cried, in various intonations. He
had begun to cry, "I do not want to!" and continued to
cry the sound oo."
During the three days, in the course of which time did
not exist for him, he fluttered about in that black bag
whither an invisible, invincible force was shoving him.
He struggled as a prisoner condemned to death struggles
in the hands of the hangman, knowing that he cannot be
saved; and with every minute he felt that, in spite of all
the efforts of the struggle, he was coming nearer and
nearer to what terrified him. He felt that his suffering
consisted in his being shoved into that black hole, and
still more in his not being able to get through it. What
hindered him from crawling through was the conscious-
ness of this, that his life was good. This justification of
his life grappled him and did not allow him to get on
and tormented him more than anything.
Suddenly a certain force pushed him in the chest and
in the side, and still more compressed his throat, and he
fell into the hole, and there, at the end of the hole, there
was some light. What happened to him was what
happens in a railway car, when a man thinks that he is
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
riding forward, while he is riding backward, and suddenly
discovers the real direction.
"Yes, it was all the wrong thing," he said to himself,
"but that is nothing. It is possible, it is possible to do
the right thing. What is the right thing ?" he asked
himself, and suddenly grew quiet.
This happened at the end of the third day, two hours
before his death. At just this time the little gymnasiast
stole quietly up to his father, and walked over to his bed.
The dying man was crying pitifully and tossing about his
hands. His hand fell on the head of the little gymnasiast.
The little gymnasiast caught it and pressed it to his lips,
and burst out weeping.
Just then Ivin Ilich tumbled in and saw the light, and
it was revealed to him that his life had not been what it
ought to have been, but that it was still possible to mend
it. He asked himself: What is the right thing ?" and
he grew silent, and listened. Here he felt that some one
was kissing his hand. He opened his eyes and glanced
at his son. He was sorry for him. His wife came up
to him. He glanced at her. She looked at him with a
desperate expression, her mouth being wide open and the
tears remaining unwiped on her nose. He was sorry for
"Yes, I am tormenting them," he thought. They are
sorry, but they will be better off when I am dead." That
was what he meant to say, but he did not have the
strength to utter it. "However, what is the use of talk-
ing ? I must do," he thought. He indicated his son to
his wife with his glance, and said:
Take him away am sorry and you, too "
He wanted to add, Forgive," but said," Forgigive," and
being unable to correct himself, he waved his hand, know-
ing that who needed vould undersuana.
Suddenly it became clear to him that what had been
vexing him and could not come out, now was coming out
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILICH
all at once, from two sides, from ten sides, from all sides.
They were to be pitied; it was necessary to do something
to save them pain, to free them and free himself from
How good and how simple !" he thought. And the
pain?" he asked himself. "What of it? Well, pain,
where are you ?"
He began to listen.
Yes, here it is. Well, let it pain."
"And death? Where is it ?"
And he sought his former customary fear of death, and
could not find it.
"Where is it? What death ?"
There was no fear, because there was also no death.
Instead of death there was a light.
"So this it is 1" he suddenly spoke out in a loud voice.
"What joy !"
For him all this took place in one moment, and the
significance of this moment no longer changed. But for
those who were present the agony lasted two hours longer.
Something palpitated in his heart, and his emaciated body
jerked. Then the palpitation and the rale grew rarer and
"It is ended !" some one said over him.
He heard these words and repeated them in his soul.
"Death is ended," he said to himself. It is no more."
He inhaled the air, stopped in the middle of his breath,
stretched himself, and died.
March 22, 1886.
THE POWER OF DARKNESS
Or, When the Claw Is Caught the Whole Bird
THE POWER OF DARKNESS
DRAMATIC PERSONAE OF ACT I.
PETER, a rich peasant, forty-two years of age; married for
the second time; sickly.
ANISYA, his wife, thirty-two years of age; a dandyish
AKULfNA, Peter's daughter by his first marriage, sixteen
years of age; hard of hearing and silly.
ANYiTKA, a second daughter, ten years old.
NIKiTA, their hired hand, twenty-five years old; a fop.
AKiM, Nikita's father, fifty years old; homely, and God-
MATR NA, his wife, fifty years old.
MARINA, an orphan girl, twenty-two years old.
The action takes place in a large village, in autumn. The
scene represents the inside of Peter's spacious hut.
Peter is seated on a bench, mending a horse-collar.
Anisya and Akulina are spinning.
SCENE I. Peter, Anisya, and Akulina (the last two
PETER (looking through the window). The horses have
gone away again. Before we know it the colt will be
killed. Nikita! Oh, Nikita! Are you deaf? (Listens.
To the women.) Stop your singing, I can't hear a
NIKITA'S voice, in the yard. What?
PETER. Drive in the horses !
NIKiTA'S voice. I will! Only give me a chance!
PETER (shaking his head). Oh, these hired hands If
I were a well man, I would not have one for the world.
There is only worry with them. (Gets up and sits down
again.) Nikita I shall get no answer. I wish one
of you would go. Akulina, go and drive them in!
AKULINA. What, the horses?
PETER. What else did I say ?
AKULiNA. Right away. (Exit.)
SCENE II. Peter and Anisya.
PETER. The young~ camp is not much of a farmer.
It takes him an age to do a thing.
ANISYA. You aren't very lively yourself. From the