Death of Ivan Ilych
by Leo Tolstoy
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Tolstoy's novella, written just after the author's conversion to Christianity, is now considered a literary masterpiece. In it, death suddenly confronts Ivan, a well-to-do middle-aged Russian man, in the form of an acute illness. Standing on the edge of death's yawning chasm, Ivan looks back at his life and its comparative vacuity. Before he fell ill, earning enough money for some elegant furniture concerned him, but now eternity and destiny wrack his spirit. Tolstoy's startlingly precise portrayal of human anxiety, desire, epiphany, and love has gripped countless readers from all walks of life, and many of them report that the story not only moved them to tears, but also had a profound impact upon how they view life and its purpose. This beloved book is essential to any library.