Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Death of Ivan Ilyich - holiday post I

The plan for this week of holiday was that I picked a couple of light reads and in between playing with my son who is on half term I could knock off a couple of books. The plan got slightly derailed by the Proust that dragged into Monday so now I am going to put up bullet points for the first third of The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy.

Here are the highlights of the first two chapters

* The story starts in the law courts with the news of Ivan Ilyich’s death being discussed by colleagues who have something to gain – in promotions – from his demise

* One of his colleagues Pytor Ivanovich decides to go to the funeral, although he tries to escape before its starts to go and play cards, but gets caught by the widow who wants his advice about how to get money out of treasury in death benefits

* He then leaves and heads off to play cards as originally intended but you are left with the feeling that the family, the son and daughter especially, seem to hold him somehow responsible for their father’s death, which was an agony of screaming that lasted three days

* The second chapter fills in the personal background on the dead man with him the being the second of three brothers and not the best or the worst and a gifted social adapter that had pulled himself up in the legal profession to die at the age of 45

* Things are going well, he meets and marries a well respected girl, but as she gets closer to delivering her first child she becomes jealous and demanding and crabby and this only gets worse leading to him focusing on his work and the husband and wife drifting apart

More tomorrow…

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