The Death of Ivan Ilych


  by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy




   Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude


   Distributed by the Tolstoy Library






   During an interval in the Melvinski trial in the large building of the

   Law Courts the members and public prosecutor met in Ivan Egorovich

   Shebek's private room, where the conversation turned on the celebrated

   Krasovski case. Fedor Vasilievich warmly maintained that it was not

   subject to their jurisdiction, Ivan Egorovich maintained the contrary,

   while Peter Ivanovich, not having entered into the discussion at the

   start, took no part in it but looked through the Gazette which had just

   been handed in.


   "Gentlemen," he said, "Ivan Ilych has died!"


   "You don't say so!"


   "Here, read it yourself," replied Peter Ivanovich, handing Fedor

   Vasilievich the paper still damp from the press. Surrounded by a black

   border were the words: "Praskovya Fedorovna Golovina, with profound

   sorrow, informs relatives and friends of the demise of her beloved

   husband Ivan Ilych Golovin, Member of the Court of Justice, which

   occurred on February the 4th of this year 1882. The funeral will take

   place on Friday at one o'clock in the afternoon."


   Ivan Ilych had been a colleague of the gentlemen present and was liked

   by them all. He had been ill for some weeks with an illness said to be

   incurable. His post had been kept open for him, but there had been




   conjectures that in case of his death Alexeev might receive his

   appointment, and that either Vinnikov or Shtabel would succeed Alexeev.

   So on receiving the news of Ivan Ilych's death the first thought of

   each of the gentlemen in that private room was of the changes and

   promotions it might occasion among themselves or their acquaintances.


   "I shall be sure to get Shtabel's place or Vinnikov's," thought Fedor

   Vasilievich. "I was promised that long ago, and the promotion means an

   extra eight hundred rubles a year for me besides the allowance."


   "Now I must apply for my brother-in-law's transfer from Kaluga,"

   thought Peter Ivanovich. "My wife will be very glad, and then she won't

   be able to say that I never do anything for her relations."


   "I thought he would never leave his bed again," said Peter Ivanovich

   aloud. "It's very sad."


   "But what really was the matter with him?"


   "The doctors couldn't say -- at least they could, but each of them said

   something different. When last I saw him I thought he was getting



   "And I haven't been to see him since the holidays. I always meant to go."


   "Had he any property?"


   "I think his wife had a little -- but something quiet trifling."


   "We shall have to go to see her, but they live so terribly far away."


   "Far away from you, you mean. Everything's far away from your place."




   "You see, he never can forgive my living on the other side of the

   river," said Peter Ivanovich, smiling at Shebek. Then, still talking of

   the distances between different parts of the city, they returned to the



   Besides considerations as to the possible transfers and promotions

   likely to result from Ivan Ilych's death, the mere fact of the death of

   a near acquaintance aroused, as usual, in all who heard of it the

   complacent feeling that, "It is he who is dead and not I."


   Each one thought or felt, "Well, he's dead but I'm alive!" But the more

   intimate of Ivan Ilych's acquaintances, his so-called friends, could

   not help thinking also that they would now have to fulfil the very

   tiresome demands of propriety by attending the funeral service and

   paying a visit of condolence to the widow.


   Fedor Vasilievich and Peter Ivanovich had been closest to him.
   Peter Ivanovich had studied law with Ivan Ilych and had

   considered himself to be under obligations to him.


   Having told his wife at dinner-time of Ivan Ilych's death, and of his

   conjecture that it might be possible to get her brother transferred to

   their circuit, Peter Ivanovich sacrificed his usual nap, put on his

   evening clothes and drove to Ivan Ilych's house.


   At the entrance stood a carriage and two cabs. Leaning against the wall

   in the hall downstairs near the cloakstand was a coffin-lid covered

   with cloth of gold, ornamented with gold cord and tassels, that had

   been polished up with metal powder. Two ladies in black were taking off

   their fur cloaks. Peter Ivanovich recognized one of them as Ivan

   Ilych's sister, but the other was a stranger to him. His colleague




   Schwartz was just coming downstairs, but on seeing Peter Ivanovich

   enter he stopped and winked at him, as if to say: "Ivan Ilych has made

   a mess of things -- not like you and me."


   Schwartz's face with his Piccadilly whiskers, and his slim figure in

   evening dress, had as usual an air of elegant solemnity which

   contrasted with the playfulness of his character and had a special

   piquancy here, or so it seemed to Peter Ivanovich.


   Peter Ivanovich allowed the ladies to precede him and slowly followed

   them upstairs. Schwartz did not come down but remained where he was,

   and Peter Ivanovich understood that he wanted to arrange where they

   should play whist that evening. The ladies went upstairs to the

   widow's room, and Schwartz with seriously compressed lips but a playful

   look in his eyes, indicated by a twist of his eyebrows the room to the

   right where the body lay.


   Peter Ivanovich, like everyone else on such occasions, entered feeling

   uncertain what he would have to do. All he knew was that at such times

   it is always safe to cross oneself. But he was not quite sure whether

   one should make obeisances while doing so. He therefore adopted a

   middle course. On entering the room he began crossing himself and made

   a slight movement resembling a bow. At the same time, as far as the

   motion of his head and arm allowed, he surveyed the room. Two young men




   -- apparently nephews, one of whom was a high-school pupil -- were

   leaving the room, crossing themselves as they did so. An old woman was

   standing motionless, and a lady with strangely arched eyebrows was

   saying something to her in a whisper. A vigorous, resolute Church

   Reader, in a frock-coat, was reading something in a loud voice with an

   expression that precluded any contradiction. The butler's assistant,

   Gerasim, stepping lightly in front of Peter Ivanovich, was strewing

   something on the floor. Noticing this, Peter Ivanovich was immediately

   aware of a faint odour of a decomposing body.


   The last time he had called on Ivan Ilych, Peter Ivanovich had seen

   Gerasim in the study. Ivan Ilych had been particularly fond of him and

   he was performing the duty of a sick nurse.


   Peter Ivanovich continued to make the sign of the cross slightly

   inclining his head in an intermediate direction between the coffin, the

   Reader, and the icons on the table in a corner of the room. Afterwards,

   when it seemed to him that this movement of his arm in crossing himself

   had gone on too long, he stopped and began to look at the body.


   The dead man lay, as dead men always lie, in a specially heavy way, his

   rigid limbs sunk in the soft cushions of the coffin, with the head

   forever bowed on the pillow. His yellow waxen brow with bald patches

   over his sunken temples was thrust up in the way peculiar to the dead,

   the protruding nose seeming to press on the upper lip. He was much

   changed and grown even thinner since Peter Ivanovich had last seen him,

   but, as is always the case with the dead, his face had acquired an expression
   of greater beauty-- above all more dignified than when he was alive.




   The expression on the face said that what was necessary had been
   accomplished, and accomplished rightly. Besides this there was in that

   expression a reproach and a warning to the living. This warning seemed to
   Peter Ivanovich out of place, or at least not applicable to him. He felt a

   certain discomfort and so he hurriedly crossed himself once more and

   turned and went out of the door -- too hurriedly and too regardless of

   propriety, as he himself was aware.


   Schwartz was waiting for him in the adjoining room with legs spread

   wide apart and both hands toying with his top-hat behind his back. The

   mere sight of that playful, well-groomed, and elegant figure refreshed

   Peter Ivanovich. He felt that Schwartz was above all these happenings

   and would not surrender to any depressing influences. His very look

   said that this incident of a church service for Ivan Ilyich could not be

   a sufficient reason for infringing the order of the session -- in other

   words, that it would certainly not prevent his unwrapping a new pack of

   cards and shuffling them that evening while a footman placed fresh

   candles on the table: in fact, that there was no reason for supposing

   that this incident would hinder their spending the evening agreeably.

   Indeed he said this in a whisper as Peter Ivanovich passed him,

   proposing that they should meet for a game at Fedor Vasilievich's.


   But apparently Peter Ivanovich was not destined to play whist that

   evening. Praskovya Fedorovna (a short, fat woman who despite all

   efforts to the contrary had continued to broaden steadily from her

   shoulders downwards and who had the same extraordinarily arched

   eyebrows as the lady who had been standing by the coffin), dressed all




   in black, her head covered with lace, came out of her own room with

   some other ladies, conducted them to the room where the dead body lay,

   and said:


   "The service will begin immediately. Please go in."


   Schwartz, making an indefinite bow, stood still, evidently neither

   accepting nor declining this invitation. Praskovya Fedorovna

   recognizing Peter Ivanovich, sighed, went close up to him, took his

   hand, and said: "I know you were a true friend to Ivan Ilych . . . "

   and looked at him awaiting some suitable response. And Peter Ivanovich

   knew that, just as it had been the right thing to cross himself in that

   room, so what he had to do here was to press her hand, sigh, and say,

   "Believe me . . . " So he did all this and as he did it felt that the

   desired result had been achieved: that both he and she were touched.


   "Come with me. I want to speak to you before it begins," said the

   widow. "Give me your arm."


   Peter Ivanovich gave her his arm and they went to the inner rooms,

   passing Schwartz who winked at Peter Ivanovich compassionately.


   "That does for our whist! Don't object if we find another player.

   Perhaps you can cut in when you do escape," said his playful look.


   Peter Ivanovich sighed still more deeply and despondently, and

   Praskovya Fedorovna pressed his arm gratefully. When they reached the

   drawing-room, upholstered in pink cretonne and lighted by a dim lamp,

   they sat down at the table -- she on a sofa and Peter Ivanovich on a

   low pouffe, the springs of which yielded spasmodically under his

   weight. Praskovya Fedorovna had been on the point of warning him to

   take another seat, but felt that such a warning was out of keeping with

   her present condition and so changed her mind.




   As he sat down on the pouffe Peter Ivanovich recalled how Ivan Ilych had
   arranged this room and had consulted him regarding this pink cretonne with
   green leaves. The whole room was full of furniture and knick-knacks, and on
   her way to the sofa the lace of the widow's black shawl caught on the edge of

   the table. Peter Ivanovich rose to detach it, and the springs of the

   pouffe, relieved of his weight, rose also and gave him a push. The

   widow began detaching her shawl herself, and Peter Ivanovich again sat

   down, suppressing the rebellious springs of the pouffe under him. But

   the widow had not quite freed herself and Peter Ivanovich got up again,

   and again the pouffe rebelled and even creaked. When this was all over

   she took out a clean cambric handkerchief and began to weep. The

   episode with the shawl and the struggle with the pouffe had cooled

   Peter Ivanovich's emotions and he sat there with a sullen look on his

   face. This awkward situation was interrupted by Sokolov, Ivan Ilych's

   butler, who came to report that the plot in the cemetery that Praskovya

   Fedorovna had chosen would cost two hundred rubles. She stopped weeping

   and, looking at Peter Ivanovich with the air of a victim, remarked in

   French that it was very hard for her. Peter Ivanovich made a silent

   gesture signifying his full conviction that it must indeed be so.


   "Please smoke," she said in a magnanimous yet crushed voice, and turned

   to discuss with Sokolov the price of the plot for the grave.




   Peter Ivanovich while lighting his cigarette heard her inquiring very

   circumstantially into the prices of different plots in the cemetery and

   finally decide which she would take. When that was done she gave

   instructions about engaging the choir. Sokolov then left the room.


   "I look after everything myself," she told Peter Ivanovich, shifting

   the albums that lay on the table; and noticing that the table was

   endangered by his cigarette-ash, she immediately passed him an

   ash-tray, saying as she did so: "I consider it an affectation to say

   that my grief prevents my attending to practical affairs. On the

   contrary, if anything can -- I won't say console me, but -- distract

   me, it is seeing to everything concerning him." She again took out her

   handkerchief as if preparing to cry, but suddenly, as if mastering her

   feeling, she shook herself and began to speak calmly. "But there is

   something I want to talk to you about."


   Peter Ivanovich bowed, keeping control of the springs of the pouffe,

   which immediately began quivering under him.


   "He suffered terribly the last few days."


   "Did he?" said Peter Ivanovich.


   "Oh, terribly! He screamed unceasingly, not for minutes but for hours.

   For the last three days he screamed incessantly. It was unendurable. I

   cannot understand how I bore it; you could hear him three rooms off.

   Oh, what I have suffered!"




   "Is it possible that he was conscious all that time?" asked Peter



   "Yes," she whispered. "To the last moment. He took leave of us a

   quarter of an hour before he died, and asked us to take Volodya away."


   The thought of the suffering of this man he had known so intimately,

   first as a merry little boy, then as a schoolmate, and later as a

   grown-up colleague, suddenly struck Peter Ivanovich with horror,

   despite an unpleasant consciousness of his own and this woman's

   dissimulation. He again saw that brow, and that nose pressing down on

   the lip, and felt afraid for himself.


   "Three days of frightful suffering and the death! Why, that might

   suddenly, at any time, happen to me," he thought, and for a moment felt

   terrified. But -- he did not himself know how -- the customary

   reflection at once occurred to him that this had happened to Ivan Ilych

   and not to him, and that it should not and could not happen to him, and

   that to think that it could would be yielding to depressing which he

   ought not to do, as Schwartz's expression plainly showed. After which

   reflection Peter Ivanovich felt reassured, and began to ask with

   interest about the details of Ivan Ilych's death, as though death was

   an accident natural to Ivan Ilych but certainly not to himself.


   After many details of the really dreadful physical sufferings Ivan

   Ilych had endured (which details he learnt only from the effect those

   sufferings had produced on Praskovya Fedorovna's nerves) the widow

   apparently found it necessary to get to business.




   "Oh, Peter Ivanovich, how hard it is! How terribly, terribly hard!" and

   she again began to weep.


   Peter Ivanovich sighed and waited for her to finish blowing her nose.

   When she had done so he said, "Believe me . . . " and she again began

   talking and brought out what was evidently her chief concern with him

   -- namely, to question him as to how she could obtain a grant of money

   from the government on the occasion of her husband's death. She made it

   appear that she was asking Peter Ivanovich's advice about her pension,

   but he soon saw that she already knew about that to the minutest

   detail, more even than he did himself. She knew how much could be got

   out of the government in consequence of her husband's death, but wanted

   to find out whether she could not possibly extract something more.

   Peter Ivanovich tried to think of some means of doing so, but after

   reflecting for a while and, out of propriety, condemning the government

   for its niggardliness, he said he thought that nothing more could be

   got. Then she sighed and evidently began to devise means of getting rid

   of her visitor. Noticing this, he put out his cigarette, rose, pressed

   her hand, and went out into the hall.


   In the dining-room where the clock stood that Ivan Ilych had liked so

   much and had bought at an antique shop, Peter Ivanovich met a priest

   and a few acquaintances who had come to attend the service, and he

   recognized Ivan Ilych's daughter, a handsome young woman. She was in




   black and her slim figure appeared slimmer than ever. She had a gloomy,

   determined, almost angry expression, and bowed to Peter Ivanovich as

   though he were in some way to blame. Behind her, with the same offended

   look, stood a wealthy young man, an examining magistrate, whom Peter

   Ivanovich also knew and who was her fiancée, as he had heard. He bowed

   mournfully to them and was about to pass into the death-chamber, when

   from under the stairs appeared the figure of Ivan Ilych's schoolboy

   son, who was extremely like his father. He seemed a little Ivan Ilych,

   such as Peter Ivanovich remembered when they studied law together. His

   tear-stained eyes had in them the look that is seen in the eyes of boys

   of thirteen or fourteen who are not pure-minded. When he saw Peter

   Ivanovich he scowled morosely and shamefacedly. Peter Ivanovich nodded

   to him and entered the death-chamber. The service began: candles,

   groans, incense, tears, and sobs. Peter Ivanovich stood looking

   gloomily down at his feet. He did not look once at the dead man, did

   not yield to any depressing influence, and was one of the first to

   leave the room. There was no one in the anteroom, but Gerasim darted

   out of the dead man's room, rummaged with his strong hands among the

   fur coats to find Peter Ivanovich's and helped him on with it.


   "Well, friend Gerasim," said Peter Ivanovich, so as to say something.

   "It's a sad affair, isn't it?"




   "It's God's will. We shall all come to it someday," said Gerasim,

   displaying his teeth -- the even white teeth of a healthy peasant --

   and, like a man in the thick of urgent work, he briskly opened the

   front door, called the coachman, helped Peter Ivanovich into the

   sledge, and sprang back to the porch as if in readiness for what he had

   to do next.


   Peter Ivanovich found the fresh air particularly pleasant after the

   smell of incense, the dead body, and carbolic acid.


   "Where to sir?" asked the coachman.


   "It's not too late even now. . . . I'll call round on Fedor



   He accordingly drove there and found them just finishing the first

   rubber, so that it was quite convenient for him to cut in.







   Ivan Ilych's life had been most simple and most ordinary-- and

   most horrifying.


   He had been a member of the Court of Justice, and died at the age of

   forty-five. His father had been an official who after serving in

   various ministries and departments in Petersburg had made the sort of

   career which brings men to positions from which by reason of their long

   service they cannot be dismissed, though they are obviously unfit to

   hold any responsible position, and for whom therefore posts are

   specially created, which though fictitious carry salaries of from six

   to ten thousand rubles that are not fictitious, and in receipt of which

   they live on to a ripe old age.


   Such was the Privy Councillor and superfluous member of various

   superfluous institutions, Ilya Epimovich Golovin.


   He had three sons, of whom Ivan Ilych was the second. The eldest son

   was following in his father's footsteps only in another department, and

   was already approaching that stage in the service at which a similar

   sinecure would be reached. The third son was a failure. He had ruined

   his prospects in a number of positions and was not serving in the

   railway department. His father and brothers, and still more their

   wives, not merely disliked meeting him, but avoided remembering his

   existence unless compelled to do so. His sister had married Baron




   Greff, a Petersburg official of her father's type. Ivan Ilych was le

   phenix de la famille as people said. He was neither as cold and punctilious

   as his elder brother nor as reckless as the younger, but was a happy mean

   between the two -- an intelligent, polished, lively and agreeable man. He

   had studied with his younger brother at the School of Law, but the

   latter had failed to complete the course and was expelled when he was

   in the fifth class. Ivan Ilych finished the course creditably. Even when he

   was at the School of Law he was just what he remained for the rest of

   his life: a capable, cheerful, good-natured, and sociable man, though

   strict in the fulfillment of what he considered to be his duty: and he

   considered his duty all things so designated by those in authority.

   Neither as a boy nor as a man had he been a toady, but from early youth was

   by nature attracted to people of high station as a moth is drawn to the

   light, assimilating their ways and views of life and establishing

   friendly relations with them. All the enthusiasms of childhood and

   youth passed without leaving much trace on him; he succumbed to

   sensuality, to vanity, and in his last years at school to liberalism, but strictly
   within limits which his instinct unfailingly indicated to him as correct.


   As a student he had done things which had formerly seemed to him very

   horrid and made him feel disgusted with himself when he did them; but

   when later on he saw that such actions were done by people of good

   position and that they did not regard them as wrong, he was not quite able

   to regard them as right, but managed to forget about them entirely and

   not feel the least perturbed when he recalled them.




   Having graduated from the School of Law and qualified for the tenth

   rank of the civil service, and having received money from his father

   for his equipment, Ivan Ilych ordered himself clothes at Scharmer's,

   the fashionable tailor, hung a medallion inscribed respice finem on his

   watch-chain, took leave of his professor and the prince who was patron

   of the school, had a farewell dinner with his comrades at Donon's

   first-class restaurant, and with his new and fashionable luggage,

   linen, clothes, shaving and other toilet articles, and a traveling

   rug, all ordered and purchased at the finest shops, he set off for one of the

   provinces where through his father's influence, he had been attached to

   the governor as an official for special service.


   Ivan Ilych immediately arranged as easy and agreeable as it had been
   at law school. He performed his official task, made his career, and at the
   same time amused himself pleasantly and properly. Occasionally he paid
   official visits to country districts where he behaved with dignity both to his
   superiors and inferiors, and performed the duties entrusted to him, which
   related chiefly to the religious sectarians, with an exactitude and incorruptible
   honesty in which he could only take pride.


   In official matters, despite his youth and taste for frivolous gaiety,

   he was exceedingly reserved, punctilious, and even severe; but in

   society he was often playful and witty, and always good-natured,

   correct in his manner, a bon enfant, as the governor and his wife --

   with whom he was like one of the family -- used to say of him.




   In the province he had an affair with one of the ladies who threw themselves
   at the chic young lawyer, and there was also a milliner; and there were

   drinking bouts with visiting aides-de-camps, and after-supper

   trips to a certain street on the outskirts of town; and there were also attempts
   to curry favor with his chief and even with his chief's wife, but all this was
   done with such a tone of good breeding that no hard names could be applied
   to it. It all came under the heading of the French saying: "Il faut que jeunesse
   se passe.”
It was all done with clean hands, in clean linen, with French phrases,
   and above all among people of the best society and consequently with the
   approval of people of rank.


   So Ivan Ilych served for five years and then came a change in his

   official life. The new and reformed judicial institutions were

   introduced, and new men were needed.


   Ivan Ilych became such a new man.


   He was offered the post of examining magistrate, and he accepted it

   though the post was in another province and obliged him to give up the

   connexions he had formed and establish new ones. His friends met to give

   him a send-off; they had a group photograph taken and presented him

   with a silver cigarette-case, and he set off to his new post.




   As examining magistrate Ivan Ilych was just as comme il faut and

   respectable a man, inspiring general respect and capable of separating his

   official duties from his private life, as he had been when acting as an

   official on special service. His duties now as examining magistrate

   were fare more interesting and attractive than before. In his former

   position it had been pleasant to wear an undress uniform made by

   Scharmer, and to pass through the crowd of petitioners and officials

   who were timorously awaiting an audience with the governor, and who

   envied him as with free and easy gait he went straight into his chief's

   private room to have a cup of tea and a cigarette with him. But not

   many people had then been directly dependent on him -- only police

   officials and the religious sectarians when he went on special missions --
   and he liked to treat them politely, almost as comrades, as if he were letting

   them feel that he who had the power to crush them was treating them in

   this simple, friendly way. There were then but few such people. But

   now, as an examining magistrate, Ivan Ilych felt that everyone without

   exception, even the most important and self-satisfied, was in his

   power, and that he need only write a few words on a sheet of paper with

   a certain heading, and this or that important, self-satisfied person

   would be brought before him in the role of an accused person or a

   witness, and if he did not choose to allow him to sit down, would have

   to stand before him and answer his questions. Ivan Ilych never abused

   his power; he tried on the contrary to soften its expression, but the

   consciousness of it and the possibility of softening its effect,

   supplied the chief interest and attraction of his office. In his work




   itself, especially in his examinations, he very soon acquired a method

   of eliminating all considerations irrelevant to the legal aspect of the

   case, and reducing even the most complicated case to a form in which it

   would be presented on paper only in its externals, completely excluding

   his personal opinion of the matter, while above all observing every

   prescribed formality. The work was new and Ivan Ilych was one of the

   first men to apply the new Code of 1864.


   On taking up the post of examining magistrate in a new town, he made

   new acquaintances and connexions, placed himself on a new footing and

   assumed a somewhat different tone. He took up an attitude of rather

   dignified aloofness towards the provincial authorities, but picked out

   the best circle of legal gentlemen and wealthy gentry living in the

   town and assumed a tone of mild dissatisfaction with the government,

   of moderate liberalism, and of enlightened citizenship. At the same

   time, without at all altering the elegance of his toilet, he ceased

   shaving his chin and allowed his beard to grow as it pleased.


   Ivan Ilych settled down very pleasantly in this new town. The society

   there, which inclined towards opposition to the governor was friendly,

   his salary was larger, and he began to play whist, which he found added
   not a little to the pleasure of life, for he had a capacity for cards, played
   good-humouredly, and calculated rapidly and astutely, so that he usually won.




   After had worked there for two years, Ivan Ilych met his future wife,
   Praskovya Fedorovna Mikhel, who was the most attractive, clever, and
   brilliant girl of the set in which he moved, and among other amusements and

   relaxations from his labours as examining magistrate, Ivan Ilych began a light
   flirtation with her.


   As an official on special comissions he had been accustomed

   to dance, but now as an examining magistrate it was exceptional for him

   to do so. If he danced now, he did it as if to show that though he

   served under the reformed order of things, and had reached the fifth

   official rank, yet when it came to dancing he could do it better than

   most people. So at the end of an evening he sometimes danced with

   Praskovya Fedorovna, and it was chiefly during these dances that he

   captivated her. She fell in love with him. Ivan Ilych had at first no

   definite intention of marrying, but when the girl fell in love with him

   he said to himself: "Really, why shouldn't I marry?"


   Praskovya Fedorovna came of a good family, was not bad looking, and had

   a little money. Ivan Ilych might have aspired to a more brilliant

   match, but even this was good. He had his salary, and she, he hoped,

   would have an equal income. She was well connected, and was a sweet,

   pretty, and thoroughly correct young woman. To say that Ivan Ilych

   married because he fell in love with Praskovya Fedorovna and found that

   she sympathized with his views of life would be as incorrect as to say




   that he married because his social circle approved of the match. He was

   swayed by both these considerations: the marriage gave him personal

   satisfaction, and at the same time it was considered the right thing by

   the most highly placed of his associates.


   So Ivan Ilych got married.


   The preparations for marriage and the beginning of married life, with

   its conjugal caresses, new furniture, new crockery, and new linen,

   were very pleasant until his wife became pregnant -- so that Ivan Ilych

   had begun to think that marriage would not impair the easy, agreeable,

   gay and always decorous character of his life, approved of by society

   and regarded by himself as natural, but would even improve it. But from

   the first months of his wife's pregnancy, something new, unpleasant,

   depressing, and unseemly, and from which there was no way of escape,

   unexpectedly showed itself.


   His wife, without any reason -- de gaiete de coeur as Ivan Ilych

   expressed it to himself -- began to disturb the pleasure and propriety

   of their life. She began to be jealous without any cause, expected him

   to devote his whole attention to her, found fault with everything, and

   made coarse and ill-mannered scenes.


   At first Ivan Ilych hoped to escape from the unpleasantness of this

   state of affairs by the same easy and decorous relation to life that

   had served him heretofore: he tried to ignore his wife's disagreeable

   moods, continued to live in his usual easy and pleasant way, invited

   friends to his house for a game of cards, and also tried going out to

   his club or spending his evenings with friends. But one day his wife




   began upbraiding him so vigorously, using such coarse words, and

   continued to abuse him every time he did not satisfy her demands, so

   resolutely and with such evident determination not to give way till he

   submitted -- that is, till he stayed at home and was bored just as she

   was -- that Ivan Ilych was horrified. He now realized that matrimony --
   at any rate with Praskovya Fedorovna -- was not always conducive to the

   pleasures and amenities of life, but on the contrary often infringed

   both comfort and propriety, and that he must therefore entrench himself

   against such disruptions. And Ivan Ilych began to seek for means of

   doing so. His official duties were the one thing that imposed upon

   Praskovya Fedorovna, and by means of his official work and the duties

   attached to it he began struggling with his wife to secure his own



   With the birth of the baby, the attempts to feed it and the various

   failures in doing so, and with the real and imaginary illnesses of

   mother and child, in which Ivan Ilych's sympathy was demanded but
   about which he understood nothing, the need to fence off for himself a

   world for himself outside his family life became still more imperative.


   As his wife grew more irritable and exacting and Ivan Ilych transferred

   the center of gravity of his life more and more to his official work,

   so did he grow to like his work better and became more ambitious than



   Very soon, within a year of his wedding, Ivan Ilych had realized that

   marriage, though it may add some comforts to life, is in fact a very




   intricate and difficult affair , and that to do one's duty to it, that is,
   to lead a decorous life approved of by society, one must adopt a definite
   attitude to it just as one did with respect to work.


   And Ivan Ilych evolved such an attitude towards married life. He only

   required of it those conveniences -- dinner at home, housewife, and bed

   -- which it could give him, and above all that propriety of external

   forms required by public opinion. For the rest he looked for

   lighthearted pleasure and propriety, and was very thankful when he

   found them, but if he met with antagonism and querulousness he at once

   retired into his separate fenced-off world of official duties, where he

   found satisfaction.


   Ivan Ilych was esteemed for his diligent service, and after three years was
   made Assistant Public Prosecutor. His new duties, their importance, the

   possibility of indicting and imprisoning anyone he chose, the publicity

   his speeches received, and the success he had in all these things, made

   his work still more attractive.


   More children came. His wife became more and more petulant and

   irascible, but the attitude Ivan Ilych had adopted towards his home

   life rendered him almost impervious to her grumbling.


   After seven years' service in that town he was transferred to another

   province as Public Prosecutor. They moved, but were short of money and

   his wife did not like the new town. Though the salary was higher the cost
   of living was greater, besides which two of their children died and family
   life became still more unpleasant for Ivan Ilych.




   Praskovya Fedorovna blamed her husband for every inconvenience they

   encountered in their new home. Most of the conversations between

   husband and wife, especially as to the children's education, led to

   topics which recalled former quarrels, and these quarrels were apt to

   flare up again at any moment. There remained only those rare periods of

   amorousness which still came to them at times but did not last long.

   These were islets at which they anchored for a while and then again set

   out upon a sea of veiled hostility which showed itself in their

   aloofness from one another. This aloofness might have grieved Ivan

   Ilych had he considered that it ought not to exist, but he now regarded

   the position as normal, and even made it the goal at which he aimed in

   family life. His aim was to free himself more and more from those

   disturbances and to give them a semblance of harmlessness and

   propriety. He attained this by spending less and less time with his

   family, and when obliged to be at home he tried to safeguard his

   position by the presence of outsiders. The chief thing however was that

   he had his official duties. The whole interest of his life now centered

   in the official world and that interest absorbed him. The consciousness

   of his power, being able to ruin anybody he wished to ruin, the

   importance, even the external dignity of his entry into court, or

   meetings with his subordinates, his success with superiors and

   inferiors, and above all his masterly handling of cases, of which he

   was conscious -- all this gave him pleasure and filled his life,

   together with chats with his colleagues, dinners, and bridge. So that

   on the whole Ivan Ilych's life continued to flow as he considered it

   should do -- pleasantly and properly.




   So things continued for another seven years. His eldest daughter was

   then sixteen, another child had died, and only one son was left, a

   schoolboy and a subject of dissension. Ivan Ilych wanted to put him in

   the School of Law, but to spite him Praskovya Fedorovna entered him at

   the High School. The daughter had been educated at home and had turned

   out well: the boy did not learn badly either.








   Ivan Ilych spent seventeen years of his married life this way. He was

   already a Public Prosecutor of long standing, and had declined several

   proposed transfers while awaiting a more desirable post, when an

   unanticipated and unpleasant occurrence quite upset the peaceful course

   of his life. He was expecting to be offered the post of presiding judge

   in a University town, but Hoppe somehow came to the front and obtained

   the appointment instead. Ivan Ilych was infuriated, reproached Hoppe,

   and quarrelled both him and with his immediate superiors -- who became

   colder to him and again passed him over when other appointments were



   This was in 1880, the hardest year of Ivan Ilych's life. It was then

   that it became evident on the one hand that his salary was insufficient

   for them to live on, and on the other that he had been forgotten, and

   not only this, but that what was for him the most outrageous, heartless

   injustice appeared to others a quite ordinary occurrence. Even his

   father did not consider it his duty to help him. Ivan Ilych felt

   himself abandoned by everyone, and that they regarded his position with

   a salary of 3,500 rubles as quite normal and even fortunate. He alone

   knew that with the consciousness of the injustices done him, with his

   wife's incessant nagging, and with the debts he had contracted by

   living beyond his means, his position was far from normal.


   In order to save money that summer he obtained leave of absence and

   went with his wife to live in the country at her brother's place.


   In the country, without his work, he experienced not only boredom
   but intolerable anguish for the first time in his life, and he

   decided that it was impossible to go on living like that, and that it

   was necessary to take energetic measures.


   Having passed a sleepless night pacing up and down the veranda, he

   decided to go to Petersburg and bestir himself, in order to punish

   those who had failed to appreciate him and to get transferred to

   another ministry.


   Next day, despite many protests from his wife and her brother, he

   started for Petersburg with the sole object of obtaining a post with a

   salary of five thousand rubles a year. He was no longer bent on any

   particular department, or tendency, or kind of activity. All he now

   wanted was an appointment to another post with a salary of five

   thousand rubles, either in the administration, in the banks, with the

   railways in one of the Dowager Empress Marya's Charitable Institutions,
   or even in the customs -- but it had to carry with it a salary of five
   thousand rubles and be in a ministry other than that in which they had
   failed to appreciate him.


   And this quest of Ivan Ilych's was crowned with amazing  and

   unexpected success. At Kursk an acquaintance of his, F. I. Ilyin, got

   into the first-class carriage, sat down beside Ivan Ilych, and told him

   of a telegram just received by the governor of Kursk announcing that a

   change was about to take place in the ministry: Peter Ivanovich was to

   be superseded by Ivan Semonovich.




   The proposed change, apart from its significance for Russia, had a

   special significance for Ivan Ilych, because by bringing forward a new

   man, Peter Petrovich, and consequently his friend Zachar Ivanovich, it

   was highly favourable for Ivan Ilych, since Sachar Ivanovich was a

   friend and colleague of his.


   In Moscow this news was confirmed, and on reaching Petersburg Ivan

   Ilych looked up Zachar Ivanovich and received a definite promise of an

   appointment in his former Department of Justice.


   A week later he telegraphed to his wife: "Zachar in Miller's place. I

   shall receive appointment on presentation of report."


   Thanks to this change of personnel, Ivan Ilych had unexpectedly

   obtained an appointment in his former ministry which placed him two

   states above his former colleagues besides giving him five thousand

   rubles salary and three thousand five hundred rubles for expenses

   connected with his removal. All his ill humour towards his former

   enemies and the whole department vanished, and Ivan Ilych was

   perfectly  happy.


   He returned to the country more cheerful and contented than he had been

   for a long time. Praskovya Fedorovna also cheered up and a truce was

   arranged between them. Ivan Ilych told of how he had been feted by

   everybody in Petersburg, how all those who had been his enemies were

   put to shame and now fawned on him, how envious they were of his

   appointment, and how much everybody in Petersburg had liked him.




   Praskovya Fedorovna listened to all this and appeared to believe it.

   She did not contradict anything, but devoted herself exclusively to
   making plans for their life in the city to which they were going.
   Ivan Ilych saw with delight that these plans were his plans, that he
   and his wife agreed, and that, after a stumble, his life was regaining
   its due and natural character of pleasant lightheartedness and propriety.


   Ivan Ilych had come back for a short time only, for he had to take up

   his new duties on the 10th of September. Moreover, he needed time to

   settle into the new place, to move all his belongings from the

   province, and to buy and order many additional things: in a word, to

   make such arrangements as he had resolved on, which were almost exactly

   what Praskovya Fedorovna too had decided on.


   Now that everything had happened so fortunately, and that he and his

   wife were at one in their aims and moreover saw so little of one

   another, they got on together better than they had done since the first

   years of marriage. Ivan Ilych had thought of taking his family away

   with him at once, but the insistence of his wife's brother and her

   sister-in-law, who had suddenly become particularly amiable and

   friendly to him and his family, induced him to depart alone.




   So he departed, and the cheerful state of mind induced by his success

   and by the harmony between his wife and himself, the one intensifying

   the other, did not leave him. He found a delightful apartment, just the

   thing both he and his wife had dreamt of. Spacious, lofty reception

   rooms in the old style, a convenient and dignified study, rooms for his

   wife and daughter, a study for his son -- it might have been specially

   built for them. Ivan Ilych himself superintended the arrangements,

   chose the wallpapers, supplemented the furniture (preferably with

   antiques which he considered particularly comme il faut), and

   supervised the upholstering. Everything progressed until it

   approached the ideal he had set himself: even when things were only

   half completed they exceeded his expectations. He saw what a refined

   and elegant character, free from vulgarity, it would all have when it

   was ready. On falling asleep he pictured to himself how the reception

   room would look. Looking at the yet unfinished drawing room he could

   see the fireplace, the screen, the what-not, the little chairs dotted

   here and there, the dishes and plates on the walls, and the bronzes, as

   they would be when everything was in place. He was pleased by the

   thought of how his wife and daughter, who shared his taste in this

   matter, would be impressed by it. They were certainly not expecting as

   much. He had been particularly successful in finding, and buying

   cheaply, antiques which gave a decidedly aristocratic character to

   the whole place. But in his letters he intentionally understated

   everything in order to be able to surprise them.  All this so engrossed




   him that his new duties -- though he liked his official work --

   interested him less than he had expected. Sometimes he even had moments

   of absent-mindedness during the court sessions and would consider

   whether he should have straight or curved cornices for his curtains. He

   was so interested in it all that he often did things himself,

   rearranging the furniture, or rehanging the curtains. Once when

   mounting a step-ladder to show the upholsterer, who did not understand,

   how he wanted the hangings draped, he made a false step and slipped, but

   being a strong and agile man he clung on and merely banged his side

   against the knob of the window frame. The bruised place was painful but

   the pain soon passed, and he felt particularly bright and well just

   then. He wrote: "I feel fifteen years younger." He thought he would

   have everything ready by September, but it dragged on till mid-October.

   But the result was charming not only in his eyes but to everyone who

   saw it.


   In reality it was just what is usually seen in the houses of people of

   moderate means who want to appear rich, and therefore succeed only in

   resembling others like themselves: there are damasks, dark wood,

   plants, rugs, and dull and polished bronzes -- all the things people of

   a certain class have in order to resemble other people of that class.

   His house was so like the others that it would never have been noticed,

   but to him it all seemed to be quite exceptional. He was very happy

   when he met his family at the station and brought them to the newly

   furnished apartment all lit up, where a footman in a white tie opened the

   door into the hall decorated with plants, and when they went on into




   the drawing-room and the study uttering exclamations of delight. He

   conducted them everywhere, drank in their praises eagerly, and beamed

   with pleasure. At tea that evening, when Praskovya Fedorovna among

   others things asked him about his fall, he laughed, and showed them how

   he had gone flying off the stepladder and had frightened the upholsterer.


   "It's a good thing I'm a bit of an athlete. Another man might have been

   killed, but I merely knocked myself, just here; it hurts when it's

   touched, but it's passing off already -- it's only a bruise."


   So they began living in their new quarters -- in which, as always happens,

   when they got thoroughly settled in they found they were just one room

   short -- and with the increased income, which as always was just a

   little (some five hundred rubles) too little, but it was all very nice.


   Things went particularly well at first, before everything was finally

   arranged and while something had still to be done: this thing bought,

   that thing ordered, another thing moved, and something else adjusted.

   Though there were some disputes between husband and wife, they were

   both so well satisfied and had so much to do that it all passed off

   without any serious quarrels. When nothing was left to arrange it

   became rather dull and something seemed to be lacking, but they were

   then making acquaintances, forming habits, and life was growing fuller.




   Ivan Ilych spent his mornings at the law court and came home to diner,

   and at first he was generally in a good spirits, though he occasionally

   became irritable just on account of his house. (Every spot on the

   tablecloth or the upholstery, and every broken window-blind string,

   irritated him. He had devoted so much trouble to arranging it all that

   every disturbance of it distressed him.) But on the whole his life ran

   its course as he believed life should do: easily, pleasantly, and



   He got up at nine, drank his coffee, read the paper, and then put on

   his uniform and went to the law courts. there the harness in

   which he worked had already been stretched to fit him and he donned it

   without a hitch: petitioners, inquiries at the chancery, the chancery

   itself, and the sittings public and administrative. In all this the

   thing was to exclude everything fresh and vital, which always disturbs

   the regular course of official business, and to admit only official

   relations with people, and then only on official grounds. A man would

   come, for instance, wanting some information. Ivan Ilych, as one in

   whose sphere the matter did not lie, would have nothing to do with him:

   but if the man had some business with him in his official capacity,

   something that could be expressed on officially stamped paper, he would

   do everything, positively everything he could within the limits of such

   relations, and in doing so would maintain the semblance of friendly

   human relations, that is, would observe the courtesies of life. As soon

   as the official relations ended, so did everything else. Ivan Ilych

   possessed this capacity to separate his real life from the official

   side of affairs and not mix the two, in the highest degree, and by long




   practice and natural aptitude had brought it to such a pitch that

   sometimes, like a virtuoso, he would even allow himself to

   let the human and official relations mingle. He let himself do this

   just because he felt that he could at any time he chose resume the

   strictly official attitude again and drop the human relation. and he

   did it all easily, pleasantly, correctly, and even artistically. In the

   intervals between the sessions he smoked, drank tea, chatted a little

   about politics, a little about general topics, a little about cards,

   but most of all about official appointments. Tired, but with the

   feelings of a virtuoso -- one of the first violins who has played his

   part in an orchestra with precision -- he would return home to find

   that his wife and daughter had been out paying calls, or had a visitor,

   and that his son had been to school, had done his homework with his

   tutor, and was surely learning what is taught at High Schools.

   Everything was as it should be. After dinner, if they had no visitors,

   Ivan Ilych sometimes read a book that was being much discussed at the

   time, and in the evening settled down to work, that is, read official

   papers, compared the depositions of witnesses, and noted paragraphs of

   the Code applying to them. This was neither dull nor amusing. It was

   dull when he might have been playing whist, but if no whist was

   available it was at any rate better than doing nothing or sitting with

   his wife. Ivan Ilych's chief pleasure was giving little dinners to

   which he invited men and women of good social position, and just as his

   drawing-room resembled all other drawing-rooms so did his enjoyable

   little parties resemble all other such parties.




   Once they even had en evening party with dancing. Ivan Ilych enjoyed it
   and everything went off well, except that it led to a violent quarrel with his
   wife about the cakes and sweets. Praskovya Fedorovna had made her own
   plans, but Ivan Ilych insisted on getting everything from an expensive

   confectioner and ordered too many cakes, and the quarrel occurred

   because some of those cakes were left over and the confectioner's bill

   came to forty-five rubles. It was a great and disagreeable quarrel.

   Praskovya Fedorovna called him "a fool and an imbecile," and he

   clutched at his head and made angry allusions to divorce.


   But the party itself had been enjoyable. The best people were there,

   and Ivan Ilych had danced with Princess Trufonova, a sister of the

   distinguished founder of the Society "Bear My Burden".


   The pleasures connected with his work were those of pride; his

   social pleasures were those of vanity; but Ivan Ilych's greatest

   pleasure was playing whist. He acknowledged that whatever disagreeable

   incident happened in his life, the pleasure that beamed like a bright candle
   outshown everything else was to sit down to whist with good

   players, not noisy partners, and of course to a four-handed game (with

   five players it was annoying to have to stand out, though one pretended

   not to mind), to play a clever and serious game (when the cards allowed

   it) and then to have supper and drink a glass of wine. after a game of

   whist, especially if he had won a little (to win a large sum was

   unpleasant), Ivan Ilych went to bed in a particularly good mood.


   So they lived. They formed a circle of acquaintances among the best

   people and were visited by people of importance and by young folk. In

   their views as to their acquaintances, husband, wife and daughter were

   entirely agreed, and tacitly and unanimously kept at arm's length and

   shook off the various shabby friends and relations who, with much show

   of affection, gushed into the drawing-room with its Japanese plates on

   the walls. Soon these shabby friends ceased to obtrude themselves and

   only the best people remained in the Golovins' set.


   Young men made up to Lisa, and Petrishchev, an examining magistrate and

   Dmitri Ivanovich Petrishchev's son and sole heir, began to be so

   attentive to her that Ivan Ilych had already spoken to Praskovya

   Fedorovna about it, and considered whether they should not arrange a

   party for them, or get up some private theatricals.


   So they lived, and all went well, without change, and life flowed








   They were all in good health. It could not be called ill health if Ivan

   Ilych sometimes said that he had a queer taste in his mouth and felt

   some discomfort in his left side.


   But this discomfort increased and, though not exactly painful, grew

   into a sense of pressure in his side made him ill tempered. And his

   irritability became worse and worse and began to mar the agreeable,

   easy, and correct life that had established itself in the Golovin

   family. Quarrels between husband and wife became more and more

   frequent, and soon the ease and amenity disappeared and even the

   propriety was barely maintained. Scenes again became frequent, and very

   few of those islets remained on which husband and wife could meet

   without an explosion. Praskovya Fedorovna now had good reason to say

   that her husband's temper was trying. With characteristic exaggeration

   she said he had always had a dreadful temper, and that it had needed

   all her good nature to put up with it for twenty years. It was true

   that now the quarrels were started by him. His bursts of temper always

   came just before dinner, often just as he began to eat his soup.




   Sometimes he noticed that a plate or dish was chipped, or the food was

   not right, or his son put his elbow on the table, or his daughter's

   hair was not done as he liked it, and for all this he blamed Praskovya

   Fedorovna. At first she retorted and said disagreeable things to him,

   but once or twice he fell into such a rage at the beginning of dinner

   that she realized it was due to some physical derangement brought on by

   taking food, and so she restrained herself and did not answer, but only

   hurried to get the dinner over. She regarded this self-restraint as

   highly praiseworthy. Having come to the conclusion that her husband had

   a dreadful temper and made her life miserable, she began to feel sorry

   for herself, and the more she pitied herself the more she hated her

   husband. She began to wish he would die; yet she did not want him to

   die because then his salary would cease. And this irritated her against

   him still more. She considered herself dreadfully unhappy just because

   not even his death could save her, and though she concealed her

   exasperation, that hidden exasperation of hers increased his irritation



   After one scene in which Ivan Ilych had been particularly unfair and

   after which he had said in explanation that he certainly was irritable

   but that it was due to his not being well, she said that he was ill it

   should be attended to, and insisted on his going to see a celebrated



   He went. Everything took place as he had expected and as it always

   does. There was the usual waiting and the important air assumed by the

   doctor, with which he was so familiar (resembling that which he himself

   assumed in court), and the tapping and listening, and the questions




   which called for answers that were foregone conclusions and were

   evidently unnecessary, and the look of importance which implied that

   "if only you put yourself in our hands we will arrange everything -- we

   know exactly how it has to be done, always in the same way for

   everybody alike." It was all just as it was in the law courts. The

   doctor put on just the same air towards him as he himself put on

   towards an accused person.


   The doctor said that so-and-so indicated that there was so-and-so

   inside the patient, but if the investigation of so-and-so did not

   confirm this, then he must assume that and that. If he assumed that and

   that, then . . . and so on. To Ivan Ilych only one question was

   important: was his case serious or not? But the doctor ignored that

   inappropriate question. From his point of view it was not the one under

   consideration, the real question was to decide between a floating

   kidney, chronic catarrh, or appendicitis. It was not a question the

   doctor solved brilliantly, as it seemed to Ivan Ilych, in favour of the

   appendix, with the reservation that should an examination of the urine

   give fresh indications the matter would be reconsidered. All this was

   just what Ivan Ilych had himself brilliantly accomplished a thousand

   times in dealing with men on trial. The doctor summed up just as

   brilliantly, looking over his spectacles triumphantly and even gaily at




   the accused. From the doctor's summing up Ivan Ilych concluded that

   things were bad, but that for the doctor, and perhaps for everybody

   else, it was a matter of indifference, though for him it was bad. And

   this conclusion struck him painfully, arousing in him a great feeling

   of pity for himself and of bitterness towards the doctor's indifference

   to a matter of such importance.


   He said nothing of this, but rose, placed the doctor's fee on the

   table, and remarked with a sigh: "We sick people probably often put

   inappropriate questions. But tell me, in general, is this complaint

   dangerous, or not? . . . "


   The doctor looked at him sternly over his spectacles with one eye, as

   if to say: "Prisoner, if you will not keep to the questions put to you,

   I shall be obliged to have you removed from the court."


   "I have already told you what I consider necessary and proper. The

   analysis may show something more." And the doctor bowed.


   Ivan Ilych went out slowly, seated himself disconsolately in his

   sledge, and drove home. All the way home he was going over what the

   doctor had said, trying to translate those complicated, obscure,

   scientific phrases into plain language and find in them an answer to

   the question: "Is my condition bad? Is it very bad? Or is there as yet

   nothing much wrong?" And it seemed to him that the meaning of what the

   doctor had said was that it was very bad. Everything in the streets

   seemed depressing. The cabmen, the houses, the passers-by, and the




   shops, were dismal. His ache, this dull gnawing ache that never ceased

   for a moment, seemed to have acquired a new and more serious

   significance from the doctor's dubious remarks. Ivan Ilych now watched

   it with a new and oppressive feeling.


   He reached home and began to tell his wife about it. She listened, but

   in the middle of his account his daughter came in with her hat on,

   ready to go out with her mother. She sat down reluctantly to listen to

   this tedious story, but could not stand it long, and her mother too did

   not hear him to the end.


   "Well, I am very glad," she said. "Mind now to take your medicine

   regularly. Give me the prescription and I'll send Gerasim to the

   chemist's." And she went to get ready to go out.


   While she was in the room Ivan Ilych had hardly taken time to breathe,

   but he sighed deeply when she left it.


   "Well," he thought, "perhaps it isn't so bad after all."


   He began taking his medicine and following the doctor's directions,

   which had been altered after the examination of the urine. but then it

   happened that there was a contradiction between the indications drawn

   from the examination of the urine and the symptoms that showed

   themselves. It turned out that what was happening differed from what

   the doctor had told him, and that he had either forgotten or blundered,

   or hidden something from him. He could not, however, be blamed for

   that, and Ivan Ilych still obeyed his orders implicitly and at first

   derived some comfort from doing so.




   From the time of his visit to the doctor, Ivan Ilych's chief occupation

   was the exact fulfillment of the doctor's instructions regarding

   hygiene and the taking of medicine, and the observation of his pain and

   his bodily functions. His chief interest came to be people's ailments and

   people's health. When sickness, deaths, or recoveries were mentioned in

   his presence, especially when the illness resembled his own, he

   listened with agitation which he tried to hide, asked questions, and

   applied what he heard to his own case.


   The pain did not grow less, but Ivan Ilych made efforts to force

   himself to think that he was better. And he could do this so long as

   nothing agitated him. But as soon as he had any unpleasantness with his

   wife, any lack of success in his official work, or held bad cards at

   whist, he was at once acutely sensible of his disease. He had formerly

   borne such mischances, hoping soon to adjust what was wrong, to master

   it and attain success, or make a grand slam. But now every mischance

   upset him and plunged him into despair. He would say to himself: "There

   now, just as I was beginning to get better and the medicine had begun

   to take effect, comes this accursed misfortune, or unpleasantness . . ."
   And he was furious with the mishap, or with the people who were

   causing the unpleasantness and killing him, for he felt that this fury

   was killing him but he could not restrain it. One would have thought




   that it should have been clear to him that this exasperation with

   circumstances and people aggravated his illness, and that he ought

   therefore to ignore unpleasant occurrences. But he drew the very

   opposite conclusion: he said that he needed peace, and he watched for

   everything that might disturb it and became irritable at the slightest

   infringement of it. His condition was rendered worse by the fact that

   he read medical books and consulted doctors. The progress of his

   disease was so gradual that he could deceive himself when comparing one

   day with another -- the difference was so slight. But when he consulted

   the doctors it seemed to him that he was getting worse, and even very

   rapidly. Yet despite this he was continually consulting them.


   That month he went to see another celebrated physician, who told him
   almost the same as the first had done but put his questions rather differently,

   and the interview with this celebrity only increased Ivan Ilych's

   doubts and fears. A friend of a friend of his, a very good doctor,

   diagnosed his illness again quite differently from the others, and

   though he predicted recovery, his questions and suppositions bewildered

   Ivan Ilych still more and increased his doubts. A homeopathist

   diagnosed the disease in yet another way, and prescribed medicine which

   Ivan Ilych took secretly for a week. But after a week, not feeling any

   improvement and having lost confidence both in the former doctor's

   treatment and in this one's, he became still more despondent. One day a




   lady acquaintance mentioned a cure effected by a wonder-working icon.

   Ivan Ilych caught himself listening attentively and beginning to

   believe that it had occurred. This incident alarmed him. "Has my mind

   really weakened to such an extent?" he asked himself. "Nonsense! It's

   all rubbish. I mustn't give way to nervous fears but having chosen a

   doctor must keep strictly to his treatment. That is what I will do. Now

   it's all settled. I won't think about it, but will follow the treatment

   seriously till summer, and then we shall see. From now there must be no

   more of this wavering!"


   This was easy to say but impossible to carry out. The pain
   in his side oppressed him and seemed to grow worse and

   more incessant, while the taste in his mouth grew stranger and

   stranger. It seemed to him that his breath had a disgusting smell, and

   he was conscious of a loss of appetite and strength. There was no

   deceiving himself: something terrible, new, and more important than

   anything before in his life, was taking place within him of which he

   alone was aware. Those about him did not understand or would not

   understand it, but thought everything in the world was going on as

   usual. That tormented Ivan Ilych more than anything. He saw that his

   household, especially his wife and daughter who were in a perfect whirl

   of visiting, did not understand anything of it and were annoyed that he

   was so depressed and so exacting, as if he were to blame for it. Though

   they tried to disguise it he saw that he was an obstacle in their path,




   and that his wife had adopted a definite line in regard to his illness

   and kept to it regardless of anything he said or did. Her attitude was

   this: "You know," she would say to her friends, "Ivan Ilych can't do as

   other people do, and keep to the treatment prescribed for him. One day

   he'll take his drops and keep strictly to his diet and go to bed in

   good time, but the next day unless I watch him he'll suddenly forget

   his medicine, eat sturgeon -- which is forbidden -- and sit up playing

   cards till one o'clock in the morning."


   "Oh, come, when was that?" Ivan Ilych would ask in vexation. "Only once

   at Peter Ivanovich's."


   "And yesterday with Shebek."


   "Well, even if I hadn't stayed up, this pain would have kept me awake."


   "Be that as it may you'll never get well like that, but will always

   make us wretched."


   Praskovya Fedorovna's attitude to Ivan Ilych's illness, as she

   expressed it both to others and to him, was that it was his own fault

   and was another of the annoyances he caused her. Ivan Ilych felt that

   this opinion escaped her involuntarily -- but that did not make it

   easier for him.


   At the law courts too, Ivan Ilych noticed, or thought he noticed, a

   strange attitude towards himself. It sometimes seemed to him that

   people were watching him inquisitively as a man whose place might soon

   be vacant. Then again, his friends would suddenly begin to chaff him in

   a friendly way about his low spirits, as if the awful, horrible, and




   unheard-of thing that was going on within him, incessantly gnawing at

   him and irresistibly drawing him away, was a very agreeable subject for

   jests. Schwartz in particular irritated him by his jocularity, vivacity, and
   savoir-faire, which reminded him of what he himself had been ten years ago.


   Friends came to make up a set and they sat down to cards. They dealt,

   bending the new cards to soften them, and he sorted the diamonds in his

   hand and found he had seven. His partner said "No trumps" and supported

   him with two diamonds. What more could be wished for? It ought to be

   jolly and lively. They would make a grand slam. But suddenly Ivan Ilych

   was conscious of that gnawing pain, that taste in his mouth, and it

   seemed ridiculous that in such circumstances he should be pleased to

   make a grand slam.


   He looked at his partner Mikhail Mikhaylovich, who rapped the table

   with his strong hand and instead of snatching up the tricks pushed the

   cards courteously and indulgently towards Ivan Ilych that he might have

   the pleasure of gathering them up without the trouble of stretching out

   his hand for them. "Does he think I am too weak to stretch out my arm?"

   thought Ivan Ilych, and forgetting what he was doing he over-trumped

   his partner, missing the grand slam by three tricks. And what was most

   awful of all was that he saw how upset Mikhail Mikhaylovich was about

   it but did not himself care. And it was dreadful to realize why he did

   not care.




   They all saw that he was suffering, and said: "We can stop if you are

   tired. Take a rest." Lie down? No, he was not at all tired, and he

   finished the rubber. All were gloomy and silent. Ivan Ilych felt that

   he had diffused this gloom over them and could not dispel it. They had

   supper and went away, and Ivan Ilych was left alone with the

   consciousness that his life was poisoned and was poisoning the lives of

   others, and that this poison did not weaken but penetrated more and

   more deeply into his whole being.


   With this consciousness, and with physical pain besides the terror, he

   must go to bed, often to lie awake the greater part of the night. Next

   morning he had to get up again, dress, go to the law courts, speak, and

   write; or if he did not go out, spend at home those twenty-four hours a

   day each of which was a torture. And he had to live thus all alone on

   the brink of an abyss, with no one who understood or pitied him.





   So one month passed and then another. Just before the New Year his

   brother-in-law came to town and stayed at their house. Ivan Ilych was

   at the law courts and Praskovya Fedorovna had gone shopping. When Ivan

   Ilych came home and entered his study he found his brother-in-law there

   -- a healthy, florid man -- unpacking his portmanteau himself. He

   raised his head on hearing Ivan Ilych's footsteps and looked up at him

   for a moment without a word. That stare told Ivan Ilych everything. His

   brother-in-law opened his mouth to utter an exclamation of surprise but

   checked himself, and that action confirmed it all.


   "I have changed, eh?"


   "Yes, there is a change."


   And after that, try as he would to get his brother-in-law to return to

   the subject of his looks, the latter would say nothing about it.

   Praskovya Fedorovna came home and her brother went out to her. Ivan

   Ilych locked to door and began to examine himself in the glass, first

   full face, then in profile. He took up a portrait of himself taken with

   his wife, and compared it with what he saw in the glass. The change in

   him was immense. Then he bared his arms to the elbow, looked at them,

   drew the sleeves down again, sat down on an ottoman, and grew blacker

   than night.




   "No, no, this won't do!" he said to himself, and jumped up, went to the

   table, took up some law papers and began to read them, but could not

   continue. He unlocked the door and went into the reception-room. The

   door leading to the drawing-room was shut. He approached it on tiptoe

   and listened.


   "No, you are exaggerating!" Praskovya Fedorovna was saying.


   "Exaggerating! Don't you see it? Why, he's a dead man! Look at his eyes

   -- there's no life in them. But what is it that is wrong with him?"


   "No one knows. Nikolaevich [that was another doctor] said something,

   but I don't know what. And Seshchetitsky [this was the celebrated

   specialist] said quite the contrary . . . "


   Ivan Ilych walked away, went to his own room, lay down, and began

   musing; "The kidney, a floating kidney." He recalled all the doctors

   had told him of how it detached itself and swayed about. And by an

   effort of imagination he tried to catch that kidney and arrest it and

   support it. So little was needed for this, it seemed to him. "No, I'll

   go to see Peter Ivanovich again." [That was the friend whose friend was

   a doctor.] He rang, ordered the carriage, and got ready to go.


   "Where are you going, Jean?" asked his wife with a specially sad and

   exceptionally kind look.


   This exceptionally kind look irritated him. He looked morosely at her.


   "I must go to see Peter Ivanovich."


   He went to see Peter Ivanovich, and together they went to see his

   friend, the doctor. He was in, and Ivan Ilych had a long talk with him.




   Reviewing the anatomical and physiological details of what in the

   doctor's opinion was going on inside him, he understood it all.


   There was something, a small thing, in the vermiform appendix. It might

   all come right. Only stimulate the energy of one organ and check the

   activity of another, then absorption would take place and everything

   would come right.


   He got home rather late for dinner, ate his dinner, and conversed

   cheerfully, but could not for a long time bring himself to go back

   to work in his room. At last, however, he went to his study and did

   what was necessary, but the consciousness that he had put something

   aside -- an important, intimate matter which he would revert to when

   his work was done -- never left him. When he had finished his

   work he remembered that this intimate matter was the thought of his

   vermiform appendix. But he did not give himself up to it, and went to

   the drawing-room for tea. There were callers there, including the

   examining magistrate who was a desirable match for his daughter, and

   they were conversing, playing the piano, and singing. Ivan Ilych, as

   Praskovya Fedorovna remarked, spent that evening more cheerfully than

   usual, but he never for a moment forgot that he had postponed the

   important matter of the appendix. At eleven o'clock he said goodnight

   and went to his bedroom. Since his illness he had slept alone in a




   small room next to his study. He undressed and took up a novel by Zola,

   but instead of reading it he fell into thought, and in his imagination

   that desired improvement in the vermiform appendix occurred. There was

   the absorption and evacuation and the re-establishment of normal

   activity. "Yes, that's it!" he said to himself. "One need only assist

   nature, that's all." He remembered his medicine, rose, took it, and lay

   down on his back watching for the beneficent action of the medicine and

   for it to lessen the pain. "I need only take it regularly and avoid all

   injurious influences. I am already feeling better, much better." He

   began touching his side: it was not painful to the touch. "There, I

   really don't feel it. It's much better already." He put out the light

   and turned on his side . . . "The appendix is getting better,

   absorption is occurring." Suddenly he felt the old, familiar, dull,

   gnawing pain, stubborn and serious. There was the same familiar

   loathsome taste in his mouth. His heart sand and he felt dazed. "My

   God! My God!" he muttered. "Again, again! And it will never cease." And

   suddenly the matter presented itself in a quite different aspect.

   "Vermiform appendix! Kidney!" he said to himself. "It's not a question

   of appendix or kidney, but of life and . . . death. Yes, life was there

   and now it is going, going and I cannot stop it. Yes. Why deceive

   myself? Isn't it obvious to everyone but me that I'm dying, and that

   it's only a question of weeks, days . . . it may happen this moment.

   There was light and now there is darkness. I was here and now I'm going

   there! Where?" A chill came over him, his breathing ceased, and he felt

   only the throbbing of his heart.




   "When I am not, what will there be? There will be nothing. Then where

   shall I be when I am no more? Can this be dying? No, I don't want to!"

   He jumped up and tried to light the candle, felt for it with trembling

   hands, dropped candle and candlestick on the floor, and fell back on

   his pillow.


   "What's the use? It makes no difference," he said to himself, staring

   with wide-open eyes into the darkness. "Death. Yes, death. And none of

   them knows or wishes to know it, and they have no pity for me. Now they

   are playing." (He heard through the door the distant sound of a song

   and its accompaniment.) "It's all the same to them, but they will die

   too! Fools! I first, and they later, but it will be the same for them.

   And now they are merry . . . the beasts!"


   Anger choked him and he was agonizingly, unbearably miserable. "It is

   impossible that all men have been doomed to suffer this awful horror!"

   He raised himself.


   "Something must be wrong. I must calm myself -- must think it all over

   from the beginning." And he again began thinking. "Yes, the beginning

   of my illness: I knocked my side, but I was still quite well that day

   and the next. It hurt a little, then rather more. I saw the doctors,

   then followed despondency and anguish, more doctors, and I drew nearer

   to the abyss. My strength grew less and I kept coming nearer and




   nearer, and now I have wasted away and there is no light in my eyes. I

   think of the appendix -- but this is death! I think of mending the

   appendix, and all the while here is death! Can it really be death?"

   Again terror seized him and he gasped for breath. He leant down and

   began feeling for the matches, pressing with his elbow on the stand

   beside the bed. It was in his way and hurt him, he grew furious with

   it, pressed on it still harder, and upset it. Breathless and in despair

   he fell on his back, expecting death to come immediately.


   Meanwhile the visitors were leaving. Praskovya Fedorovna was seeing

   them off. She heard something fall and came in.


   "What has happened?"


   "Nothing. I knocked it over accidentally."


   She went out and returned with a candle. He lay there panting heavily,

   like a man who has run a thousand yards, and stared upwards at her with

   a fixed look.


   "What is it, Jean?"


   "No . . . o . . . thing. I upset it." ("Why speak of it? She won't

   understand," he thought.)


   And in truth she did not understand. She picked up the stand, lit his

   candle, and hurried away to see another visitor off. When she came back

   he still lay on his back, looking upwards.


   "What is it? Do you feel worse?"




   She shook her head and sat down.


   "Do you know, Jean, I think we must ask Leshchetitsky to come and see

   you here."


   This meant calling in the famous specialist, regardless of expense. He

   smiled malignantly and said "No." She remained a little longer and then

   went up to him and kissed his forehead.


   While she was kissing him he hated her from the bottom of his soul and

   with difficulty refrained from pushing her away.


   "Good night. Please God you'll sleep."










   Ivan Ilych saw that he was dying, and he was in continual despair.


   In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he un-

   accustomed to the thought, he simply could not grasp it, could not grasp
   it at all.


   The syllogism he had learnt from Kiesewetter's Logic: "Caius is a man,

   men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal," had always seemed to him

   correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself.

   That Caius -- man in the abstract -- was mortal, was perfectly correct,

   but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite

   separate from all others. He had been little Vanya, with a mamma and a

   papa, with Mitya and Volodya, with the toys, a coachman and a nurse,

   and later with Katenka-- Vanya, with all the joys, griefs, and delights of

   childhood, boyhood, and youth. What did Caius know of the smell of that

   little striped leather ball Vanya had been so fond of? Had Caius ever kissed

   his mother's hand like that, and had the silk of her dress ever rustled so for

   Caius? Had Caius ever rioted at school when the pastry was bad? Had

    he ever been so much in love? Or presided so well at a court session?


   "Caius really was mortal, and it was right for him to die; but for

   me, little Vanya, Ivan Ilych, with all my thoughts and feelings, it's

   altogether a different matter. It cannot be that I ought to die. That

   would be too terrible."


   Such was his feeling.


   "If I had to die like Caius, I would have known it. An inner voice

    would have told me so, but I was never aware of any such thing,

   and I and all my friends-- we knew our case was quite different from

   that of Caius, and now here it is!" he said to himself. "It can't be.

   It's impossible! But here it is. How is this? How is one to understand



   He could not understand it and tried to drive this false, incorrect,

   morbid thought away and to replace it by other proper and healthy

   thoughts. But that thought--  not just the thought but, it seemed, 

   the reality itself-- kept coming back and confronting him.


   And to replace that thought he called up a succession of others, hoping

   to find in them some support. He tried to get back into the former

   current of thoughts that had once screened the thought of death from

   him. But strange to say, all that had formerly shut off, hidden, and

   destroyed his consciousness of death, no longer had that effect. Ivan

   Ilych now spent most of his time in attempting to re-establish that old

   current. He would say to himself: "I will take up my duties again --

   after all I used to live by them." And banishing all doubts he would go

   to the law courts, enter into conversation with his colleagues, and sit


   carelessly as was his wont, scanning the crowd with a thoughtful look

   and leaning both his emaciated arms on the arms of his oak chair;

   bending over as usual to a colleague and drawing his papers nearer he

   would interchange whispers with him, and then suddenly raising his eyes

   and sitting erect would pronounce certain words and open the

   proceedings. But suddenly in the midst of those proceedings the pain in

   his side, regardless of the stage the proceedings had reached, would

   begin its own gnawing work. Ivan Ilych would turn his attention to it

   and try to drive the thought of it away, but the pain went right on with its work.

   And then It would come and stand before him and stare at him, and he would be 

   petrified, the light would die out of his eyes, and he would again begin

   asking himself, "Can It alone be true?" And his colleagues and

   subordinates would see with surprise and distress that he, the

   brilliant and subtle judge, was becoming confused and making mistakes.

   He would shake himself, try to regain his composure, somehow bring

   the sitting to a close, and return home sadly aware that his judicial labours

   could no longer hide what he wanted them to hide, and could not deliver 

   him from It. And the worst thing was that It drew his attention to itself 

   not in order to make him take some action but only that he should look 

   at It, look It straight in the face, and doing nothing, suffer unspeakable agony.




   And to save himself from this condition Ivan Ilych looked for

   consolations -- new screens -- and new screens were found and for a

   while seemed to save him, but then they immediately fell to pieces or

   rather became transparent, as if It penetrated them and nothing could

   veil It.


   In these latter days he would go into the drawing-room he had furnished

   -- that drawing-room where he had fallen and for the sake of which (how

   bitterly ridiculous it seemed) he had sacrificed his life -- for he

   knew that his illness originated with that knock. He would enter and

   see that something had scratched the polished table. He would look for

   the cause of this and find that it was the bronze ornamentation of an

   album, that had got bent. He would take up the expensive album which he

   had lovingly arranged, and feel vexed with his daughter and her friends

   for their untidiness -- for the album was torn here and there and some

   of the photographs turned upside down. He would put it carefully in

   order and bend the ornamentation back into position. Then it would

   occur to him to place all those things in another corner of the room,

   near the plants. He would call the footman, but his daughter or wife

   would come to help him. They would not agree, and his wife would

   contradict him, and he would dispute and grow angry. But that was all

   right, for then he did not think about It. It was invisible.


   But then, when he was moving something himself, his wife would say:

   "Let the servants do it. You will hurt yourself again." And suddenly It

   would flash through the screen and he would see It. It was just a

   flash, so he hoped It would disappear, but he involuntarily became 

   aware of his side: the pain was there gnawing away at him, and he 
   could no longer forget--  It was staring at him distinctly from behind the

   flowers. What was the point of it all?


   "It really is so! I lost my life over that curtain as I might have done

   when storming a fort. Is that possible? How awful and how stupid. It

   can't be true! It can't be, yet it is."


   He would go to his study, lay down, and once again was alone with It:
   face to face with It. And nothing could be done with It. Simply look at It

   and grow numb with horror.






   How it happened it is impossible to say because it came about gradually,
   imperceptibly, but in the third month of Ivan Ilych's illness, his wife,

   his daughter, his son, his acquaintances, the doctors, the

   servants, and-- above all-- he himself knew that the only interest

   he had for others was whether he would soon vacate his place, free
   the living from the discomfort caused by his presence and be himself

   released from his sufferings.


   He slept less and less. He was given opium and morphine injections,
   but this brought no relief. The dull depression he experienced in

   a semi-conscious condition at first gave him a little relief, but only as

   a new sensation, but then it became as agonizing, if not more so, than
    the raw pain. 


   Special foods were prepared for him by the doctors' orders, but all

   those foods became increasingly distasteful and disgusting to him.


   Special arrangements, too, were made for his bowel movements, and this

   was a regular torture -- a torture because of the filth, the unseemliness,

   and the stench, and from knowing that another person had to take part in it.


   But it was precisely through this unseemly business that Ivan Ilych obtained

   some comfort. Gerasim, the butler's young assistant, always came in to carry


   out the chamber pot. Gerasim was a clean, fresh peasant lad, grown stout 

   on town food and always cheerful and bright. At first the sight of him, in

   his clean Russian peasant costume, engaged on that disgusting task

   embarrassed Ivan Ilych.


   Once when he got up from the commode too weak to draw up his trousers,

   he dropped into a soft armchair and looked with horror at his bare,

   enfeebled thighs with the muscles so sharply marked on them.


   Just then, Gerasim with a firm light tread, his heavy boots emitting 

   a pleasant smell of tar and fresh winter air, came in wearing a clean 

   hemp apron, the sleeves of his print shirt tucked up over his strong bare

   young arms; and refraining from looking at his sick master out of

   consideration for his feelings, and restraining the joy of life that

   beamed from his face, he went up to get the pot.


   "Gerasim!" said Ivan Ilych in a weak voice.


   Gerasim started, evidently afraid he might have committed some

   blunder, and with a rapid movement turned his fresh, kind, simple young

   face which just showed the first downy signs of a beard.


   "Yes, sir?"


   "That must be very unpleasant for you. You must forgive me. I am



   "Oh, no, sir," and Gerasim's eyes beamed and he showed his glistening

   white teeth, "What's a little trouble? You're a sick man."


   And his deft strong hands did their accustomed task, and he went out of

   the room stepping lightly. Five minutes later he as lightly returned.



   Ivan Ilych was still sitting in the same position in the armchair.


   "Gerasim," he said when the latter had replaced the freshly-washed

   utensil. "Please come and help me." Gerasim went up to him. "Lift

   me up. It is hard for me to get up, and I have sent Dmitri away."


   Gerasim went up to him, grasped his master with his strong arms deftly

   but gently, in the same way that he stepped -- lifted him, supported

   him with one hand, and with the other drew up his trousers and would

   have set him down again, but Ivan Ilych asked to be led to the sofa.

   Gerasim, without an effort and without apparent pressure, led him,

   almost lifting him, to the sofa and placed him on it.


   "Thank you. How skillfully.... how well you do it all!"


   Gerasim smiled again and turned to leave the room. But Ivan Ilych felt

   his presence such a comfort that he did not want to let him go.


   "One thing more, please move up that chair. No, the other one -- under

   my feet. It is easier for me when my feet are raised."


   Gerasim brought the chair, set it down gently in place, and raised Ivan

   Ilych's legs on it. It seemed to Ivan Ilych that he felt better while

   Gerasim was holding up his legs.


   "It's better when my legs are higher," he said. "Place that cushion

   under them."



   Gerasim did so. He again lifted the legs and placed them, and again

   Ivan Ilych felt better while Gerasim held his legs. When he set them

   down Ivan Ilych fancied he felt worse.


   "Gerasim," he said. "Are you busy now?"


   "Not at all, sir," said Gerasim, who had learnt from the townsfolk how

   to speak to gentlefolk.


   "What have you still to do?"


   "What have I to do? I've done everything except chopping the logs for



   "Then hold my legs up a bit higher, can you?"


   "Of course I can. Why not?" and Gerasim raised his master's legs higher

   and Ivan Ilych thought that in that position he did not feel any pain

   at all.


   "And how about the logs?"


   "Don't trouble about that, sir. There's plenty of time."


   Ivan Ilych told Gerasim to sit down and hold his legs, and began to

   talk to him. And strange to say it seemed to him that he felt better

   while Gerasim held his legs up.


   After that Ivan Ilych would sometimes call Gerasim and get him to hold

   his legs on his shoulders, and he liked talking to him. Gerasim did it

   all easily, willingly, simply, and with a good nature that touched Ivan

   Ilych. Health, strength, and vitality in other people were offensive to

   him, but Gerasim's strength and vitality did not mortify but soothed



   What tormented Ivan Ilych most was the deception, the lie, which for

   some reason they all accepted, that he was not dying but was simply


   ill, and that if he stayed calm and underwent treatment and then something

   very good would result. He however knew that do what they would

   nothing would come of it, only still more agonizing suffering and

   death. This deception tortured him -- their not wishing to admit what

   they all knew and what he knew, but wanting to lie to him concerning

   his terrible condition, and wishing and forcing him to participate in

   that lie. Those lies -- lies enacted over him on the eve of his death

   and destined to degrade this awful, solemn act to the level of their

   visitings, their curtains, their sturgeon for dinner -- were a terrible

   agony for Ivan Ilych. And strangely enough, many times when they were

   going through their antics over him he had been within a hairbreadth of

   calling out to them: "Stop lying! You know and I know that I am dying.

   Then at least stop lying about it!" But he had never had the spirit to

   do it. The awful, terrible act of his dying was, he could see, reduced

   by those about him to the level of a casual, unpleasant, and almost

   indecorous incident (as if someone entered a drawing room emitting a

   foul odour) and this was done by that very propriety which he had

   served all his life long. He saw that no one pitied him, because no

   one even cared to grasp his position. Only Gerasim recognized it and

   pitied him. And so Ivan Ilych felt at ease only with him. He felt

   comforted when Gerasim supported his legs (sometimes all night long)


   and refused to go to bed, saying: "Don't you worry, Ivan Ilych. I'll

   get sleep enough later on," or when he suddenly became familiar and

   exclaimed: "If you weren't sick it would be another matter, but as it

   is, why should I grudge a little trouble?" Gerasim alone did not lie;

   everything showed that he alone understood the facts of the case and

   did not consider it necessary to disguise them, but simply felt sorry

   for his emaciated and enfeebled master. Once when Ivan Ilych was

   sending him away he even said straight out: "We shall all of us die, so

   why should I grudge a little trouble?" -- expressing the fact that he

   did not think his work burdensome, because he was doing it for a dying

   man and hoped someone would do the same for him when his time came.


   Apart from this lying, or because of it, what most tormented Ivan Ilych

   was that no one pitied him as he wished to be pitied. At certain

   moments after prolonged suffering he wished most of all (though he

   would have been ashamed to confess it) for someone to pity him as a

   sick child is pitied. He longed to be caressed and comforted. He knew he

   was an important functionary, that he had a beard turning grey, and

   that therefore what he longed for was impossible, but still he longed for

   it. And in Gerasim's attitude towards him there was something akin to

   what he wished for, and so that attitude comforted him. Ivan Ilych

   wanted to weep, wanted to be caressed and cried over, and then his

   colleague Shebek would come, and instead of crying and getting affection,


   Ivan Ilych would assume a serious, severe, profound expression, and by

   force of habit would express his opinion on a decision of the Court of

   Appeals and would stubbornly insist on that view. Nothing did so much
   to poison the last days of Ivan Ilych's life as this falseness in himself and
    in those around him.






   It was morning. He knew it was morning because Gerasim had gone, and

   Pyotr the footman had come, snuffed out the candles, drawn back one of

   the curtains, and begun quietly to tidy up. Whether it was morning or

   evening, Friday or Sunday, made no difference, it was all just the

   same: the gnawing, excruciating, incessant pain, the consciousness of life
   inexorably waning but not yet extinguished, the approach of that ever

   dreaded and hateful Death which was the only reality, and always

   the same falsity. What were days, weeks, hours, in such a case?


   "Will you have some tea, sir?"


   "He wants things to be regular, and wishes the gentlefolk to drink tea

   in the morning," thought ivan Ilych, and only said "No."


   "Wouldn't you like to move onto the sofa, sir?"


   "He wants to tidy up the room, and I'm in the way. I am uncleanliness

   and disorder," he thought, and said only:


   "No, leave me alone."


   The man went on bustling about. Ivan Ilych stretched out his hand.

   Pyotr came up, ready to help.


   "What is it, sir?"


   "My watch."


   Peter took the watch which was close at hand and gave it to his master.



   "Half-past eight. Are they up?"


   "No sir, except Vladimir Ivanovich" (the son) "who has gone to school.

   Praskovya Fedorovna ordered me to wake her if you asked for her. Shall

   I do so?"


   "No, there's no need to," he said. "Perhaps I'd better have some tea," he

   thought, and added aloud: "Yes, tea... bring me some."


   Pyotr headed for the door, but Ivan Ilych dreaded being left alone. "How

   can I keep him here?" he thought. "Oh yes, my medicine." 

   "Peter, give me my medicine," he said. "Why not?" he thought. "Perhaps it
   may still do some good."  He took a spoonful and swallowed it. "No, it
    won't help. It's all tomfoolery, all deception," he decided as soon as he

   became aware of the familiar, sickly, hopeless taste. "No, I can't believe
   in it any longer. But the pain, why this pain? If it would only cease just
   for a moment!" And he moaned. Peter turned towards him. "It's all right.
  Go and fetch me some tea."

   Peter went out. Left alone Ivan Ilych groaned not so much with pain,

   terrible though that was, as from mental anguish. Always and for ever

   the same, always these endless days and nights. If only it would come

   quicker! If only what would come quicker? Death, darkness? . . . No,

   no! anything rather than death!


   When Peter returned with the tea on a tray, Ivan Ilych stared at him

   for a time in bewilderment, not realizing who and what he was. Peter was

   disconcerted by that look and his embarrassment brought Ivan Ilych to



   "Oh, tea! All right, put it down. Only help me to wash and put on a

   clean shirt."



   And Ivan Ilych began to wash. With pauses for rest, he washed his hands

   and then his face, cleaned his teeth, brushed his hair, looked in the

   glass. He was terrified by what he saw, especially by the limp way in

   which his hair clung to his pallid forehead.


   While his shirt was being changed, he knew that he would be still 

   more frightened at the sight of his body, so he avoided looking at it.

   Finally he was ready. He drew on a dressing-gown, wrapped himself in a

   plaid, and sat down in the armchair to take his tea. For a moment he

   felt refreshed, but as soon as he began to drink the tea, he was again

   aware of the same taste, and the pain also returned. He finished it

   with an effort, and then lay down stretching out his legs, and

   dismissed Peter.


   Always the same. Now a spark of hope flashes up, then a sea of despair

   rages, and always pain; always pain, always despair, and always the

   same. When alone he had a dreadful and distressing desire to call

   someone, but he knew beforehand that with others present it would be

   still worse. "Another dose of morphine--to lose consciousness. I will

   tell him, the doctor, that he must think of something else. It's

   impossible, impossible, to go on like this."


   An hour and another pass like that. But now there is a ring at the door

   bell. Perhaps it's the doctor? It is. He comes in fresh, hearty, plump,

   and cheerful, with that look on his face that seems to say: "There now,

   you're in a panic about something, but we'll arrange it all for you

   directly!" The doctor knows this expression is out of place here, but


   he has put it on once for all and can't take it off -- like a man who

   has put on a frock-coat in the morning to pay a round of calls.


   The doctor rubs his hands vigorously and reassuringly.


   "Brr! How cold it is! There's such a sharp frost; just let me warm

   myself!" he says, as if it were only a matter of waiting till he was

   warm, and then he would put everything right.


   "Well now, how are you?"


   Ivan Ilych feels that the doctor would like to say: "Well, how are our

   affairs?" but that even he feels that this would not do, and says

   instead: "What sort of a night have you had?"


   Ivan Ilych looks at him as much as to say: "Are you really never

   ashamed of lying?" But the doctor does not wish to understand this

   question, and Ivan Ilych says: "Just as terrible as ever. The pain

   never leaves me and never subsides. If only something . . . "


   "Yes, you sick people are always like that. . . . There, now I think I

   am warm enough. Even Praskovya Fedorovna, who is so particular, could

   find no fault with my temperature. Well, now I can say good-morning,"

   and the doctor presses his patient's hand.


   Then dropping his former playfulness, he begins with a most serious

   face to examine the patient, feeling his pulse and taking his

   temperature,sounding his chest, listening to his heart and lungs. 


   Ivan Ilych knows quite well and definitely that all this is nonsense

   and pure deception, but when the doctor, getting down on his knee,


   leans over him, putting his ear first higher then lower, and performs

   various gymnastic movements over him with a significant expression on

   his face, Ivan Ilych submits to it all as he used to submit to the

   speeches of the lawyers, though he knew very well that they were all

   lying and why they were lying.


   The doctor, kneeling on the sofa, is still sounding him when Praskovya

   Fedorovna's silk dress rustles at the door and she is heard scolding

   Peter for not having let her know of the doctor's arrival.


   She comes in, kisses her husband, and at once proceeds to prove that

   she has been up a long time already, and only owing to a

   misunderstanding failed to be there when the doctor arrived.


   Ivan Ilych looks at her, scans her all over, sets against her the

   whiteness and plumpness and cleanness of her hands and neck, the gloss

   of her hair, and the sparkle of her vivacious eyes. He hates her with

   his whole soul. And the thrill of hatred he feels for her makes him

   suffer from her touch.


   Her attitude towards him and his diseases is still the same. Just as

   the doctor had adopted a certain relation to his patient which he could

   not abandon, so had she formed one towards him -- that he was not doing

   something he ought to do and was himself to blame, and that she

   reproached him lovingly for this -- and she could not now change that




   "You see he doesn't listen to me and doesn't take his medicine at the

   proper time. And above all he lies in a position that is no doubt bad

   for him -- with his legs up."


   She described how he made Gerasim hold his legs up.


   The doctor smiled with a contemptuous affability that said: "What's to

   be done? These sick people do have foolish fancies of that kind, but we

   must forgive them."


   When the examination was over the doctor looked at his watch, and then

   Praskovya Fedorovna announced to Ivan Ilych that it was of course as he

   pleased, but she had sent today for a celebrated specialist who would

   examine him and have a consultation with Michael Danilovich (their

   regular doctor).


   "Please don't raise any objections. I am doing this for my own sake,"

   she said ironically, letting it be felt that she was doing it all for

   his sake and only said this to leave him no right to refuse. He

   remained silent, knitting his brows. He felt that he was surrounded and

   involved in a mesh of falsity that it was hard to unravel anything.


   Everything she did for him was entirely for her own sake, and she told

   him she was doing for herself what she actually was doing for herself,

   as if that was so incredible that he must understand the opposite.


   At half-past eleven the celebrated specialist arrived. Again the

   sounding began and the significant conversations in his presence and in

   another room, about the kidneys and the appendix, and the questions and

   answers, with such an air of importance that again, instead of the real


   question of life and death which now alone confronted him, the question

   arose of the kidney and appendix which were not behaving as they ought

   to and would soon get a good trouncing from Michael Danilovich and the
   specialist and be forced to amend their ways.


   The celebrated specialist took leave of him with a serious though not a

   hopeless look, and when Ivan Ilych looked up at him, his eyes glistening     
    with hope and fear, and timidly asked whether there was any chance of
   recovery, he replied that he could not vouch for it but there was a chance.
  The look of hope Ivan Ilych gave the doctor as he watched him leave was so

   pathetic that, seeing it, Praskovya Fedorovna actually burst into tears as she
   left the room to hand the doctor his fee.


   The gleam of hope kindled by the doctor's encouragement did not last

   long. Once again the same room, the same pictures, curtains, wall-paper, 

   medicine bottles, were all there, and the same aching suffering body, and 

   Ivan Ilych began to moan. They gave him an injection and he sank

   into oblivion.


   It was twilight when he came to. They brought him his dinner and he

   swallowed some beef broth with difficulty, and then everything was the

   same again and night was coming on.


   After dinner, at seven o'clock, Praskovya Fedorovna came into the room

   in evening dress, her full bosom pushed up by her corset, and with

   traces of powder on her face. She had reminded him in the morning that

   they were going to the theatre. Sarah Bernhardt was visiting the town


   and they had a box, which he had insisted on their taking. Now he had

   forgotten about it and was hurt by the sight of her elaborate attire. But he 

   concealed his indignation when he remembered that he had himself urged them

   to secure a box and go because it would be an instructive and aesthetic

    pleasure for the children.


   Praskovya Fedorovna came in, self-satisfied but yet with a rather

   guilty air. She sat down and asked how he was, but, as he saw, only for

   the sake of asking and not in order to learn about it, knowing that

   there was nothing to learn -- and then went on to what she really

   wanted to say: that she would not on any account have gone but that the

   box had been taken and Helen and their daughter were going, as well as

   Petrishchev (the examining magistrate, their daughter's fiance) and

   that it was out of the question to let them go alone; but that she

   would have much preferred to sit with him for a while; and he must be

   sure to follow the doctor's orders while she was away.


   "Oh, and Fedor Petrovich" (the fiance) "would like to come in. May he?

   And Lisa?"


   "All right."


   His daughter came in all decked out in a gown that left much of her fresh 

   young flesh exposed which for him was the cause of so much agony.

   Strong, healthy, and obviously in love, she was impatient with illness,

   suffering, and death because they interfered with her happiness.



   Fedor Petrovich came in too, in evening dress, his hair curled a la

   Capoul, a tight stiff collar round his long sinewy neck, an enormous

   white shirt-front and narrow black trousers hugging his strong thighs.

   He had one white glove tightly drawn on, and was holding his opera hat

   in his hand.


   Following him, the schoolboy son crept in unnoticed, in a new uniform, poor

   little fellow, and wearing gloves. Terribly dark shadows showed under

   his eyes, the meaning of which Ivan Ilych knew well.


   He had always felt sorry for his son, and he found the boy's frightened, 

   pitying look terrifying to behold. It seemed to Ivan Ilych that Vasya

    was the only one besides Gerasim who understood and pitied him.


   They all sat down and again asked how he was feeling. A silence followed. 

   Lisa asked her mother about the opera glasses, and there was an argument

   between mother and daughter as to who had taken them and where they had

   been put. This occasioned some unpleasantness.


   Fedor Petrovich inquired of Ivan Ilych whether he had ever seen Sarah

   Bernhardt. Ivan Ilych did not at first catch the question, but then

   replied: "No, have you seen her before?"


   "Yes, in Adrienne Lecouvreur."


   Praskovya Fedorovna said she had been particularly good in something 

   or other. Her daughter disagreed. Conversation sprang up as to

   the elegance and realism of her acting -- the sort of conversation that

   is always repeated and is always the same.


   In the midst of the conversation Fedor Petrovich glanced at Ivan Ilych

   and became silent. The others also looked at him and grew silent. Ivan


   Ilych was staring with glittering eyes straight before him, evidently

   infuriated with them. This had to be rectified, but it was impossible to

   do so. The silence had to be broken, but for a time no one dared to

   break it and they all became afraid that the lie dictated by propriety

   would suddenly become obvious and the truth become plain to all. Lisa

   was the first to pluck up courage and break that silence, but by trying

   to hide what everybody was feeling, she betrayed it.


   "Well, if we are going it's time we left," she said, glancing at her

   watch, a gift from her father, and with a faint and significant smile at

    Fedor Petrovich relating to something known only to them. She

   got up with a rustle of her dress.


   They all rose, said good-night, and went away.


   When they had gone, Ivan Ilych thought he felt better; the lie was gone--

   it had left with them. But the pain remained-- that same pain, that same

   fear that made everything monotonously alike, nothing harder and

   nothing easier. Everything was getting worse.


   Again time dragged on, minute after minute and hour after hour, on and on
   without end, with the inevitable end becoming more and more horrifying.

   "Yes, send Gerasim here," he replied to a question Peter asked.






   His wife returned late at night. She tip-toed into the room, but he heard

   her, opened his eyes, and quickly closed them again. She wanted to

   send Gerasim away and sit with him herself, but he opened his eyes

   and said,


   "No, go away."


   "Are you in great pain?"


   "Always the same."


   "Take some opium."


   He consented and drank some. She went away.


   Until about three in the morning he was in an agonizing delerium.

   It seemed to him that he and his pain were being thrust into a narrow,

   black sack-- a deep one-- but though they were pushed further and further 

   in they could not be pushed to the bottom. And this dreadful business

   was causing him suffering. He was afraid of that sack yet wanted to

   fall through; he struggled but yet co-operated. And suddenly he lost his grip 
   and fell, and regained consciousness. Gerasim was sitting at the foot

   of the bed dozing quietly and patiently, while he himself lay with his

   emaciated stockinged feet resting on Gerasim's shoulders; the same

   shaded candle was there and the same unceasing pain.


   "Go away, Gerasim," he whispered.


   "It's all right, sir. I'll stay a while."


   "No. Go away."


   He removed his legs from Gerasim's shoulders, turned sideways with his


   nestled on his cheek,  and began to feel terribly sorry for himself. He waited 

   till Gerasim had gone into the next room and then no longer able to restrain 
   himself, cried like a baby. He cried about his helplessness, about his terrible

   loneliness, about the cruelty of people, about the cruelty of God, about 

   the absence of God.


   "Why hast Thou done all this? Why hast Thou brought me to this? Why

   dost Thou torture me so? For what?"


   He did not expect an answer and he cried because there was no answer

   and there could be none. The pain started up again, but he did not stir

   and did not call. He said to himself: "Go on then! Hit me again! But what for?

   What have I done to Thee?"


   Then he grew quiet and not only stopped crying but held his breath

   and became all attentive: he seemed to be listening-- not to an

   audible voice, but to the voice of his soul, to the flow of thoughts

   surging within him.


   "What is it you want?" was the first clear conception capable of

   expression in words, that he heard.


   "What do you want? What do you want?" he repeated to himself.


   "What? Not to suffer. To live," he replied.


   And once again he listened with such rapt attention that even his

   pain did not distract him.


   "To live? How?" asked the voice of his soul.


   "Why, to live as I used to -- happily and pleasantly."


   "As you lived before, happily and pleasantly?" asked the voice.



   And in imagination he called to mind the best moments of his pleasant

   life. Yet, strange to say, all the best moments of his pleasant life 

   seemed entirely different than they had then seemed -- all except

   the earliest memories of childhood. Way back in his childhood, there had

   been something really pleasant, something he could live with were it ever

   to recur. But the child who had experienced that happiness no longer

   existed. It was like the memories of another man.


   As soon as the period that had produced the present Ivan Ilych,

   all the seeming joys of his life vanished before his sight and turned

   into something trivial and often nasty.


   And the farther he moved from childhood, the closer he came to

   the present, the more trivial and doubtful were the joys. Beginning with

   the years he spent in Law School. A little of what was genuinely good 

   had still existed then: there had been light-heartedness, friendship, and hope. 

   But by the time he reached the upper classes thegood moments had become 

   rarer. After that, during the period he had worked for the governor

   there had also been some pleasant moments--:memories of his love for 

   a woman.  But then  everything became more and more confused, less of
  what was good remained. Later on there was even less, and the farther
   he went, the less there was. 

   His marriage, a mere accident, then the disenchantment that followed it,

   his wife's bad breath and the sensuality and pretense! And that

   deadly official life and those worries about money, and so it had gone


   for a year, two years, ten years, twenty years--on and on in the same way. 

   And the longer it lasted the more deadly it became. "It is as though I had been

   going steadily downhill while I imagined I was going up. That's exactly what

   happened. In public opinion I was moving uphill, but to the same extent life

   was slipping away from me. And now it is gone and all I can do is die!


   "What does it all mean? Why has it happened? It can't be that life is so 

   senseless and horrible. But if it really has been so horrible and senseless, 

   why must I die and die in agony? There is something wrong!


   "Perhaps I did not live as I should have," it suddenly occurred to

   him. "But how could that be when I did everything I was supposed to do?" 

   he replied, and immediately dismissed from his mind the one solution 
    to the whole enigma of life and death, as something quite impossible.


   "Then what do you want now? To live? Live how? Live as you did in the

   law courts when the usher proclaimed The court is open!' The court is

   open!" he repeated to himself. "Here he is, the judge. But I am not guilty!"

   he exclaimed angrily. "What is it for?" And he stopped crying, but turning

   his face to the wall continued to ponder on the same question:

   Why, and for what purpose, is there all this horror? But think as he 

   might, he could find no answer. And whenever the thought occurred to

   him, as it often did, that he had not lived as he should have, he at once

   recalled how correct his whole life had been and dismissed this bizarre idea.






   Another two weeks passed. Ivan Ilych now no longer got off his sofa. He

   did not want to lie in bed ans so he lay on the sofa, facing the wall nearly all

   the time. He suffered, all alone, the same inexplicable suffering and, 
    all alone, brooded on the same inexplicable question:  "What is this?

   Can it be that it is Death?" And the inner voice answered: "Yes,

   it is Death."


   "Why these torments?" And the voice answered, "For no reason -- they

   just are." Above and beyond this there was nothing.


   From the start of his illness, ever since he  first went to see the

   doctor, Ivan Ilych's life had been divided between two contrary

   and fluctuating moods: one a mood of despair and the expectation of an

   incomprehensible and terrible death, the other a mood of hope filled with

   intent observation of the functioning of his bodily functions. At times he was

   confronted with nothing but a kidney or an intestine that temporarily evaded

   its duty; at others nothing but an unfathomable, horrifying death from

   which there was no escape.


   These two moods had fluctuated since the onset of his illness, but the

   farther that illness progressed, the more unlikely and preposterous

   considerations about his kidney became, and the more real his sense of

   impending death.



   He had but to call to mind what he had been three months before and

   what he was now, to remember how steadily he had gone downhill,

   for all possibility of hope to be shattered.


   During the last days of the isolation in which he lived, lying on the sofa

   with his face to the wall, isolation in the midst of a populous

   city among numerous friends and relatives, an isolation that could not

   have been more complete anywhere -- either at the bottom

   of the sea or the bowels of the earth -- during the last days of that
   terrible isolation, Ivan Ilych lived only with memories of the past. One 
   after another, pictures of his past rose before him. They always began

   with what was nearest in time and then went back to what was most

   remote -- to his childhood-- and rested there. If he thought of the stewed

   prunes that had been offered him that day, his mind went back to the raw  

   shrivelled French plums of his childhood, their peculiar flavour and the flow 

   of saliva when he sucked their stones, and along with the memory of that 

   taste came a whole series of memories of those days: his nurse, his brother,

   and their toys. "No, I mustn't thing of that. . . . It is too painful,"

   Ivan Ilych said to himself, and brought himself back to the present --

   to the button on the back of the sofa and the creases in its morocco.

   "Morocco is expensive, but it does not wear well: there had been a

   quarrel about it. It was a different kind of quarrel and a different

   kind of morocco that time when we tore father's portfolio and were

   punished, and mamma brought us some tarts. . . ." And again his

   thoughts dwelt on his childhood, and again it was painful and he tried

   to banish them and fix his mind on something else.



   Then together with that chain of memories another series flashed

   through his mind -- of how his illness had progressed and grown worse.

   Here too, the farther back in time he went, the more life he found.

   There had been more goodness in his life earlier and more of life itself.

   The two merged together. "Just as the pain went on getting worse and

   worse, so my life grew worse and worse," he thought. "There is one

   bright spot there at the back, at the beginning of life, and afterwards

   all becomes blacker and blacker and proceeds more and more rapidly --

   in inverse ration to the square of the distance from death," thought

   Ivan Ilych. And the image of a stone hurtling downwards with

   increasing velocity entered his mind. Life, a series of increasing

   sufferings, flies further and further towards its end -- the most

   terrible suffering. "I am falling. . . ." He shuddered, shifted back and forth,

   wanting to resist, but by then knew there was no resisting. And again weary
   of contemplating but unable to tear his eyes away from what was right there 
    before him, he stared at the back of the sofa and waited -- awaiting that

   dreadful fall and shock and destruction.


   "Resistance is impossible!" he said to himself. "But if only I could

   understand the reason for this agony! Yet even that is impossible. It would
    make sense  if it could say that I had not lived as I should have. 

   But it is impossible to say that," he uttered inwardly, remembering all

   the legality, correctitude, and propriety of his life. "That is a point I cannot
    grant," he thought, and his lips smiled ironically as if someone

    could see that smile and be taken in by it. "There is no explanation!

    Agony, death. . . . Why?"






   Two more weeks went by this way. During that time the event

   Ivan Ilych and his wife had hoped for occured: Petrishchev formally

   proposed. It happened in the evening. The next day Praskovya Fedorovna

   went into her husband's room thinking about how she would announce

   the proposal, but during the night Ivan Ilych had undergone a change
   for the worse. She found him on the same sofa but in a different

   position. He lay on his back, groaning and staring straight ahead with
   a fixed look in his eyes.


   She began to remind him of his medicines. He shifted his gaze to her.
    So great was the animosity in that look-- animosity towards her--
   that she did not finish what she was saying;


   "For Christ's sake let me die in peace!" he said.


   She would have gone away, but just then their daughter came in and went

   up to say good morning. He looked at her as he had done at his wife,

   and in reply to her inquiry about his health said dryly that they would

   soon be rid of him. Both were silent, sat there for a while, and
   then went away.


   "Is it our fault?" Lisa said to her mother. "It's as if we were to

   blame! I am sorry for papa, but why should he torture us like that? 


   The doctor came at his usual time. Ivan Ilych answered "Yes" and "No,"

   glowered at him throughout the visit, and at last said: "You know you

   can do nothing for me, so leave me alone."


   "We can ease your sufferings."


   "You can't even do that. Let me be."


   The doctor went into the drawing room and told Praskovya Fedorovna that

   the case was very serious and that the only resource left was opium to

   allay her husband's sufferings, which must be excruciating.


   It was true, as the doctor said, that Ivan Ilych's physical agony

   was terrible, but worse than the physical sufferings was his moral
   agony, and it was this that tormented him most.

   What had induced his moral agony was that during the night, as he

   gazed at Gerasim's broad-boned sleepy, good-natured face, the
   question suddenly occurred to him: "What if my whole life was simply
   not the real thing?"


   It occurred to him that what had appeared utterly inconceivable 

   before--that he had not lived the kind of life he should have-- might

   after all be true. It occurred to him that those scarcely perceptible

   impulses of his to protest what people of high rank considered good,
    those vague  impulses which he had immediately suppressed,

   might have been precisely what mattered, and all the rest not been


   the real thing. His official duties, his whole manner of  life, his family,
   the values adhered to by society and in his profession might not have
    been real. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly
   became aware of the insubstantiality of them all. And there was nothing 

   left to defend.


   "But if that is so," he said to himself, "and I am leaving this life

   with the awareness that I squanderedt all that was given me and it is

   impossible to rectify it -- what then?"


   He lay on his back and began to review his whole life in quite a new

   way. In the morning when he saw first his footman, then his wife, then

   his daughter, and then the doctor, their every word and movement

   confirmed to him the horrible truth that had been revealed to him during

   the night. In them he saw himself -- all that for which he had lived --

   and saw clearly that it was not real at all, but a terrible and huge

   deception which had shut out both life and death. This awareness

   intensified his physical suffering tenfold. He groaned and tossed

   and clutched at his bed clothes. He felt they were choking and suffocating
   him. And he hated them on that account.


   He was given a large dose of opium and lost consciousness, but at
   dinnertime  it all started again. He drove everybody away and tossed
    from side to side.


   His wife came to him and said:


   "Jean, my dear, do this for me. It can't do any harm and often helps.

   Really, its such a small thing. Healthy people often do it."



   He opened his eyes wide.


   "What? Take the sacrament? Why? I don't want to! And yet . . . "


   She began to cry.


   "Then you will, dear? I'll send for our priest. He is such a fine man."


   "Fine. Very good," he muttered.


   When the priest came and heard his confession, Ivan Ilych relented

   and seemed to feel a relief from his doubts and consequently from his

   sufferings, and for a moment there came a ray of hope. He again began

   to think of the vermiform appendix and the possibility of correcting

   it. As he took the sacrament, there were tears in his eyes. 


   When they laid him down afterwards, he felt better for a second,
    and the hope that he might live awoke in him again. He began to think of

   the operation that had been suggested to him. "To live! I want to

   live!" he said to himself.


   His wife came in to congratulate him on taking the sacrament, she said the

   things people usually do, and then added, 


   "You really do feel better, don't you?"


   Without looking at her he said "Yes."


   Her clothes, her figure, the expression of her face, the tone of her

   voice, all revealed the same thing. "Not the real thing.  All you have
    lived for and still live for is a lie, a deception that blinds you from the
   reality of life and death." And as soon as he admitted that thought, his
    hatred and his excruciating physical suffering again sprang up,

   and with that pain a awareness of the inevitable, imminent destruction.

   The pain took a new turn: it began to grind and shoot and constrict his breathing.



   The expression of his face when he uttered that "Yes" was dreadful.

   Having uttered it, he looked her straight in the eyes, flung himself

   face downward and shouted:


   "Go away! Go away! Leave me alone!"






   That moment started three days of incessant screaming, screaming so

   so terrible that even two rooms away one could not hear it without

   trembling. The moment he had answered his wife, he realized that he was

   lost, that the end had come, that there was no return, the very end,

   and that his doubts, still unresolved, remained with him.


   "Oh! Oh! No!" he screamed in various intonations. he had begun by

   screaming "I don't want it! I don't!" and continued screaming with that
    "O" sound.


   For three straight days, during which time ceased to exist for him, he

   struggled desperately in that black sack into which an unseen invisible force
    was thrusting him. He struggled as a man condemned to death

   struggles in the hands of an executioner, knowing there is no escape.

   And he felt that with every minute, despite his efforts to resist, he was

   drawing closer and closer to what terrified him. He felt he was in agony

   because he was being thrust into that black hole and still more because

   he was unable to get right into it. He was prevented from getting into

   it by his conviction that his life had been a good one. That very

   justification of his life held him fast and prevented his moving

   forward, and it caused him the most torment of all.



   Suddenly some force struck him in the chest and the side, making it still

   harder to breathe: he plunged into the hole and there at the bottom

   something was shining. What had happened to him was like the sensation one

   sometimes experiences in a railway carriage when one thinks one is

   going backwards while one is really going forward and suddenly becomes

   aware of the real direction.


   "Yes, all of it was simply not the real thing," he said to himself, "but no

   matter. I can still make it the real thing-- I can. But what is the real thing?"
    he asked himself and suddenly grew quiet.


   This took place at the end of the third day, an hour before his death.

   Just then his son crept softly into the room and went up to his bed

   The dying man was still screaming desperately and faliling his arms.

   His hand fell on the boy's head, and the boy grasped it, pressed

   it to his lips, and began to cry.


  At that very moment Ivan Ilych fell through and saw a light, and it

   was revealed to him that  his life had not been what it should have

   been, but that he could still rectify the situation. "But what is
    the real thing?" he asked himself and grew quiet, listening. Then he felt
    that someone was kissing his hand. He opened his eyes, looked at his son,

   and felt sorry for him. His wife came in and went up to him. He looked

   at her. She gazed at him open-mouthed, with unwiped tears on her nose and

   cheek, with a look of despair on her face. He grieved for her.



   "Yes, I am torturing them," he thought. "They feel sorry for me, but it

   will be better for them when I die." He wished to say this but had not

   the strength to utter it. "But why speak-- I must do something," he thought.

   He looked at his wife and,  indicating his son with a glance, said: "Take him away

   . . . sorry for him . . . sorry for you too. . . ." He tried to add,

   "Forgive me," but said, "Forget," and too feeble to correct himself,
   dismissed it, knowing that He who needed to understand would understand.


   And suddenly it grew clear to him that what had been oppressing him and

   would not leave him suddenly was vanishing all at once-- from two sides,

   ten sides, all sides. He felt sorry for them; he had to do something to keep from

   hurting them: to deliver them and himself from these sufferings.

   "How good and how simple!" he thought. "And the pain?" he asked

   himself. "Where was it gone? Now, then pain, where are you, pain?"


   He waited for it attentively.


   "Yes, here it is. Well, what of it? Let the pain be."


   "And death . . . where is it?"


   He searched for his accustomed fear of death and could not find it.

   "Where was death? What death?" There was no fear because there was no



   Instead of death there was light.


   "So that's it!" he suddenly exclaimed aloud. "What bliss!"


   To him all this happened in a single instant, and the meaning of that

   instant did not change. For those present his agony continued for

   another two hours. Something rattled in his throat, his emaciated body

   twitched, then the gasping and rattle became less and less frequent.



   "It is finished!" said someone near him.


   He heard these words and repeated them in his soul.


   "Death is over," he said to himself. "There is no more death!"


   He drew in a breath, broke off in the midst of it, stretched himself out,
    and died.