Extended Audio Sample

Download The Death of Ivan Ilyich Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Death of Ivan Ilyich Audiobook, by Leo Tolstoy Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (21,157 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Leo Tolstoy Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2011 ISBN: 9781470803063
Regular Price: $9.95 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $8.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

Hailed as one of the world’s masterpieces of psychological realism, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story of a worldly careerist, a high-court judge who has never given the inevitability of his death so much as a passing thought. But one day death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise he is brought face to face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?

The first part of the story portrays Ivan Ilyich’s colleagues and family after he has died as they discuss the effect of his death on their careers and fortunes. In the second part, Tolstoy reveals the life of the man whose death seems so trivial. The perfect bureaucrat, Ilyich treasured his orderly domestic and office routine. Diagnosed with an incurable illness, he at first denies the truth but is influenced by the simple acceptance of his servant boy, and he comes to embrace the boy’s belief that death is natural and not shameful. He comforts himself with happy memories of childhood and gradually realizes that he has ignored all his inner yearnings as he tried to do what was expected of him.

Will Ilyich be able to come to terms with himself before his life ebbs away?

This short novel was the artistic culmination of a profound spiritual crisis in Tolstoy’s own life, a nine-year period following the publication of Anna Karenina during which he wrote not a word of fiction. A thoroughly absorbing glimpse into the abyss of death, it is also a strong testament to the possibility of finding spiritual salvation.

Download and start listening now!

BK_BLAK_004448

Quotes & Awards

  • “Written more than a century ago, Tolstoy’s work still retains the power of a contemporary novel.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Considered a masterpiece of psychological realism.”

    Merriam Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature

  • “Tolstoy’s novella offers a penetrating examination of the Christian faith and the nature of life and death.”

    Audiofile

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sebastian | 2/20/2014

    " La muerte en su forma mas agoviante y desgarradora, la que minimiza el alma. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 sura | 2/15/2014

    " My favorite book of al time "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maria | 2/9/2014

    " Characteristically dark in the Russian literary tradition. A lovely meditation on mortality, however, and the way people tend to distance themselves from illness and death. A good read when you are in the mood to ponder the human condition. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 kasia | 2/7/2014

    " Wow. For some reason, I was expecting some kind of cynical plot twist. It totally didn't happen. I just sort of figured there must be something else going on, because this couldn't be _it_. What can I say? I was unimpressed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vinita | 2/6/2014

    " A short and simple story enriched with the essence of life, a true Tolstoy work, written so simply yet sophisticated to the core. Loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hayden | 1/31/2014

    " Tolstoy, from what I've read, has nothing on Dostoevsky! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 1/28/2014

    " my first foray into Tolstoy's works; extremely talented writer telling a simple story of a man who lived for all the wrong reasons, only to realize what was truly important just before dying; somehow hopeful in that he did die in peace. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin Hughes | 1/27/2014

    " A beautiful and inspiring work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Craig | 1/21/2014

    " So much in so dense a volume. This work will need to cross my cerebral sea more before I can take it all in and then I may still be lacking. Beyond the stages of grief is a man and his rationale, justifications and inquiries, left only to those possessing some of the knowledge that they are mortal and that mortality is cashing in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Craig | 1/19/2014

    " Tolstoy probes the questions about death all mankind comtemplate (usually in the later years of life or earlier if death approaches). Ivan was a capable, proud man, an attorney then a judge, who enjoyed the life of the middle class in 19th century Russia. During his professional career, he had been able to pretty much control events about him. At age 45 he suffers a malady and is forced to confront questions about his demise. He realizes death is something he cannot control. Tolstoy skillfully leads the reader through the questions Ivan asks himself as he considers his end: "What is it all for?" and "Am I justified by the life I led." Though a sobering read, it well conceived and written by Tolstoy and I highly recommend the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathryn Lance | 1/19/2014

    " Excellent, and especially relevant to someone my age. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janet | 1/18/2014

    " Read this for one of my Master in Nursing classes which made it more interesting because of the required analysis. Otherwise, I probably would not have thought about life and death as much. Where is Palliative Care and Hospice? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie Miller | 1/17/2014

    " Now I actually want to read War and Peace, but I'm going to start with Anna Karenia. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kimberly | 1/15/2014

    " A book about how nobody wants to die. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joe | 1/11/2014

    " "It could only be explained if one could say I hadn't lived as I should. But that is quite inadmissable.", he said to himself, remembering his law-abiding, correct, and proper life. "To accept that would be quite impossible," he said to himself... "There is no explanation!" "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sonia | 1/11/2014

    " I read this book my Senior year of high school in a theology class and I distinctly remember being in class and having a mini-epiphany, whipping out a pen, and writing "REMEMBER YOUR MORTALITY" on my left hand in giant letters. If I ever got a tattoo that's what it would say. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shawna | 12/11/2013

    " From the satiric beginning to the heart-wrenching end, an all around great read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Daniel | 11/27/2013

    " When given historical context this book is interesting. I don't generally like reading literature that needs external context. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea M. | 11/20/2013

    " A great look at the transformation of a soul. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kareef | 11/14/2013

    " First work by Tolstoy that I have read and already it has cemented his undeniable genius. The depth of characterization is incredible you'd be humbled and crushed immensely if you have ambitions of being a writer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 11/13/2013

    " Only read Death of Ivan Ilyich "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie | 11/8/2013

    " I'm pretty ambivalent about this one. It's short and easy to read but I didn't really connect in any significant way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jo | 10/29/2013

    " Overall, I could not find anything wrong with the book. I thought the story and characters were very interesting. The story wasn't dragged on and it was short but pretty nice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ifedayo | 9/26/2013

    " I'll probably end up re-reading this in the future. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joe | 9/21/2013

    " "It could only be explained if one could say I hadn't lived as I should. But that is quite inadmissable.", he said to himself, remembering his law-abiding, correct, and proper life. "To accept that would be quite impossible," he said to himself... "There is no explanation!" "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Curtis | 9/11/2013

    " This story holds a lot of meaning; however, it's a tough read despite a few flashes of brilliance. Tolstoy has a way of drawing me into the darkness (which I like), but this one was a very slow starter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ifedayo | 8/30/2013

    " I'll probably end up re-reading this in the future. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natalie Moore | 8/20/2013

    " Good! An internal account of a dying man, with Tolstoy's usual bull's-eye perception. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennyreadsexcessively | 8/13/2013

    " 2 short stories of facing death, Ivan Ilyich suffers and seeks solice in first, liked 2nd better-- snowstorm strands rich landowner and peasant "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angie | 7/10/2013

    " I'm pretty ambivalent about this one. It's short and easy to read but I didn't really connect in any significant way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kimmo | 7/10/2013

    " A masterful, provocative, a very unusual short story "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hogimacaca | 7/2/2013

    " Excellent book. Im not very good with words, but this book was an answer to a lot of questions/fears i have had since i was a child. It was somewhat liberating for me. Anyway, i wont sell it, but ill let people borrow it. Holler "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jon | 6/25/2013

    " Don't die with your music left in you. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 5/25/2013

    " A moving account of one man's confrontation with death. I think Tolstoy's pace works better in longer works, but he deals with his themes well in this short novella. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 MountainPoet | 5/10/2013

    " Master and Man is by far my favorite Tolstoy short story. Death of Ivan Ilyich is right up there as well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 A.S. Peterson | 4/30/2013

    " Great short story. Amazing how something written over 100 years ago can be so completely contemporary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison Bravenec | 4/17/2013

    " A great short story and wonderfully written! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 4/17/2013

    " Good introduction to Leo Tolstoy. Felt almost like a prequel to "Anna Karenina" at times, but that is due to the time period, class and location of the novel. Another good book to get you thinking about how you want to live -- maybe before you are on your deathbed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 4/15/2013

    " Good introduction to Leo Tolstoy. Felt almost like a prequel to "Anna Karenina" at times, but that is due to the time period, class and location of the novel. Another good book to get you thinking about how you want to live -- maybe before you are on your deathbed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 A.S. Peterson | 3/17/2013

    " Great short story. Amazing how something written over 100 years ago can be so completely contemporary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathryn | 3/13/2013

    " A very poignant and impressive cautionary tale! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennyreadsexcessively | 3/7/2013

    " 2 short stories of facing death, Ivan Ilyich suffers and seeks solice in first, liked 2nd better-- snowstorm strands rich landowner and peasant "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shauna | 2/14/2013

    " Book club selection that I really didn't like. We only read Ivan Ilyich but the depression was overwhelming as I read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sue | 2/11/2013

    " My absolute favourite of his short stories. Beautifully told and a heart-wrenching tale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lorenia | 1/6/2013

    " Might be a little boring and not easy to digest, but this book makes you understand what death is, and how it comes to you before you die, how someone feels it, what agony is. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Conan734 | 12/20/2012

    " Is it strange to say this book made it easy to think of my own passing? Profound is a word used too often, but when it fits it fits. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 12/18/2012

    " This novella is one of the most affecting and well-paced works of fiction I've ever read. Written in 1886, it damns the hollowness of modern middle-class existence better than anyone before or since. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe | 11/6/2012

    " i know he is a titan, but not a huge fan. he is far more depressing that dostoevsky. and his theology is whacked "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel | 10/9/2012

    " A story of the ultimate sacrifice. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 9/21/2012

    " I read the story of "Master and Man" within this compilation. It was a powerful and moving story of man's assumptions about power and what really matters in life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 9/8/2012

    " Only read Death of Ivan Ilyich "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sam Ruddick | 9/7/2012

    " thought it would be slow. it was at first, i guess. but it paid off. after spending a few days getting through the first twenty pages or so i read the rest of it in an afternoon. couldn't put it down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe | 8/26/2012

    " i know he is a titan, but not a huge fan. he is far more depressing that dostoevsky. and his theology is whacked "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 MountainPoet | 7/1/2012

    " Master and Man is by far my favorite Tolstoy short story. Death of Ivan Ilyich is right up there as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Timm DiStefano | 6/13/2012

    " Might have fit me more in high school but is too dark for me right now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 5/16/2012

    " I read the story of "Master and Man" within this compilation. It was a powerful and moving story of man's assumptions about power and what really matters in life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 T Sager | 3/2/2012

    " Tolstoy lays out our lives. Reading this book made me not want to waste any moment of the rest of my life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 T Sager | 2/26/2012

    " Tolstoy lays out our lives. Reading this book made me not want to waste any moment of the rest of my life. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shauna | 1/28/2012

    " Book club selection that I really didn't like. We only read Ivan Ilyich but the depression was overwhelming as I read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 12/25/2011

    " Word I wasn't expecting to read in this bleak masterpiece: pasties. (Hugh Alpin translator, UK's Hesperus Press) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Timm DiStefano | 12/22/2011

    " Might have fit me more in high school but is too dark for me right now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel | 11/5/2011

    " A story of the ultimate sacrifice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lesley | 9/28/2011

    " Dying is rough and it always has been. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cassidy | 9/21/2011

    " so moving. no need to say more, just wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pilar | 9/8/2011

    " This is an excellent piece of literature. It's marvelous and it taught be a great deal about life and death. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary Jo | 9/7/2011

    " This was a quick read that was still longer than it needed to be. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 9/6/2011

    " Since I consider myself a Christian Anarchist, I suppose I should read Tolstoy, since he is labeled one as well. This book was brilliant. He threads so many Christian concepts into a single story made more honest than an autobiography. Fantastic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurele | 9/6/2011

    " Wow! I don't know what to say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Roy Dimond | 9/3/2011

    " Typical Tolstoy, vast, epic and readable. Makes things simple but never simpler. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim Petersik | 8/21/2011

    " The dying Ivan Ilych gets angry at everyone else...then begins to ask the big questions. His fear: what if my life is wrong? Not sure he arrives at the answer you're expecting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lola | 6/5/2011

    " OH wow...so powerful and sad. I cried at the end. It's just amazing what humans will do out of comradeship. This is the true and original meaning of fraternity, defined by Rousseau. Not the modern beer drinking sex fiends...with too much money and too spoiled. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 dthaase | 5/29/2011

    " One of Tolstoy's short novels inviting the reader into a reflection on the meaning of life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ctb | 5/17/2011

    " Long short story or novella. My freshman lit project. Enjoyed every sentence. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 4/25/2011

    " Very well written short story and pretty sad "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kareef | 4/20/2011

    " First work by Tolstoy that I have read and already it has cemented his undeniable genius. The depth of characterization is incredible you'd be humbled and crushed immensely if you have ambitions of being a writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric | 4/18/2011

    " I can safely say this book changed my life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joanne | 3/28/2011

    " This was an interesting book on the process of one man's death. did make me want to read more of Tolstoy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trae Noël | 3/25/2011

    " What is death? Why do we live? You can see Tolstoy wrestle with death in this book. A great read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cheryl | 3/23/2011

    " Spend time with a timeless author and Ivan Ilych, a human being dealing with the discontinuity of life when all he's known is the sameness. If you are able to put aside resistences to the subject of death, you will find much to identify with and think about long after the end. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eliana | 3/21/2011

    " It took a long, long time to die. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrew | 3/18/2011

    " Don't read the introduction before the book; it could ruin it. On the other hand, without a little knowledge of Tolstoy, I'd say all but the last pages are boring (sorry, Beth). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynette | 3/18/2011

    " The paradox in this book is heartwrenching. It's a short story, so it's difficult to review without giving spoilers. My favorite Tolstoy. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) was born about two hundred miles from Moscow. His mother died when he was two, his father when he was nine. His parents were of noble birth, and Tolstoy remained acutely aware of his aristocratic roots, even when he later embraced doctrines of equality and the brotherhood of man. After serving in the army in the Caucasus and Crimea, where he wrote his first stories, he traveled and studied educational theories. In 1862 he married Sophia Behrs and for the next fifteen years lived a tranquil, productive life, finishing War and Peace in 1869 and Anna Karenina in 1877. In 1879 he underwent a spiritual crisis; he sought to propagate his beliefs on faith, morality, and nonviolence, writing mostly parables, tracts, and morality plays. Tolstoy died of pneumonia in 1910 at the age of eighty-two.

About the Narrator

Simon Prebble, a British-born performer, is a stage and television actor and veteran narrator of some three hundred audiobooks. As one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices, he has received thirty-seven Earphones Awards and won the prestigious Audie in 2010. He lives in New York.