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Big Read: The Death of Ivan Ilyich

A guide to online resources in English about Tolstoy's "Death of Ivan Ilyich"


Footage of Countess Tolstaya at Yasnaya Polyana and Count Tolstoy on his 80th birthday.  The Tolstoy Studies Journal website provides the following description of the film:

The film opens with Tolstoy's relatives and friends riding through the territory of Yasnaya Polyana on a light carriage, delivering a box of presents for peasant children. I believe the woman riding in the middle of the carriage (in the white blouse) is Aleksandra L'vovna, Tolstoy's third daughter. The following scene finds Tolstoy's wife, Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya, collecting flowers from the flower garden. The Tolstoys' beloved dog (a spaniel-poodle mix) makes a brief appearance. Next, V. Chertkov, Tolstoy's aide and close friend, distributes alms at the "tree of the poor" (дерево бедных). Chertkov appears in several of the scenes: he is the bald man with a beard and mustache, sometimes wearing an English bowler. Among the men leaving the main house with Chertkov are the Tolstoys' sons. You can also spy another of Drankov's cameras set up near the house. The last scenes are of Tolstoy: In the penultimate scene, Tolstoy, who was suffering from leg pain at the time, is seated on the second-floor balcony, in a low wicker chair, barely visible over the railing. The men to the left are students who have come to congratulate Tolstoy on his birthday. Chertkov stands immediately behind Tolstoy, and Sofia Andreevna stands to the right. The final scene is taken from the balcony. Tolstoy smiles at the camera, his ailing leg propped on an ottoman. Sofia Andreevna stands to his right, Chertkov behind him, and Aleksandra L'vovna can be seen to Tolstoy's left.


There is an enormous amount of photographic material avaialable on Tolstoy. One interesting link is available through Here, Tolstoy is described as the "most revered man on earth".

Russian footage of Tolstoy's estate and description of his last days and funeral:


Audio materials relating to Tolstoy can be found by searching sources such as Academic OneFile.  Far more was available searching in Russian. Included below is information and some sound files from the Tolstoy Museum website.  They describe how Tolstoy first developed an interest in sound recordings as follows:

In January 1908, Tolstoy received a phonograph as a gift from Thomas Edison.  Tolstoy was intrigued with the device and made several brief recordings of excerpts from his work. 

   21 февраля 1908 г. В гости к Льву Николаевичу пришли яснополянские школьники. Они попросили писателя показать им "чудо-аппарат", так появилась запись "Обращение к мальчикам - учащимся Яснополянской школы", копия которой хранится в нашем музее.

Translation:  In Februay 21, 1908 Yasnaya Polyana schoolchildren came to visit Lev Nikolaevich.   They asked the author to show them the "miracle-machine", and thus came to be the recording "The address to boys-students of the Yasnaya Polyana school", which is being preserved in our museum.

Послушать запись >> Время: 0:36, Размер: 211 КБ

Расшифровка записи:
"Я... Спасибо, ребята, что ходите ко мне. Я рад, когда вы хорошо учитесь. Только пожалуйста не шалите. А то есть такие, что не слушают, а только сами шалят. А то, что я вам говорю, нужно для вас будет. Вы вспомните, когда уж меня не будет, что старик говорил вам добро. Прощайте, будет."

Transcript of the recording:  "I ... Thank you, children, that you come to visit me.  I am glad when you study well.  Just please don't be naughty.  There are some that do not listen, but are naughty.  And this, which I am telling you, will be necessary for you.  You will remember, when I am already gone, that the old man was telling you the right things.  Good bye, that's the way it will be."

Thoughts from the book "For Every Day" (на английском языке)

Послушать запись >> Время: 0:53, Размер: 419 КБ

Расшифровка записи:
Art thou doing the right thing?"
"That the object of life is self-perfection - the perfection perfecting of (course) immortal souls — that this is the only object of man's life is seen to be correct by the fact alone that every other object is senseless in view of death. Therefore the question whether thou hast done what thou shouldst have done is of immense importance, for the only meaning of thy life is in doing in this short term allowed thee that which (that which) is desired of thee by Him whe or that which has sent thee into life.

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