to such a degree that its passage becomes somewhat unclear and, also characteristically of Tolstoy, discrepancies of age appear as the years fly by. Typical of Tolstoy too is the description of the reactions of Ivan’s various colleagues at the law-courts to the news of his death: the prospects for promotions, the relief at someone else having been the one to die.

The novel as a whole has an existentialist feel. As Sartre commented: "nothing can save man from himself, not even a valid proof of the existence of God". Man’s situation is shown as tragic and absurd, but nevertheless not hopeless, although one is forced to wonder if perhaps Ivan Ilyich’s "revelation" of love does not come a little late in the day to realistically compensate for the futility of his past existence.

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