Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich was his first published work after just under a decade of immersion in religious study and writing, during which period he had shown not just an indifference, but even perhaps an aversion the production of fictional works. This gap in his fictional production ended with a story which exhibits a different approach to that manifested in his earlier stories. More schematic and deliberate; descriptive and analytic detail is scarce on the ground and the density of events and circumstances that was to be found in his earlier works is notably absent, making for a novel that is a concentrated version of a life and not the life itself. Tolstoy takes away all detail that he considers extraneous to his artistic and didactic purpose and, disdaining the view that density of detail lends itself to verisimilitude, he chooses to depict only those details he considers essential, thus giving the novel to some degree the feel of a parable or moralistic tale. However, Tolstoy has chosen his details with such skill that where a tale written in a similarly unconventional manner by any another writer might easily be accused of having fallen prey to abstract and self-involved moralising, his succeeds in the main in avoiding giving this sensation, retaining the "transparency" that has been put forward by Roland Barthes as one of the marks of great literature.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.