Review: A Morte de Ivan Ilitch e Outras Histórias / The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy, edition in Portuguese [EN/PT]

a morte de ivan ilitch e outras historias leo tolstoiAnother bilingual review, I’m quite excited to write those! It’s been a while that I’ve read this much in my own language, and I’m enjoying it, it’s much easier to grasp the meaning of words and how the characters feel, even with old-fashioned writing and long, fancy words.

[English]

Rating: ★★★★☆

Categories: Classic Fiction, Russian, Translated Fiction

Goodreads

This is the first time I pick up Tolstoy, whose writing I’ve always heard was rather inaccessible, mainly because of how lengthy the books are – so picking up his short stories seemed to me like a good way to get to know his writing before committing to such long books.

This book contains the following short stories:

  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich
  • The Kreutzer Sonata
  • Father Sergius

I read the translation to Portuguese, which I think was the best way to consume this book anyway – not only because formal, old-fashioned language is easier for me to read in my mother tongue, of course, but also because I prefer reading translated works in Portuguese, if so possible, because it has more similarity with many other languages than English does.

My favorite story was the first and more famous one, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which tells the story of a man who lived a comfortable, rich and pleasant life up to the point where he falls sick for several months and, upon reflection and under so much pain, he realizes he lived his life all wrong. It’s an interesting, introspective and satirical story, which ticks all the boxes of things I like to read! I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed his writing, really, how absorbed in all the stories I was, even when I particularly disliked the narrator voice or disagreed with everything they said.

The second story, The Kreutzer Sonata, was scandalous when it came out, and is scandalous now – it tells the story of a man who killed his wife and is explaining to a stranger on a train how that happened. There is a lot of conversation about marriage, love, the role of women and how oppressed they are, of men’s double standards and transferring syphilis to their wives etc. I hated the main character with all my being (it was strange to read his opinions on women’s rights vs the image of women in society etc, from a man who committed feminicide), but it was nonetheless a very interesting and provoking story. When I finished it, I found that I had actually liked it, despite how much I despise the main character.

The third story is about a man who is the very definition of overachiever, becoming more and more successful in his military career, successfully arranging to marry a beautiful and rich woman, and then, suddenly, leaving it all behind to become a monk, where he at first is happy but eventually finds out he does not actually have faith. I could not form a precise opinion on the main character, he seemed at times like someone I’d despise and maybe like someone I could relate to, as well. This, out of the three, felt most like it was a “story with a lesson”, and I did not quite enjoy the ending much, although I did enjoy most of the book and his attempts to be saint-like and pure despite his very human flaws.

All the stories were very interesting and I am quite in awe of his writing, creativity and grasp of humanity. Of course, I wish the women in his books had more major roles, and perhaps a bit more personality and actual agency, but that’s asking too much, I guess – and I look forward to picking up Anna Karenina and seeing how he does a woman main character. I did not expect that reading the short stories would lead me to add 2 very long books to my TBR, but here we are. I think this will not work for everyone, if you prefer plot-heavy and more direct writing, more dialogue, too, but I really enjoyed it and I actually feel excited to read more of his work.

[Português]

Nota: ★★★★☆

Categorias: Clássico russo

Skoob

Há anos venho flertando com a ideia de ler Tolstói, mas os livros tamanho de tijolo e a fama de escritores Russos de escreverem de forma densa e difícil de ler sempre me deixaram com um pé atrás, então esta coleção de contos foi uma forma perfeita de me introduzir à escrita do autor antes de me comprometer a mil páginas.

Este livro contém as seguintes histórias:

  • A Morte de Ivan Ilitch
  • Sonata a Kreuzer
  • O Padre Sêrgui

O primeiro conto é a história de Ivan Ilitch, um homem cuja vida sempre foi fácil, conveniente e sem grandes preocupações – até o dia em que Ivan sofre um acidente que a princípio não parece grande coisa, mas que o leva a sofrer uma doença longa e dolorosa que vai se mostrar fatal. Durante seus longos meses de sofrimento, Ivan Ilitch passa a refletir sobre sua vida e percebe que deveria ter feito escolhas completamente diferentes e que priorizou os valores morais errados durante todos esses anos. Este conto introspectivo, cheio de sátira, foi o meu favorito dos três: as escolhas supérfluas do personagem principal, sempre voltadas a trazer mais sucesso financeiro, mais reconhecimento e maior valorizaçção na sociedade sem se preocupar em formar com o que lhe traria realmente felicidade, foi algo que me tocou muito, e mesmo que a escrita fosse um pouco densa, sim, a história é tão interessante que fiquei absorvida e nem me importei. Foi uma surpresa muito positiva o quanto gostei dessa história e da escrita de Tolstói! Essa história em particular me lembrou de Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas, com seu tom moribundo e com os personagens interessantes e difíceis.

O segundo conto é sobre um homem que matou sua esposa, e ele relata como chegou a este ponto a um estranho no trem. Este conto é extremamente controverso na Rússia até os dias de hoje por um bom motivo: o autor não se reprime nem um pouco ao expresser opiniões sobre casamento, amor, o papel da mulher no casamento, a forma desigual como um homem dado à “libertinagem” é tratado, porém uma mulher deve permanecer sempre pura e ignorante. Detestei o personagem principal com todas as minhas forças (muito estranho ler ele falar sobre o direito da mulher e a imagem dela na sociedade sendo que ele cometeu feminicídio!), mas no fim das contas gostei da história, que é provocante, sim, e põe em evidência o quão ridículo é o tratamento das mulheres na sociedade Eu preferia, é claro, que a história tivesse sido executada de forma diferente, talvez do ponto de vista da esposa, mas enfim.

O ultimo conto é sobre um homem que sempre faz de tudo para se tornar o melhor que puder em tudo: cultura, disciplina, o casamento perfeito, melhorar sua posição na sociedade. Quando ele está prestes a casar com uma moça linda e rica, alcançando enfim o último objetivo que ele tinha para si mesmo, ele subitamente interrompe o noivado e vira monge. Todo mundo fica sem entender, mas para ele faz total sentido. Porém, mesmo como monge, ele não consegue alcançar paz, constantemente sofrendo por causa de seu temperamento orgulhoso e irascível. Das três histórias, essa me pareceu a mais “história com lição de moral”, e o final me deixou meio desapontada. Ainda assim, foi super interessante ler a trajetória do personagem, sua disciplina em ser o melhor que as pessoas esperam dele, mas nunca se sentir satisfeito.

O livro vale muito a pena se você tem interesse em ler Tolstói, ou se já leu seus livros mais famosos (Anna Karenina e Guerra e Paz) e gostaria de ler mais. Essa é uma edição lindíssima de capa dura e dá um presente excelente!

9 thoughts on “Review: A Morte de Ivan Ilitch e Outras Histórias / The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy, edition in Portuguese [EN/PT]

  1. Great review! I loved Anna Karenina several years ago and have been meaning to pick up more of Tolstoy’s work. I do have a little collection of his short stories somewhere on my shelf- I know it has The Death of Ivan Ilyich, but I think it’s a set of two and neither of the other titles you mentioned sound like the second story in my edition. But I’ll have to check them out, I’m very glad to hear you liked his stories so much! And these definitely look more approachable than War and Peace…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t had the courage yet to pick up Anna Karenina, but I’m really excited to do so after reading the short stories! I think the last story is really obscure it seems – I could not find it in the other short story collections I checked. I’m awfully curious about War and Peace now too, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is great! I’d be so curious to know how much difference there is in a translation into one language vs the other. I know I’ve read the first two of these stories and the third sounds very familiar, though it’s been a few years since I read Tolstoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Best Books I Read in 2020 (All Genres) | Naty's Bookshelf

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