Analysis of Leo Tolstoy and his work, The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Archive for the month “September, 2011”

Part 1, Ch. 1

So after reading a bit, I have to say the use of French language is extremely confusing. It becomes a major nuisance having to check the definition of these words repeatedly. On the other hand, this may sound odd but I love all their names, Pavlovna especially.

The first chapter begins with Pavlovna’s introduction. Pavlovna lives in Saint Petersburg and seems to have a love of throwing parties and engaging in contact with the upper class crowds. She’s close with the Empress of Russia and has a number of princes attending her party.

Pavlovna speaks with Prince Vassily about setting his son up with some nobel women.

– Nelson



After having read the introduction, I think there are certain key components that we have to keep in mind when reading the book. To start off with we see that Tolstoy grew up with no parents. “Leo displays the keen awareness of death that will haunt him throughout his life” (pg xi) I think this quote will really set the mood for the rest of the novel. Maybe this foreshadows that out of the five families struggling for survival they will be surrounded by death of their close ones just like Tolstoy. We also learn that War and Peace is written in  installments. I agree with Christina it is incredibly confusing to begin treading this novel and already be introduced to numerous characters. However, like you said I am just thankful for the character page list. Within the first chapter we are already introduced to the fact that war played a pivotal role in the novel. Just in the first chapter war dominates the conversations at the party. I also got the sense that Anna Pavlovna is one of those domineering people who likes to be in charge. We also know that she hosts a lot of parties and she is not found of Napoleon (she calls him the antichrist). We know that she is religious especially since she refers to Napoleon as the antichrist.  She talks a lot, but she does try to be helpful. For example she suggests that getting the younger one (of Prince Vassily’s kids) married to the youngest Bolkonsky daughter. Those are just some of the ideas I have come across thus far. Hopefully the book will get less confusing as we read and finally know who each character is and their relationship with one another.

– Alexis

Pierre and Prince Andrey

Some notes for later:

During the soiree a comparison is made between Princess Ellen Vassilyevna Kuragin (Helen; Elena) and her brother Prince Ippolit Vassilvitch Kuragin (Hippolyte). Page 10-11 describe how Ellen is strikingly beautiful and how her brother is just as equally atrocious. For some reason Anna Pavlovna is upset about Pierre and the abbe “talking too eagerly and naturally” over a political conversation. She also refers to Pierre as “the italian” in a derogatory tone. Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, the husband of “the little princess” seems to dislike the guests at the party, even his wife appears to “bore” him, and has enlisted in the army. Comments about being seen in “this society” are reoccurring.
Putting the pieces together:

Pierre, who lacks respect and “nobility” due to his illegitimate birth and Italian heritage, is best friends with Prince Andrey, the highly regarded husband of Princess Ellen. Pierre is an honest man, who is unafraid to think against the beliefs of society. He is a believer in that Napoleon Bonaparte is a fine leader and respectable man, while others, like Anna Pavlovna, strongly disagree. Prince Andrey seems to only have caring and warm emotions for Pierre (he dislikes his own wife). In addition, Andrey dislikes the society which he is apart of, the nobility, and is looking forward to his enlistment in the war as a means of escaping the shallow existence of the upper class. Coincidentally his wife, Ellen, could not be happier as a member of that upper-class society, and is in essence, the epitome of it.

– Christina

Broke the Ice

Alright so the first few pages of this book are already packed with a ton of information. I have to admit, it is pretty difficult to follow seeing as Anna Pavlobna Scherer (a.k.a. Annette Scherer), Prince Vassily, Abbe Morio, Baron Funke, the Empress Marya Fyodorovna, Ippolit, Anatole, Princess Bolkonsky, Prince Bolkonsky, and Liza Meinen are all characters introduced in literally the first six pages. Figuring out who is who and who does what is a complicated thing to attempt. (Luckily, on page XXXV, there is a character list with brief -very brief- explanations of the characters.)

Anyways, so the plot opens up in Russia, and from research (back of the book), it is during the time of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. The story follows the lives of five different families (who are kindly separated in that character list I mentioned earlier).

Thats all I have to say for now, let me know when you guys decipher more of the book.

– Christina


Okay so lets try to read about the first few chapters by the end of the month. We should be around page 100 by the end of the quarter.

– Nelson

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