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The Death of Ivan Ilych

The Death of Ivan Ilych


by Leo Tolstoy

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Did you know that the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa (best known for his samurai films) made a movie based on The Death of Ivan Ilych? It was called Ikiru, or To Live, and is often considered a masterpiece in its own right. (Though unlike many of his other productions, it is not a samurai film.) (Source)

In his younger days, Tolstoy was addicted to gambling. In 1894 Tolstoy tried to study law, but fails due to his gambling problem. (Source)

Young Tolstoy was also apparently something of a wild man, and chronicled all he did in his diaries. (Source)

At the age of 50, Tolstoy has an existential crisis and came to believe that his life was completely meaningless and futile. He tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide. Later, he published A Confession in 1882, in which he described his personal transformation. He went on to become an outspoken religious and political thinker and social critic, and penned many non-fiction works, including his own version of the Christian gospels (The Gospels in Brief). (Source)

Tolstoy's Christianity came to be defined in particular by non-violent resistance, which he defended at length in The Kingdom of God is Within You (1893). That book turned out to be a pivotal influence on Mohandas K. Gandhi. (Source)

Tolstoy was a very committed vegetarian later in life, and also a committed supporter of Esperanto (a proposed universal language, created in the 19th century). In 1908 he combined the two causes and became the honorary founding president of the International Union of Esperantist Vegetarians. (Source)

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