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4.8: Chapter 8

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    Было утро. Потому только было утро, что Герасим ушел и пришел Петр-лакей, потушил свечи, открыл одну гардину и стал потихоньку убирать. Утро ли, вечер ли был, пятница, воскресенье ли было – все было все равно, все было одно и то же: ноющая, ни на мгновение не утихающая, мучительная боль; сознание безнадежно все уходящей, но все не ушедшей еще жизни; надвигающаяся все та же страшная ненавистная смерть, которая одна была действительность, и все та же ложь. Какие же тут дни, недели и часы дня? It was morning. He knew it was morning because Gerasim had gone, and Peter the footman had come and put out the candles, drawn back one of the curtains, and begun quietly to tidy up. Whether it was morning or evening, Friday or Sunday, made no difference, it was all just the same: the gnawing, unmitigated, agonizing pain, never ceasing for an instant, the consciousness of life inexorably waning but not yet extinguished, the approach of that ever dreaded and hateful Death which was the only reality, and always the same falsity. What were days, weeks, hours, in such a case?
    – Не прикажете ли чаю? “Will you have some tea, sir?”
    “Ему нужен порядок, чтоб по утрам господа пили чай”, – подумал он и сказал только: “He wants things to be regular, and wishes the gentlefolk to drink tea in the morning,” thought ivan Ilych, and only said:
    – Нет. “No.”
    – Не угодно ли перейти на диван? “Wouldn’t you like to move onto the sofa, sir?”
    “Ему нужно привести в порядок горницу, и я мешаю, я – нечистота, беспорядок”, – подумал он и сказал только: “He wants to tidy up the room, and I’m in the way. I am uncleanliness and disorder,” he thought, and said only:
    – Нет, оставь меня. “No, leave me alone.”
    Лакей повозился еще. Иван Ильич протянул руку. Петр подошел услужливо. The man went on bustling about. Ivan Ilych stretched out his hand. Peter came up, ready to help.
    – Что прикажете? “What is it, sir?”
    – Часы. “My watch.”
    Петр достал часы, лежавшие под рукой, и подал. Peter took the watch which was close at hand and gave it to his master.
    – Половина девятого. Там не встали? “Half-past eight. Are they up?”
    – Никак нет-с. Василий Иванович (это был сын) ушли в гимназию,[1] а Прасковья Федоровна приказали разбудить их, если вы спросите. Прикажете? “No sir, except Vladimir Ivanovich” (the son) “who has gone to school.[1] Praskovya Fedorovna ordered me to wake her if you asked for her. Shall I do so?”
    – Нет, не надо. – “Не попробовать ли чаю?” – подумал он. – Да, чаю… принеси. “No, there’s no need to.” “Perhaps I’d better have some tea,” he thought, and added aloud: “Yes, bring me some tea.”
    Петр пошел к выходу. Ивану Ильичу страшно стало оставаться одному. “Чем бы задержать его? Да, лекарство”. – Петр, подай мне лекарство. – “Отчего же, может быть, еще поможет и лекарство”. Он взял ложку, выпил. “Нет, не поможет. Все это вздор, обман, – решил он, как только почувствовал знакомый приторный и безнадежный вкус. – Нет, уж не могу верить. Но боль-то, боль-то зачем, хоть на минуту затихла бы”. И он застонал. Петр вернулся. – Нет, иди. Принеси чаю. Peter went to the door, but Ivan Ilych dreaded being left alone. “How can I keep him here? Oh yes, my medicine.” –Peter, give me my medicine.– “Why not? Perhaps it may still do some good.” He took a spoonful and swallowed it. “No, it won’t help. It’s all tomfoolery, all deception,” he decided as soon as he became aware of the familiar, sickly, hopeless taste. “No, I can’t believe in it any longer. But the pain, why this pain? If it would only cease just for a moment!” And he moaned. Peter turned towards him. “It’s all right. Go and fetch me some tea.”
    Петр ушел. Иван Ильич, оставшись один, застонал не столько от боли, как она ни была ужасна, сколько от тоски. “Все то же и то же, все эти бесконечные дни и ночи. Хоть бы скорее. Что скорее? Смерть, мрак. Нет, нет. Все лучше смерти!” Peter went out. Left alone Ivan Ilych groaned not so much with pain, terrible though that was, as from mental anguish. Always and for ever the same, always these endless days and nights. If only it would come quicker! If only what would come quicker? Death, darkness?…No, no! anything rather than death!
    Когда Петр вошел с чаем на подносе, Иван Ильич долго растерянно смотрел на него, не понимая, кто он и что он. Петр смутился от этого взгляда. И когда Петр смутился, Иван Ильич очнулся. When Peter returned with the tea on a tray, Ivan Ilych stared at him for a time in perplexity, not realizing who and what he was. Peter was disconcerted by that look and his embarrassment brought Ivan Ilych to himself.
    – Да, – сказал он, – чай… хорошо, поставь. Только помоги мне умыться и рубашку чистую. “Oh, tea! All right, put it down. Only help me to wash and put on a clean shirt.”
    И Иван Ильич стал умываться. Он с отдыхом умыл руки, лицо, вычистил зубы, стал причесываться и посмотрел в зеркало. Ему страшно стало: особенно страшно было то, как волосы плоско прижимались к бледному лбу. And Ivan Ilych began to wash. With pauses for rest, he washed his hands and then his face, cleaned his teeth, brushed his hair, looked in the glass. He was terrified by what he saw, especially by the limp way in which his hair clung to his pallid forehead.
    Когда переменяли ему рубашку, он знал, что ему будет еще страшнее, если он взглянет на свое тело, и не смотрел на себя. Но вот кончилось все. Он надел халат, укрылся пледом и сел в кресло к чаю. Одну минуту он почувствовал себя освеженным, но только что он стал пить чай, опять тот же вкус, та же боль. Он насильно допил и лег, вытянув ноги. Он лег и отпустил Петра. While his shirt was being changed he knew that he would be still more frightened at the sight of his body, so he avoided looking at it. Finally he was ready. He drew on a dressing-gown, wrapped himself in a plaid, and sat down in the armchair to take his tea. For a moment he felt refreshed, but as soon as he began to drink the tea he was again aware of the same taste, and the pain also returned. He finished it with an effort, and then lay down stretching out his legs, and dismissed Peter.
    Все то же. То капля надежды блеснет, то взбушуется море отчаяния, и все боль, все боль, все тоска и все одно и то же. Одному ужасно тоскливо, хочется позвать кого-нибудь, но он вперед знает, что при других еще хуже. “Хоть бы опять морфин – забыться бы.[2] Я скажу ему, доктору, чтоб он придумал что-нибудь еще. Это невозможно, невозможно так”. Always the same. Now a spark of hope flashes up, then a sea of despair rages, and always pain; always pain, always despair, and always the same. When alone he had a dreadful and distressing desire to call someone, but he knew beforehand that with others present it would be still worse. “Another dose of morphine–to lose consciousness.[2] I will tell him, the doctor, that he must think of something else. It’s impossible, impossible, to go on like this.”
    Час, два проходит так. Но вот звонок в передней. Авось доктор. Точно, это доктор, свежий, бодрый, жирным, веселый, с тем выражением – что вот вы там чего-то напугались, а мы сейчас вам все устроим. Доктор знает, что это выражение здесь не годится, но он уже раз навсегда надел его и не может снять, как человек, с утра надевший фрак и едущий с визитами. Доктор бодро, утешающе потирает руки. An hour and another pass like that. But now there is a ring at the door bell. Perhaps it’s the doctor? It is. He comes in fresh, hearty, plump, and cheerful, with that look on his face that seems to say: “There now, you’re in a panic about something, but we’ll arrange it all for you directly!” The doctor knows this expression is out of place here, but he has put it on once for all and can’t take it off — like a man who has put on a frock-coat in the morning to pay a round of calls.
    – Я холоден.[3] Мороз здоровый. Дайте обогреюсь, – говорит он с таким выражением, что как будто только надо немножко подождать, пока он обогреется, а когда обогреется, то уж все исправит. “Brr! How cold it is![3] There’s such a sharp frost; just let me warm myself!” he says, as if it were only a matter of waiting till he was warm, and then he would put everything right.
    – Ну что, как? “Well now, how are you?”
    Иван Ильич чувствует, что доктору хочется сказать: “Как делишки?”,[4] но что и он чувствует, что так нельзя говорить, и говорит: “Как вы провели ночь?” Ivan Ilych feels that the doctor would like to say: “Well, how are our affairs?”[4] but that even he feels that this would not do, and says instead: “What sort of a night have you had?”
    Иван Ильич смотрит на доктора с выражением вопроса: “Неужели никогда не станет тебе стыдно врать?” Ivan Ilych looks at him as much as to say: “Are you really never ashamed of lying?”
    Но доктор не хочет понимать вопрос. But the doctor does not wish to understand this question.
    И Иван Ильич говорит: And Ivan Ilych says:
    – Все так же ужасно. Боль не проходит, не сдается. Хоть бы что-нибудь! “Just as terrible as ever. The pain never leaves me and never subsides. If only something … “
    – Да, вот вы, больные, всегда так. Ну-с, теперь, кажется, я согрелся, даже аккуратнейшая Прасковья Федоровна ничего бы не имела возразить против моей температуры. Ну-с, здравствуйте. – И доктор пожимает руку. “Yes, you sick people are always like that…. There, now I think I am warm enough. Even Praskovya Fedorovna, who is so particular, could find no fault with my temperature. Well, now I can say good-morning,” and the doctor presses his patient’s hand.
    И, откинув всю прежнюю игривость, доктор начинает с серьезным видом исследовать больного, пульс, температуру, и начинаются постукиванья, прослушиванья. Then dropping his former playfulness, he begins with a most serious face to examine the patient, feeling his pulse and taking his temperature, and then begins the sounding and auscultation.
    Иван Ильич знает твердо и несомненно, что все это вздор и пустой обман, но когда доктор, став на коленки, вытягивается над ним, прислоняя ухо то выше, то ниже, и делает над ним с значительнейшим лицом разные гимнастические эволюции, Иван Ильич поддается этому, как он поддавался, бывало, речам адвокатов, тогда как он уж очень хорошо знал, что они всё врут и зачем врут. Ivan Ilych knows quite well and definitely that all this is nonsense and pure deception, but when the doctor, getting down on his knee, leans over him, putting his ear first higher then lower, and performs various gymnastic movements over him with a significant expression on his face, Ivan Ilych submits to it all as he used to submit to the speeches of the lawyers, though he knew very well that they were all lying and why they were lying.
    Доктор, стоя на коленках на диване, еще что-то выстукивал, когда зашумело в дверях шелковое платье Прасковьи Федоровны и послышался ее упрек Петру, что ей не доложили о приезде доктора. The doctor, kneeling on the sofa, is still sounding him when Praskovya Fedorovna’s silk dress rustles at the door and she is heard scolding Peter for not having let her know of the doctor’s arrival.
    Она входит, целует мужа и тотчас же начинает доказывать, что она давно уж встала и только по недоразумению ее не было тут, когда приехал доктор. She comes in, kisses her husband, and at once proceeds to prove that she has been up a long time already, and only owing to a misunderstanding failed to be there when the doctor arrived.
    Иван Ильич смотрит на нее, разглядывает ее всю и в упрек ставит ей и белизну, и пухлость, и чистоту ее рук, шеи, глянец ее волос и блеск ее полных жизни глаз. Он всеми силами души ненавидит ее,[5] и прикосновение ее заставляет его страдать от прилива ненависти к ней. Ivan Ilych looks at her, scans her all over, sets against her the whiteness and plumpness and cleanness of her hands and neck, the gloss of her hair, and the sparkle of her vivacious eyes. He hates her with his whole soul.[5] And the thrill of hatred he feels for her makes him suffer from her touch.
    Ее отношение к нему и его болезни все то же. Как доктор выработал себе отношение к больным, которое он не мог уже снять, так она выработала одно отношение к нему – то, что он не делает чего-то того, что нужно, и сам виноват, и она любовно укоряет его в этом, – и не могла уже снять этого отношения к нему.[6] Her attitude towards him and his disease is still the same. Just as the doctor had adopted a certain relation to his patient which he could not abandon, so had she formed one towards him — that he was not doing something he ought to do and was himself to blame, and that she reproached him lovingly for this — and she could not now change that attitude.[6]
    – Да ведь вот он, не слушается! Не принимает вовремя. А главное – ложится в такое положение, которое, наверное, вредно ему – ноги кверху. “You see he doesn’t listen to me and doesn’t take his medicine at the proper time. And above all he lies in a position that is no doubt bad for him — with his legs up.”
    Она рассказала, как он заставляет Герасима держать себе ноги. She described how he made Gerasim hold his legs up.
    Доктор улыбнулся презрительно-ласково: “Что ж, мол, делать, эти больные выдумывают иногда такие глупости; но можно простить”. The doctor smiled with a contemptuous affability that said: “What’s to be done? These sick people do have foolish fancies of that kind, but we must forgive them.”
    Когда осмотр кончился, доктор посмотрел на часы, и тогда Прасковья Федоровна объявила Ивану Ильичу, что уж как он хочет, а она нынче пригласила знаменитого доктора, и они вместе с Михаилом Даниловичем (так звали обыкновенного доктора) осмотрят и обсудят.[7] When the examination was over the doctor looked at his watch, and then Praskovya Fedorovna announced to Ivan Ilych that it was of course as he pleased, but she had sent today for a celebrated specialist who would examine him and have a consultation with Michael Danilovich (their regular doctor).[7]
    – Ты уж не противься, пожалуйста. Это я для себя делаю, – сказала она иронически, давая чувствовать, что она все делает для него и только этим не дает ему права отказать ей. Он молчал и морщился. Он чувствовал, что ложь эта, окружающая его, так путалась, что уж трудно было разобрать что-нибудь. “Please don’t raise any objections. I am doing this for my own sake,” she said ironically, letting it be felt that she was doing it all for his sake and only said this to leave him no right to refuse. He remained silent, knitting his brows. He felt that he was surrounded and involved in such a mesh of falsity that it was hard to unravel anything.
    Она все над ним делала только для себя и говорила ему, что она делает для себя то, что она точно делала для себя как такую невероятную вещь, что он должен был понимать это обратно.[8] Everything she did for him was entirely for her own sake, and she told him she was doing for herself what she actually was doing for herself, as if that was so incredible that he must understand the opposite.[8]
    Действительно, в половине двенадцатого приехал знаменитый доктор. Опять пошли выслушиванья и значительные разговоры при нем и в другой комнате о почке, о слепой кишке и вопросы и ответы с таким значительным видом, что опять вместо реального, вопроса о жизни и смерти, который уже теперь один стоял перед ним, выступил вопрос о почке и слепой кишке, которые что-то делали не так, как следовало, и на которые за это вот-вот нападут Михаил Данилович и знаменитость и заставят их исправиться. At half-past eleven the celebrated specialist arrived. Again the sounding began and the significant conversations in his presence and in another room, about the kidney and the appendix, and the questions and answers, with such an air of importance that again, instead of the real question of life and death which now alone confronted him, the question arose of the kidney and appendix which were not behaving as they ought to and would now be attacked by Michael Danilovich and the specialist and forced to amend their ways.
    Знаменитый доктор простился с серьезным, но не с безнадежным видом. И на робкий вопрос, который с поднятыми к нему блестящими страхом и надеждой глазами обратил Иван Ильич, есть ли возможность выздоровления, отвечал, что ручаться нельзя, но возможность есть. Взгляд надежды, с которым Иван Ильич проводил доктора, был так жалок, что, увидав его, Прасковья Федоровна даже заплакала, выходя из дверей кабинета, чтобы передать гонорар знаменитому доктору. The celebrated specialist took leave of him with a serious though not hopeless look, and in reply to the timid question Ivan Ilych, with eyes glistening with fear and hope, put to him as to whether there was a chance of recovery, said that he could not vouch for it but there was a possibility. The look of hope with which Ivan Ilych watched the doctor out was so pathetic that Praskovya Fedorovna, seeing it, even wept as she left the room to hand the doctor his fee.
    Подъем духа, произведенный обнадеживанием доктора, продолжался недолго. Опять та же комната, те же картины, гардины, обои, склянки и то же свое болящее, страдающее тело. И Иван Ильич начал стонать; ему сделали вспрыскиванье, и он забылся. The gleam of hope kindled by the doctor’s encouragement did not last long. The same room, the same pictures, curtains, wall- paper, medicine bottles, were all there, and the same aching suffering body, and Ivan Ilych began to moan. They gave him a subcutaneous injection and he sank into oblivion.
    Когда он очнулся, стало смеркаться; ему принесли обедать. Он поел с усилием бульона; и опять то же, и опять наступающая ночь. It was twilight when he came to. They brought him his dinner and he swallowed some beef tea with difficulty, and then everything was the same again and night was coming on.
    После обеда, в семь часов, в комнату его вошла Прасковья Федоровна, одетая как на вечер, с толстыми, подтянутыми грудями и с следами пудры на лице. Она еще утром напоминала ему о поездке их в театр. Была приезжая Сарра Бернар, и у них была ложа, которую он настоял, чтоб они взяли.[9] Теперь он забыл про это, и ее наряд оскорбил его. Но он скрыл свое оскорбление, когда вспомнил, что он сам настаивал, чтоб они достали ложу и ехали, потому что это для детей воспитательное эстетическое наслаждение. After dinner, at seven o’clock, Praskovya Fedorovna came into the room in evening dress, her full bosom pushed up by her corset, and with traces of powder on her face. She had reminded him in the morning that they were going to the theatre. Sarah Bernhardt was visiting the town and they had a box, which he had insisted on their taking.[9] Now he had forgotten about it and her toilet offended him, but he concealed his vexation when he remembered that he had himself insisted on their securing a box and going because it would be an instructive and aesthetic pleasure for the children.
    Прасковья Федоровна вошла довольная собою, но как будто виноватая. Она присела, спросила о здоровье, как он видел, для того только, чтоб спросить, но не для того, чтобы узнать, зная, что и узнавать нечего, и начала говорить то, что ей нужно было: что она ни за что не поехала бы, но ложа взята, и едут Элен и дочь и Петрищев (судебный следователь, жених дочери), и что невозможно их пустить одних. А что ей так бы приятнее было посидеть с ним. Только бы он делал без нее по предписанию доктора. Praskovya Fedorovna came in, self-satisfied but yet with a rather guilty air. She sat down and asked how he was, but, as he saw, only for the sake of asking and not in order to learn about it, knowing that there was nothing to learn — and then went on to what she really wanted to say: that she would not on any account have gone but that the box had been taken and Helen and their daughter were going, as well as Petrishchev (the examining magistrate, their daughter’s fiance) and that it was out of the question to let them go alone; but that she would have much preferred to sit with him for a while; and he must be sure to follow the doctor’s orders while she was away.
    – Да, и Федор Петрович (жених) хотел войти. Можно? И Лиза. “Oh, and Fedor Petrovich” (the fiance) “would like to come in. May he? And Lisa?”
    – Пускай войдут. “All right.”
    Вошла дочь разодетая, с обнаженным молодым телом, тем телом, которое так заставляло страдать его. А она его выставляла. Сильная, здоровая, очевидно, влюбленная и негодующая на болезнь, страдания и смерть, мешающие ее счастью. Their daughter came in in full evening dress, her fresh young flesh exposed (making a show of that very flesh which in his own case caused so much suffering), strong, healthy, evidently in love, and impatient with illness, suffering, and death, because they interfered with her happiness.
    Вошел и Федор Петрович во фраке, завитой à la Capoul,[10] с длинной жилистой шеей, обложенной плотно белым воротничком, с огромной белой грудью и обтянутыми сильными ляжками в узких черных штанах, с одной натянутой белой перчаткой на руке и с клаком.[11] Fedor Petrovich came in too, in evening dress, his hair curled à la Capoul,[10] a tight stiff collar round his long sinewy neck, an enormous white shirt-front and narrow black trousers tightly stretched over his strong thighs. He had one white glove tightly drawn on, and was holding his opera hat in his hand.[11]
    За ним вполз незаметно и гимназистик в новеньком мундирчике, бедняжка, в перчатках и с ужасной синевой под глазами, значение которой знал Иван Ильич. Following him the schoolboy crept in unnoticed, in a new uniform, poor little fellow, and wearing gloves. Terribly dark shadows showed under his eyes, the meaning of which Ivan Ilych knew well.
    Сын всегда жалок был ему. И страшен был его испуганный и соболезнующий взгляд. Кроме Герасима, Ивану Ильичу казалось, что один Вася понимал и жалел. His son had always seemed pathetic to him, and now it was dreadful to see the boy’s frightened look of pity. It seemed to Ivan Ilych that Vasya was the only one besides Gerasim who understood and pitied him.
    Все сели, опять спросили о здоровье. Произошло молчание. Лиза спросила у матери о бинокле. Произошли пререкания между матерью и дочерью, кто куда его дел. Вышло неприятно. They all sat down and again asked how he was. A silence followed. Lisa asked her mother about the opera glasses, and there was an altercation between mother and daughter as to who had taken them and where they had been put. This occasioned some unpleasantness.
    Федор Петрович спросил у Ивана Ильича, видел ли он Сарру Бернар. Иван Ильич не понял сначала того, что у него спрашивали, а потом сказал: Fedor Petrovich inquired of Ivan Ilych whether he had ever seen Sarah Bernhardt. Ivan Ilych did not at first catch the question, but then replied:
    – Нет; а вы уж видели? “No, have you seen her before?”
    – Да, в “Adrienne Lecouvreur.” “Yes, in Adrienne Lecouvreur.”
    Прасковья Федоровна сказала, что она особенно хороша в том-то. Дочь возразила. Начался разговор об изяществе и реальности ее игры, – тот самый разговор, который всегда бывает один и тот же.[12] Praskovya Fedorovna mentioned some roles in which Sarah Bernhardt was particularly good. Her daughter disagreed. Conversation sprang up as to the elegance and realism of her acting — the sort of conversation that is always repeated and is always the same.[12]
    В середине разговора Федор Петрович взглянул на Ивана Ильича и замолк. Другие взглянули и замолкли. Иван Ильич смотрел блестящими глазами пред собою, очевидно, негодуя на них. Надо было поправить это, но поправить никак нельзя было. Надо было как-нибудь прервать это молчание. Никто не решался, и всем становилось страшно, что вдруг нарушится как-нибудь приличная ложь, и ясно будет всем то, что есть. Лиза первая решилась. Она прервала молчанье. Она хотела скрыть то, что все испытывали, но проговорилась. In the midst of the conversation Fedor Petrovich glanced at Ivan Ilych and became silent. The others also looked at him and grew silent. Ivan Ilych was staring with glittering eyes straight before him, evidently indignant with them. This had to be rectified, but it was impossible to do so. The silence had to be broken, but for a time no one dared to break it and they all became afraid that the conventional deception would suddenly become obvious and the truth become plain to all. Lisa was the first to pluck up courage and break that silence, but by trying to hide what everybody was feeling, she betrayed it.
    – Однако, если ехать, то пора, – сказала она, взглянув на свои часы, подарок отца, и чуть заметно, значительно о чем-то, им одним известном, улыбнулась молодому человеку и встала, зашумев платьем. Все встали, простились и уехали. “Well, if we are going it’s time to start,” she said, looking at her watch, a present from her father, and with a faint and significant smile at Fedor Petrovich relating to something known only to them. She got up with a rustle of her dress. They all rose, said good-night, and went away. They all rose, said good-night, and went away.
    Опять пошли минута за минутой, час за часом, все то же, и все нет конца, и все страшнее неизбежный конец.[13] Again minute followed minute and hour followed hour. Everything remained the same and there was no cessation. And the inevitable end of it all became more and more terrible.[13]
    – Да, пошлите Герасима, – ответил он на вопрос Петра. “Yes, send Gerasim here,” he replied to a question Peter asked.

    1. The use of a plural verb form ("ushli") with a singular subject ("Vasily Ivanovich") is a mark of deference shown by a social inferior when speaking of a social superior. The use of this form of speech by Peter is normal in the conventional interactions between master and servant, and is in marked contrast with the explicitly noted use of the familiar form of address by Gerasim several paragraphs earlier. ↵
    2. The word "zabyt'sja" (lit., "to forget oneself") may be defined in Russian as "terjat' soznanie" ("to lose consciousness"). The centrality of "consciousness" in Tolstoy's world-view has been mentioned before. Ivan Ilich's desire to "lose consciousness" is an oblique admission that the distressed condition of his consciousness is a much worse problem than his deteriorating physical condition. Thus, the text keeps insisting that the pain of the falseness and lying all around him is much worse than his physical suffering. It is as though Ivan Ilich believes that if he could just lull his consciousness to sleep it would stop hurting him, stop insisting on the truth that it is dying or as good as dead, and permit the return of the comforting illusion that it is merely that his body, his physical self is ill. Consciousness is thereby identified with an inner, spiritual self which is making itself ever more insistently present as Ivan Ilich's bodily strength and confidence wanes. ↵
    3. The usual way to say that one feels cold in Russian is to use the impersonal expression: "mne xolodno" (lit., "to me (it) is cold") The doctor, however, uses the personal expression "ja xoloden" (lit., "I am cold") and thereby comes perilously close to the expression "ja xolodnyj" ("I am a cold (i.e., unfeeling) person"). This is another of the many examples of the significant hidden beneath the trivial and of the unwitting declaration of the truth. We remember the brother-in-law's comment in Chapter Six: "Why, he's a dead man." ↵
    4. That is, to use a very informal and playful version of the standard question: "kak dela" ("how are things going"). Given the prominent role of card games as a metaphor for the empty and artificial life of Ivan Ilich, one might well imagine the doctor inquiring "How's tricks?" ↵
    5. The cliche "vsemi silami dushi" ("with all the strength of (his) soul") also, of course, suggests that Ivan Ilich does after all, at least, have a soul which is capable of strong sensations, and therefore that he may not be completely lost spiritually. ↵
    6. This very important passage conveys several messages simultaneously. The most obvious concerns the attitude which both the doctor and Praskovya Fyodorovna have adopted toward Ivan Ilich and his illness. The Russian word which Maude translates as "adopted" is 'vyrabotal' ('worked out', 'constructed by effort'), suggesting the artificiality of their relation to him (despite their pleas of sincerity). The doctor's inability to "abandon" this attitude and Praskovya Fyodorovna's inability to "change" it are both reflections of the same Russian word 'snjat'' ('to take down', 'to take off, as clothing or covers'). Thus, the attitude which they have adopted toward him is a covering or screen which they have put up between him and themselves. Once again, the familiar image of screens, curtains, fences, walls, enclosures, which we have seen so often in the attitudes of Ivan Ilich himself. A second point emerging from this passage is that Praskovya Fyodorovna's superficial attitude toward him is one of loving concern while at the same time it is clear that her actual attitude is one of hostile impatience for his death, that is, that her real attitude is the opposite of her professed attitude. A couple of paragraphs farther down she makes the facetiously intended but none the less curious statement that everything she does for him is done "for my own sake." The text adds this explanation: "He felt that he was surrounded and enmeshed in such a web of falsity that it was hard to unravel anything. Everything she did for him was entirely for her own sake; she told him she was doing for herself what she actually was doing for herself, as if that was so incredible he must understand the opposite." From this it emerges that the truth can be known by understanding everything we observe as its opposite. Thus, when Praskovya Fyodorovna says facetiously that she is doing what she is doing only for herself, we should understand that she actually means this seriously. Conversely, her "loving reproaches" are really manifestations of hatred. Finally, since it is in fact true that Praskovya Fyodorovna really is concerned only with herself--that is, she is telling the truth here--perhaps it is possible that the other claim she makes here is also true, namely her suggestion that Ivan Ilich "was not doing something he ought to do and was himself to blame" for his condition. She, of course, believes herself to be speaking of her husband's physiological distress, just as, in the case of her other comment she believes herself to be speaking facetiously. With respect to her husband's spiritual distress, however, it may be that she is unwittingly speaking the exact truth. What is required is to understand both what she says and what we as readers seem to see in reverse, the other way around, backwards (Russ. 'obratno') in order to see the situation rightly. Therefore, it is certain that her complaint that lying with his legs up on Gerasim's shoulders is "bad for him" (since she means it seriously) is bound to be wrong. In fact, contact of this sort with Gerasim must be good for Ivan Ilich. Following this line of thought we soon come to the conclusion that all the while we were being presented with what seemed to be an account of Ivan Ilich's life, we were actually seeing the story of his death, and now, when we seem to be observing the increasingly rapid process of his death, we are actually seeing the beginnings of renewed life. The major idea to be grasped from this passage is that Ivan Ilich himself by not "doing what he ought" has brought his spiritual illness and death upon himself. ↵
    7. The use of the word "obsudjat" ("will discuss to a conclusion") suggests most clearly that not only is the behavior of the doctors like the behavior of the judges Ivan Ilich knows from his life at court (as noted earlier) but actually is virtually the same thing as their behavior. The word "obsudit'" is derived from the same root from which come "sud" ("a court, legal process"), "sud'ja" ("a judge"), "sudit'" ("to judge, render judgement"). This conclusion is confirmed by the playfully condemnatory tone of the doctor in blaming the patient for his foolish actions and his generously being willing to forgive him. ↵
    8. In Chapter Twelve Ivan Ilich's attempt to understand what his life has been is compared to the "sensation one sometimes experiences in a railway carriage when one thinks one is going backwards while one is really going forwards and suddenly becomes aware of the real direction." This confirms the idea presented in note 1, above, that this pattern of reversal is a characteristic feature of the structure of the novel. ↵
    9. Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), a world-famous French actress, toured Russia in the winter of 1882-83. ↵
    10. Joseph Capoul (1839-1924) a French opera singer known for a hairstyle which featured curls falling over the forehead. ↵
    11. The descriptions of the clothing of Praskovya Fyodorovna and Fyodor Petrovich make emphatic use of words suggesting the constriction of their dress: Praskovya Fyodorovna with her "tolstymi podtjanutymi grud'jami" ("heavy, tightly cinched, breasts"); Fyodor Petrovich with his "sheej, oblozhennoj plotno belym vorotnichkom" ("neck tightly encased by a white collar"), his "ogromnoj beloj grud'ju" ("enormous white breast"), his "obtjanutymi sil'nymi ljazhkami v uzkix chernyx shtanax" ("strong thighs fitted tightly in narrow black trousers"), and his "natjanutoj beloj perchatkoj na ruke" ("white glove drawn tautly onto his hand"). The suggestion would seem to be that even in the matter of clothing these people find it necessary to enclose themselves, hem themselves in, providing a visible refrain to the immediate cause of Ivan Ilich's despair, just prior to these descriptions: "the same old room, the same old curtains, the same little bottles." ↵
    12. A famous French actress (1844-1923) who toured Russia in 1881-82. One of her most famous roles was that of Adrienne Lecouvreur in the play of that name by Scribe and Legouve. The heroine of the play is herself an actress, so we are presented here with the family's desire to hasten away from the bedside of its dying father and husband in order to be present at a play (an exercise in pretending and voluntary self-deception) in which the lead actress is most admired for her portrayal of the life of another actress. The distance between the family's proposed activity and the reality of life is astonishingly great. The detailed emphasis on their manner of dress, their costumes, as it were, is entirely in the same spirit. Of course, the family's ability to carry on with its plan of an evening at the theater is made possible in the first place only by pretending that Ivan Ilich is only ill rather than dying. Ivan Ilich resents most of all that he is required to join the family in this pretense. Only Ivan Ilich's son is exempt from the hatred which Ivan Ilich feels toward his family for their constant lying about his condition and their insistence that he, too, join them in this lie. The son, Vasya, is mentioned here in the same sentence with Gerasim, the only other character who deals truthfully with Ivan Ilich, and who touches him in a meaningful way. In Chapter Twelve, Ivan Ilich's moment of grace coincides with his hand being grasped by his son. In the context of this passage, we might say that Gerasim and Vasya are concerned with life itself while the rest of the family and household prefers to deal with the imitation of life, both on the stage and in their own lives. ↵
    13. There would seem to be a paradox here in that "there is no end" and the "end is inescapable" are asserted in contiguous clauses. This foreshadows Ivan Ilich's attitude toward the image of the "black sack" which will make its first appearance in the Chapter Nine. He feels that "he and his pain" are being pushed into a constricting black sack and that he "was frightened yet wanted to fall through the sack, he struggled but yet co-operated." This ambivalence is associated with Ivan Ilich's gradual realization that his life, as he has lived it, is not a real life at all, but only the semblance of a life, a playing at life. If life is not life, then is it death? And what then is the end of that life that is not life? The reversal, the looking at things backward which is so often seen in the text has its ultimate significance in the idea that Ivan Ilich's life is actually death and only the end of that false life offers the possibility of true life. "Life" is death and "death" is life. ↵

    This page titled 4.8: Chapter 8 is shared under a CC BY-NC license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gary R. Jahn (Minnesota Libraries Publishing Project) .

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