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The Cause of it All   By: (1828-1910)

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Leo Tolstoy’s The Cause of it All is a profound exploration of the human condition, perhaps one of Tolstoy’s most introspective works. With a straightforward and undeniably raw narrative style, the author delves into the fundamental questions of life, challenging societal norms and inviting readers to reevaluate their own existence.

The novel centers around the life of its protagonist, Ivan Ilyich, a respected judge with a seemingly successful and happy life. However, as the story unfolds, we enter the labyrinthine depths of Ivan’s mind and witness the gradual erosion of his contentment. Tolstoy skillfully captures the essence of human suffering and anguish, painting a vivid portrait of mental torment that is both haunting and mesmerizing.

What sets The Cause of it All apart is Tolstoy’s unparalleled ability to dissect the human experience, stripping away the mundane and exposing the existential abyss that lies beneath. Ivan’s disillusionment with his own life becomes a mirror through which readers are forced to confront their own mortality and discover the true meaning of their existence.

Tolstoy’s prose, as always, is both a delight and a challenge. He weaves intricate philosophical musings seamlessly into the narrative, provoking deep contemplation in readers. One particular strength of The Cause of it All lies in the author’s masterful use of symbolism, with recurring motifs such as clocks and mirrors serving as constant reminders of the relentless passage of time and the unyielding truth of one’s reflection.

Furthermore, the depth of character development in this novel is astonishing. Ivan Ilyich's transformation throughout the story is skillfully portrayed, capturing the agonizing realization of his life’s meaninglessness. Tolstoy’s characters are complex and layered, their struggles relatable and their errors deeply human. There is a profound emotional resonance in the pages of The Cause of it All that is difficult to shake off long after one has finished reading.

Yet, for all its merits, the novel does have its flaws. At times, Tolstoy's philosophical explorations can become overwhelming, veering towards the didactic. The narrative may seem slow-paced to some readers, and the introspective nature of the story might not resonate with those seeking a more action-driven plot.

Overall, The Cause of it All is an introspective masterpiece, offering readers an intimate yet harrowing glimpse into the darker recesses of the human psyche. Tolstoy’s exploration of the human condition is nothing short of breathtaking, and his ability to craft multidimensional characters allows readers to empathize deeply with their struggles. Despite its occasional detours into excessive philosophizing, this novel is sure to leave a lasting impact on anyone brave enough to embark on this existential journey.

First Page:

[ Transcriber's Note: This e book belongs to Tolstoy's Plays (Complete Edition). The front matter, including the table of contents, can be found in e book 26660; it lists the other plays in the collection.

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible; changes (corrections of spelling and punctuation) made to the original text are listed at the end of this file. ]




AKULÍNA. An old woman of seventy, brisk, dignified, old fashioned.

MICHAEL. Her son, thirty five years old, passionate, self satisfied, vain and strong.

MARTHA. Her daughter in law, a grumbler, speaks much and rapidly.

PARÁSHKA. Ten years old, daughter of Martha and Michael.

TARÁS. The village elder's assistant, speaks slowly and gives himself airs.

A TRAMP. Forty years old, restless, thin, speaks impressively; when drunk is particularly free and easy.

IGNÁT. Forty years old, a buffoon, merry and stupid.



Autumn. A peasant's hut, with a small room partitioned off. Akulína sits spinning; Martha the housewife is kneading bread; little Paráshka is rocking a cradle... Continue reading book >>

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