NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1002951
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Sep
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-0013-8274
How to Live? What We Can Learn from Ivan Ilych's Death
Felps, Maryann
English Journal, v102 n1 p52-56 Sep 2012
Near the first of every school year, the author has the opportunity to talk to her students about death, usually in the midst of their study of "Beowulf" or "Gilgamesh." Occasionally, the discussion results from the recent news of the death of a public figure or, closer to home, a family member. Regardless of the circumstance, her students learn her personal philosophy regarding the inevitability of death and its consequences in the form of a question that she will ask throughout the school year as the situation arises and a particular text addresses the issue. The question is not "Are we going to die?" The question is, "How shall we live?" At that point, the conversation quickly advances beyond any morbidity associated with the topic to a discussion involving both the inevitability of death and the relatively brief time in the scope of the world's history that people live. Great writers from antiquity to the present day have much to say on the subject, but the author finds one text to be particularly effective in its "life lessons" for young people: "The Death of Ivan Ilych" by Leo Tolstoy. In this article, the author shares significant lessons that her students say they have learned during the several years that she has taught "The Death of Ivan Ilych."
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A