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"Agony - A Small Price to Pay?: Thoughts on Tolstoy's 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich'" with Claudia Traudt

  • Kibbitznest 2212 North Clybourn Avenue Chicago, IL, 60614 United States (map)
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Kibbitznest Liberal Arts Discussions are a collaboration with The University of Chicago Graham School to host presentations and discussions of original research.


Leo Tolstoy’s 1886 novella, written not too far after his 1870’s “conversion” and turning-up-of-the-burners on his religious thought, is a wonderwork of scathing satire, an expose of the empty and accepted life of a mid-level Russian judge with his family. It is written with delicious and jewel-like precision – and is not-infrequently ruefully funny. It is also a truly haunting, revealing plumbing of human psyches - in all their fears, longings, lies to self and others, escapist dodges, and finally, pulverized by the dying torments wracking his Self, spirit, and body, and touched by a few human empathies, in Ivan Ilych’s paradoxical, affirming 11th-hour breakthrough. This breakthrough - which is unparticipated-in by anyone else.

What is the price, what is the worth—the merit? We shall explore richly.

Sponsor: Kibbitznest Books, Brews & Blarney


About Claudia Traudt:

CLAUDIA TRAUDT holds an MA from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her art-making, research, and teaching explore modes of creation and perception in word and image. She is the 2006 recipient of the Graham School's Excellence in Teaching Award for the Basic Program.

FREE & OPEN to the public

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