August 29, 2012

The book that inspired the bag to carry the book


 It’s a Tolstoy-tote weekend.

Order by Sunday and for $20 receive one of our brand new “There is No Explanation” bags as well as The Death of Ivan Ilyich, the book from which the quote derives.

Tolstoy’s classic, written eight years after the publication of Anna Karenina — a time during which, despite the global success of his novels, Tolstoy renounced fiction in favor of religious and philosophical tracts — represents perhaps the most keenly realized melding of his spirituality with his artistic skills.

The tale of a judge who slowly comes to understand that his illness is fatal was inspired when Tolstoy observed at his local train station hundreds of shackled prisoners being sent off to Siberia, many for petty crimes. When Tolstoy learned that the sentencing judge had died, he was roused to consider the judge’s thoughts during his final days — a study on the acceptance of mortality only deepened by the death, during its writing, of one of Tolstoy’s own young children.

The final result is a magisterial story, both chilling and beguiling in the fullness of its empathy, its quotidian detail, and the beauty of its prose, and is, as many have claimed it to be, one of the most moving novellas ever written.

Visit our store today and get this legendary book and a brand new tote bag from Melville House — two Tolstoyan treasures for $20.