The Russian and English texts of “The Death of Ivan Ilich” Presented Side by Side

Chapter 11

Так прошло две недели. В эти недели случилось желанное для Ивана Ильича и его жены событие: Петрищев сделал формальное предложение. Это случилось вечером. На другой день Прасковья Федоровна вошла к мужу, обдумывая, как объявить ему о предложении Федора Петровича, но в эту самую ночь с Иваном Ильичом свершилась новая перемена к худшему. Прасковья Федоровна застала его на том же диване, но в новом положении. Он лежал навзничь, стонал и смотрел перед собою остановившимся взглядом.
Another two weeks went by in this way and during that fortnight an even occurred that Ivan Ilych and his wife had desired. Petrishchev formally proposed. It happened in the evening. The next day Praskovya Fedorovna came into her husband’s room considering how best to inform him of it, but that very night there had been a fresh change for the worse in his condition. She found him still lying on the sofa but in a different position. He lay on his back, groaning and staring fixedly straight in front of him.
Она стала говорить о лекарствах. Он перевел свой взгляд на нее. Она не договорила того, что начала: такая злоба, именно к ней, выражалась в этом взгляде. – Ради Христа, дай мне умереть спокойно, – сказал он.
She began to remind him of his medicines, but he turned his eyes towards her with such a look that she did not finish what she was saying; so great an animosity, to her in particular, did that look express. “For Christ’s sake let me die in peace!” he said.
Она хотела уходить, но в это время вошла дочь и подошла поздороваться. Он так же посмотрел на дочь, как и на жену и на ее вопросы о здоровье сухо сказал ей, что он скоро освободит их всех от себя. Обе замолчали, посидели и вышли.
She would have gone away, but just then their daughter came in and went up to say good morning. He looked at her as he had done at his wife, and in reply to her inquiry about his health said dryly that he would soon free them all of himself. They were both silent and after sitting with him for a while went away.
– В чем же мы виноваты? – сказала Лиза матери. – Точно мы это сделали![1] Мне жалко папа, но за что же нас мучать?[2]
“Is it our fault?” Lisa said to her mother. “It’s as if we were to blame![1] I am sorry for papa, but why should we be tortured?”[2]
В обычное время приехал доктор. Иван Ильич отвечал ему: “да, нет”, не спуская с, него озлобленного взгляда, и под конец сказал:
The doctor came at his usual time. Ivan Ilych answered “Yes” and “No,” never taking his angry eyes from him, and at last said:
– Ведь вы знаете, что ничего не поможет, так оставьте.
“You know you can do nothing for me, so leave me alone.”
– Облегчить страдания можем, – сказал доктор.
“We can ease your sufferings.”
– И того не можете; оставьте.
“You can’t even do that. Let me be.”
Доктор вышел в гостиную и сообщил Прасковье Федоровне, что очень плохо и что одно средство – опиум, чтобы облегчить страдания, которые должны быть ужасны.
The doctor went into the drawing room and told Praskovya Fedorovna that the case was very serious and that the only resource left was opium to allay her husband’s sufferings, which must be terrible.
Доктор оговорил, что страдания его физические ужасны, и это была правда; но ужаснее его физических страданий были его нравственные страдания, и в этом было главное его мучение.
It was true, as the doctor said, that Ivan Ilych’s physical sufferings were terrible, but worse than the physical sufferings were his mental sufferings which were his chief torture.
Нравственные страдания его состояли в том, что в эту ночь, глядя на сонное, добродушное скуластое лицо Герасима, ему вдруг пришло в голову: а что, как и в самом деле вся моя жизнь, сознательная жизнь, была “не то”.
His mental sufferings were due to the fact that that night, as he looked at Gerasim’s sleepy, good-natured face with its prominent cheek-bones, the question suddenly occurred to him: “What if my whole life has been wrong?”
Ему пришло в голову, что то, что ему представлялось прежде совершенной невозможностью, то, что он прожил свою жизнь не так, как должно было, что это могло быть правда. Ему пришло в голову, что те его чуть заметные поползновения борьбы против того, что наивысше поставленными людьми считалось хорошим, поползновения чуть заметные, которые он тотчас же отгонял от себя, – что они-то и могли быть настоящие, а остальное все могло быть не то. И его служба, и его устройства жизни, и его семья, и эти интересы общества и службы – все это могло быть не то. Он попытался защитить пред собой все это. И вдруг почувствовал всю слабость того, что он защищает.[3] И защищать нечего было.
It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. And his professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and of his family, and all his social and official interests, might all have been false. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly felt the weakness of what he was defending.[3] There was nothing to defend.
“А если это так, – сказал он себе, – и я ухожу из жизни с сознанием того, что погубил все, что мне дано было, и поправить нельзя, тогда что ж?”[4] Он лег навзничь и стал совсем по-новому перебирать всю свою жизнь. Когда он увидал утром лакея, потом жену, потом дочь, потом доктора, – каждое их движение, каждое их слово подтверждало для него ужасную истину, открывшуюся ему ночью. Он в них видел себя, все то, чем он жил, и ясно видел, что все это было не то, все это был ужасный огромный обман, закрывающий и жизнь и смерть.[5] Это сознание увеличило, удесятерило его физические страдания. Он стонал и метался и обдергивал на себе одежду. Ему казалось, что она душила и давила его. И за это он ненавидел их.
“But if that is so,” he said to himself, “and I am leaving this life with the consciousness that I have lost all that was given me and it is impossible to rectify it — what then?”[4] He lay on his back and began to pass his life in review in quite a new way. In the morning when he saw first his footman, then his wife, then his daughter, and then the doctor, their every word and movement confirmed to him the awful truth that had been revealed to him during the night. In them he saw himself — all that for which he had lived — and saw clearly that it was not real at all, but a terrible and huge deception which had hidden both life and death.[5] This consciousness intensified his physical suffering tenfold. He groaned and tossed about, and pulled at his clothing which choked and stifled him. And he hated them on that account.
Ему дали большую дозу опиума, он забылся; но в обед началось опять то же. Он гнал всех от себя и метался с места на место.
He was given a large dose of opium and became unconscious, but at noon his sufferings began again. He drove everybody away and tossed from side to side.
Жена пришла к нему и сказала:
His wife came to him and said:
– Jean, голубчик, сделай это для меня (для меня?). Это не может повредить, но часто помогает. Что же, это ничего. И здоровые часто…
“Jean, my dear, do this for me. It can’t do any harm and often helps. Healthy people often do it.”
Он открыл широко глаза.
He opened his eyes wide.
– Что? Причаститься? Зачем? Не надо! А впрочем…
“What? Take communion? Why? It’s unnecessary! However…”
Она заплакала.
She began to cry.
– Да, мой друг? Я позову нашего, он такой милый.
“Yes, do, my dear. I’ll send for our priest. He is such a nice man.”
– Прекрасно, очень хорошо, – проговорил он.
“All right. Very well,” he muttered.
Когда пришел священник и исповедовал его, он смягчился, почувствовал как будто облегчение от своих сомнений и вследствие этого от страданий, и на него нашла минута надежды. Он опять стал думать о слепой кишке и возможности исправления ее. Он причастился со слезами на глазах.
When the priest came and heard his confession, Ivan Ilych was softened and seemed to feel a relief from his doubts and consequently from his sufferings, and for a moment there came a ray of hope. He again began to think of the vermiform appendix and the possibility of correcting it. He received the sacrament with tears in his eyes.
Когда его уложили после причастия, ему стало на минуту легко, и опять явилась надежда на жизнь. Он стал думать об операции, которую предлагали ему. “Жить, жить хочу”, – говорил он себе. Жена пришла поздравить; она сказала обычные слова[6] и прибавила:
When they laid him down again afterwards he felt a moment’s ease, and the hope that he might live awoke in him again. He began to think of the operation that had been suggested to him. “To live! I want to live!” he said to himself. His wife came in to congratulate him after his communion, and when uttering the usual conventional words[6] she added:
– Не правда ли, тебе лучше?
“You feel better, don’t you?”
Он, не глядя на нее, проговорил: да.
Without looking at her he said “Yes.”
Ее одежда, ее сложение, выражение ее лица, звук ее голоса – все сказало ему одно: “Не то. Все то, чем ты жил и живешь, – есть ложь, обман, скрывающий от тебя жизнь и смерть”. И как только он подумал это, поднялась его ненависть и вместе с ненавистью физические мучительные страдания и с страданиями сознание неизбежной, близкой погибели. Что-то сделалось новое: стало винтить, и стрелять, и сдавливать дыхание.[7]
Her dress, her figure, the expression of her face, the tone of her voice, all revealed the same thing. “This is wrong, it is not as it should be. All you have lived for and still live for is falsehood and deception, hiding life and death from you.” And as soon as he admitted that thought, his hatred and his agonizing physical suffering again sprang up, and with that suffering a consciousness of the unavoidable, approaching end. And to this was added a new sensation of grinding shooting pain and a feeling of suffocation.[7]
Выражение лица его, когда он проговорил “да”, было ужасно. Проговорив это “да”, глядя ей прямо в лицо, он необычайно для своей слабости быстро повернулся ничком и закричал:
The expression of his face when he uttered that “Yes” was dreadful. Having uttered it, he looked her straight in the eyes, turned on his face with a rapidity extraordinary in his weak state and shouted:
– Уйдите, уйдите, оставьте меня!
“Go away! Go away and leave me alone!”

  1. The tone of Liza's remarks here is the conventional one adopted by people who feel wounded by misdirected anger or blame: "Well, how is it OUR fault? He acts as though WE did this to him!" As so often, however, under the conventional and obvious meaning of the text is hidden the possibility of a more genuine, direct, and specific significance: "How ARE we to blame? It's we OURSELVES who have done this!" This makes the passage resonate, if subtly and obliquely, with Ivan Ilich's own reflections about whether he may have lived his life wrongly and his attitude of offended disbelief that such an incredible possibility might even be suggested.
  2. Again a reprise of the question that has so troubled Ivan Ilich, and the suggestion that the answer may be the same: that we have lived wrongly.
  3. The grammar of this sentence is that which would be used to say that a lawyer is defending an accused client before the court; Ivan Ilich is portrayed as being both lawyer and judge in the most important case he has ever heard: his own life is on trial. He himself is now in the position that we as readers have been in ever since our judicial guide, Peter Ivanovich, abandoned us to go play bridge after the funeral service at the end of Chapter One.
  4. The Russian makes quite clear Ivan Ilich's personal responsibility for the fact that his life was "wrong" (Russ. "ne to"). Maude's translation: "I've lost all that was given to me" is more accurately rendered as "I ruined (Russ. "pogubil") everything that was given to me." the funeral service at the end of Chapter One.
  5. Which is as much as to say that the "life" he has led is indistinguishable from death.
  6. The usual words are "Pozdravljaju s prichastiem!" ("(I) congratulate (you) on communing (i.e., on having received the sacrament).
  7. One of the sensations of this new dimension of Ivan Ilich's pain is described as "screwing into him," expressed by the verb "vintit'" (from the word "vint" [Eng., "screw"]). The reader cannot fail to notice the bitter irony in the fact that this same verb means "to play vint," the card game of which Ivan Ilich has been so fond. His life as he has lived it is the ultimate source of his pain and is, in fact, not life at all, but a form of death.