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

Chapter 9

Поздно ночью вернулась жена. Она вошла на цыпочках, но он услыхал ее: открыл глаза и поспешно закрыл опять. Она хотела услать Герасима и сама сидеть с ним. Он открыл глаза и сказал:
His wife returned late at night. She came in on tiptoe, but he heard her, opened his eyes, and made haste to close them again. She wished to send Gerasim away and to sit with him herself, but he opened his eyes and said:
– Нет. Иди.
“No, go away.”
– Ты очень страдаешь?
“Are you in great pain?”
– Все равно.
“Always the same.”
– Прими опиума.
“Take some opium.”
Он согласился и выпил. Она ушла.
He agreed and took some. She went away.
Часов до трех он был в мучительном забытьи. Ему казалось, что его с болью суют куда-то в узкий черный мешок и глубокий, и все дальше просовывают, и не могут просунуть.[1] И это ужасное для него дело совершается с страданием. И он и боится, и хочет провалиться туда, и борется, и помогает. И вот вдруг он оборвался и упал, и очнулся. Все тот же Герасим сидит в ногах на постели, дремлет спокойно, терпеливо. А он лежит, подняв ему на плечи исхудалые ноги в чулках; свеча та же с абажуром, и та же непрекращающаяся боль.
Till about three in the morning he was in a state of stupefied misery. It seemed to him that he and his pain were being thrust into a narrow, deep black sack, but though they were pushed further and further in they could not be pushed to the bottom.[1] And this, terrible enough in itself, was accompanied by suffering. He was frightened yet wanted to fall through the sack, he struggled but yet co-operated. And suddenly he broke through, fell, and regained consciousness. Gerasim was sitting at the foot of the bed dozing quietly and patiently, while he himself lay with his emaciated stockinged legs resting on Gerasim’s shoulders; the same shaded candle was there and the same unceasing pain.
– Уйди, Герасим, – прошептал он.
“Go away, Gerasim,” he whispered.
– Ничего, посижу-с.
“It’s all right, sir. I’ll stay a while.”
– Нет. Уйди.
“No. Go away.”
Он снял ноги, лег боком на руку, и ему стало жалко себя. Он подождал только того, чтоб Герасим вышел в соседнюю комнату, и не стал больше удерживаться и заплакал, как дитя. Он плакал о беспомощности своей, о своем ужасном одиночестве, о жестокости людей, о жестокости Бога, об отсутствии Бога. “Зачем ты все это сделал? Зачем привел меня сюда? За что, за что так ужасно мучаешь меня?..”[2] Он и не ждал ответа и плакал о том, что нет и не может быть ответа. Боль поднялась опять, но он не шевелился, не звал. Он говорил себе: “Ну еще, ну бей! Но за что? Что я сделал тебе, за что?”[3]
He removed his legs from Gerasim’s shoulders, turned sideways onto his arm, and felt sorry for himself. He only waited till Gerasim had gone into the next room and then restrained himself no longer but wept like a child. He wept on account of his helplessness, his terrible loneliness, the cruelty of man, the cruelty of God, and the absence of God. “Why hast Thou done all this? Why hast Thou brought me here? Why, why dost Thou torment me so terribly?”[2] He did not expect an answer and yet wept because there was no answer and could be none. The pain again grew more acute, but he did not stir and did not call. He said to himself: “Go on! Strike me! But what is it for? What have I done to Thee? What is it for?”[3]
Потом он затих, перестал не только плакать, перестал дышать и весь стал внимание: как будто он прислушивался не к голосу, говорящему звуками, но к голосу души, к ходу мыслей, поднимавшемуся в нем.[4]
Then he grew quiet and not only ceased weeping but even held his breath and became all attention. It was as though he were listening not to an audible voice but to the voice of his soul, to the current of thoughts arising within him.[4]
– Чего тебе нужно? – было первое ясное, могущее быть выражено словами понятие, которое, он услышал. – Что тебе нужно? Чего тебе нужно? – повторил он себе. – Чего? – Не страдать. Жить, – ответил он.
“What is it you want?” was the first clear conception capable of expression in words, that he heard. “What do you want? What do you want?” he repeated to himself. “What do I want? To live and not to suffer,” he answered.
И опять он весь предался вниманию такому напряженному, что даже боль не развлекала его.
And again he listened with such concentrated attention that even his pain did not distract him.
– Жить? Как жить? – спросил голос души.
“To live? How?” asked his inner voice.
– Да, жить, как я жил прежде: хорошо, приятно.
“Why, to live as I used to — well and pleasantly.”
– Как ты жил прежде, хорошо и приятно? – спросил голос. И он стал перебирать в воображении лучшие минуты своей приятной жизни. Но – странное дело – все эти лучшие минуты приятной жизни казались теперь совсем не тем, чем казались они тогда. Все – кроме первых воспоминаний детства. Там, в детстве, было что-то такое действительно приятное, с чем можно бы было жить, если бы оно вернулось. Но того человека, который испытывал это приятное, уже не было: это было как бы воспоминание о каком-то другом.
“As you lived before, well and pleasantly?” the voice repeated. And in imagination he began to recall the best moments of his pleasant life. But strange to say none of those best moments of his pleasant life now seemed at all what they had then seemed — none of them except the first recollections of childhood. There, in childhood, there had been something really pleasant with which it would be possible to live if it could return. But the child who had experienced that happiness existed no longer, it was like a reminiscence of somebody else.
Как только начиналось то, чего результатом был теперешний он, Иван Ильич, так все казавшиеся тогда радости теперь на глазах его таяли и превращались во что-то ничтожное и часто гадкое.
As soon as the period began which had produced the present Ivan Ilych, all that had then seemed joys now melted before his sight and turned into something trivial and often nasty.
И чем дальше от детства, чем ближе к настоящему, тем ничтожнее и сомнительнее были радости. Начиналось это с Правоведения. Там было еще кое-что истинно хорошее: там было веселье, там была дружба, там были надежды. Но в высших классах уже были реже эти хорошие минуты. Потом, во время первой службы у губернатора, опять появились хорошие минуты: это были воспоминания о любви к женщине. Потом все это смещалось, и еще меньше стало хорошего. Далее еще меньше хорошего, и что дальше, то меньше.
And the further he departed from childhood and the nearer he came to the present the more worthless and doubtful were the joys. This began with the School of Law. A little that was really good was still found there — there was light-heartedness, friendship, and hope. But in the upper classes there had already been fewer of such good moments. Then during the first years of his official career, when he was in the service of the governor, some pleasant moments again occurred: they were the memories of love for a woman. Then all became confused and there was still less of what was good; later on again there was still less that was good, and the further he went the less there was.
Женитьба… так нечаянно, и разочарование, и запах изо рта жены, и чувственность, притворство! И эта мертвая служба, эти заботы о деньгах, итак год, и два, и десять, и двадцать – и все то же. И что дальше, то мертвое. Точно равномерно я шел под гору, воображая, что иду на гору. Так и было. В общественном мнении я шел на гору, и ровно настолько из-под меня уходила жизнь… И вот готово, умирай!
His marriage, a mere accident, then the disenchantment that followed it, his wife’s bad breath and the sensuality and hypocrisy: then that deadly official life and those preoccupations about money, a year of it, and two, and ten, and twenty, and always the same thing. And the longer it lasted the more deadly it became. “It is as if I had been going downhill while I imagined I was going up. And that is really what it was. I was going up in public opinion, but to the same extent life was ebbing away from me. And now it is all done and there is only death.
Так что ж это? Зачем? Не может быть. Не может быть, чтоб так бессмысленна, гадка была жизнь? А если точно она так гадка и бессмысленна была, так зачем же умирать, и умирать страдая? Что-нибудь не так.
“Then what does it mean? Why? It can’t be that life is so senseless and horrible. But if it really has been so horrible and senseless, why must I die and die in agony? There is something wrong!
“Может быть, я жил не так, как должно?” – приходило ему вдруг в голову. “Но как же не так, когда я делал все как следует?”[5] – говорил он себе и тотчас же отгонял от себя это единственное разрешение всей загадки жизни и смерти, как что-то совершенно невозможное.
“Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done,” it suddenly occurred to him. “But how could that be, when I did everything properly?”[5] he replied, and immediately dismissed from his mind this, the sole solution of all the riddles of life and death, as something quite impossible.
“Чего ж ты хочешь теперь? Жить? Как жить? Жить, как ты живешь в суде, когда судебный пристав провозглашает: “Суд идет!..” Суд идет, идет суд, – повторил он себе. – Вот он, суд![6] Да я же не виноват! – вскрикнул он с злобой. – За что?” И он перестал плакать и, повернувшись лицом к стене, стал думать все об одном и том же: зачем, за что весь этот ужас?
“Then what do you want now? To live? Live how? Live as you lived in the law courts when the usher proclaimed ‘The judge is coming!’ The judge is coming, the judge!” he repeated to himself. “Here he is, the judge.[6] But I am not guilty!” he exclaimed angrily. “What is it for?” And he ceased crying, but turning his face to the wall continued to ponder on the same question: Why, and for what purpose, is there all this horror?
Но сколько он ни думал, он не нашел ответа. И когда ему приходила, как она приходила ему часто, мысль о том, что все это происходит оттого, что он жил не так, он тотчас вспоминал всю правильность своей жизни и отгонял эту странную мысль.
But however much he pondered he found no answer. And whenever the thought occurred to him, as it often did, that it all resulted from his not having lived as he ought to have done, he at once recalled the correctness of his whole life and dismissed so strange an idea.

  1. This is the first mention of the image of a narrow, black sack or bag or hole into which Ivan Ilich feels himself being pushed. The image has played an important role in interpretations of the novel which emphasize that Ivan Ilich, led by his sufferings, becomes spiritually reborn as his physical life ebbs away. The black bag, by its shape and its color and the fact that when, in chapter twelve, Ivan Ilich feels that he has broken through the end of the bag into the light, has been seen as an effective symbol of the birth canal. Likewise, the trauma of birth seems well matched with the trauma of Ivan Ilich's suffering and death. This interpretation, of course, fits very well with the concept that the novel privileges the method of "understanding in reverse." It seems quite natural in this context that the image of death should be tautologous with an image of life and also that Ivan Ilich's attitude toward this image should be ambiguous: "he struggled, yet co-operated."
  2. Here is another allusion to the narrative of Christ's Passion as contained in the Gospels, specifically to Jesus' outcry "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46 inter alia).
  3. Here, as in the preceding sentence, Ivan Ilich uses the form of the pronoun "you" which is employed when speaking to very close friends and family members, and also, not incidentally, when speaking to God in prayer. "What did I to you" might well be rendered (as the Maude translation does) "What have I done to Thee"?
  4. Here is the first explicit indication that Ivan Ilich does indeed have a soul, that he is more than the physiological being which is suffering so dreadfully from the effects of disease. We remember that in Chapter Five his "inner life" was still completely a question of the physical organs located within his body. Here the inner life and voice represents a qualitatively different kind of life. Ivan Ilich's attention has finally been redirected from his physical life and sufferings to his spiritual life and sufferings. We note that since chapter seven it has seemed to him that his spiritual suffering has in fact been greater than his physical pain. At the end of Chapter Nine the thought occurs to him that "Maybe I didn't live as I ought to have done," that is, that he is where he is by his own actions and responsibility. This thought, and the conclusion arising from it, is repeated yet again in each of the three remaining chapters.
  5. "Sleduet" is a form of the verb "sledovat'" ("to follow"). It is used here in its conventional sense as an impersonal synonym of the personal construction of necessity, "dolzhen + infinitive, in the meaning "as I was supposed to," "as I should have." But the expression also suggests its literal sense of "following." Ivan Ilich is confident that his life could not have been "ne tak" (lit., "not so" but often suggesting "wrong, improper") because he has always behaved as he has in emulation of, following in the footsteps of, his betters and peers in society.
  6. The word "sud" can mean "court" in the sense of the official(s) charged with superintending a trial and it can also mean the trial itself or the result of the trial, the judgement that is rendered by the court. This latter meaning is exemplified in the Russian religious phrase "Strashnyj sud," what in English is called "the Last Judgement" or "Judgement Day."