The Danish medium Einer Nielsen was investigated by a committee from the Kristiania University in Norway, 1922 and discovered in a séance that his ectoplasm was fake. In 1923 the Polish medium Jan Guzyk was exposed as a fraud in a series of séances in Sorbonne in Paris. Guzyk would use his elbows and legs to move objects around the room and touch the sitters. According to Max Dessoir the trick of Guzyk was to use his "foot for psychic touches and sounds".
This powerful novella is a classic of both existentialist and spiritual literature. One day Ivan Ilyich (the Russian name for "John Doe"), a moderately successful lawyer and minor judge, learns that due to a small injury, he is quickly dying. He has never thought about this possibility, and it tears away all the structure of his life and the values and assumptions which have supported him. This is why the existentialists revere this novel: It shows man stripped of all certainties, helpless and alone in a world he can't know. But Tolstoy doesn't stop there. He knows that this forlorn state is exactly the precondition for seeing deeply, and he shows how Ivan Ilyich, through the devotion and faith of his peasant servant, finds his way to a renewed faith in his fellow people, and to a vision in which death is superseded by spiritual awakening. Because Tolstoy has presented the shock of Ivan's sudden despair so vividly, we find Ivan's victory over his despair all the more heartfelt and moving.