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Divine and Human and Other Stories (European Classics) [Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy , Gordon Spence

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Book Description

1 April 2000 European Classics
Tolstoy's last major work, "A Calendar of Wisdom", is a collection of spiritual and philosophical quotations in the form of daily readings. Each week, he included a story for Sunday, and this text represents a collection of the Sunday readings. The stories show a personal side to Tolstoy's work.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press (1 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810117622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810117624
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.1 x 1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,087,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before travelling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879-82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home 'leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude'; dying some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolstoy Manages to Shine Through a Careless Translation 4 Mar 2001
By K.E. Culbertson - Published on Amazon.com
Tolstoy, a writer of such undeniable power, proves perhaps by the most extreme scenario that he is not overrated as a transcendant writer: namely, this book is still vital despite a horribly mangled translation by Gordon Spence. Here's one example of the needless contortions Spence plays with Russian/English: "But what he understood now by him to whom he appealed was something he knew to be the most real of everything he knew." Another gem: ". . .and in the same week he drank not only all the money that he had received for the execution, but also all his relatively expensive clothes. . ." Whaat? How does one drink expensive clothes? Yet another: "With the devoted old nurse. . .she sat in her father's closed sleigh, which had been newly repaired for the long journey, and set out on the long journey." Come on. How about ". . .newly repaired for the long journey, and set out."? Yet to read the story "Divine and Human" is a seminal experience nonetheless. Amazing, Tolstoy has to be a titan to shine through this, yet he does.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stories 19 May 2001
By Plinio - Published on Amazon.com
The book contains some short stories; one of them is titled "Divine and Human". The content of the stories varies: some of them are fables with a happy ending others, as for instance "Divine and Human", are stories with bleak atmospheres resembling the ones present in "The Death of Ivan Ilich" or in "Resurrection. The author, anyhow, always deploys a positive message of hope. The author clearly depicts last century Russian peasant's poor conditions of life. These very miserable life styles are the base for the author's reflections and considerations about the morally correct behaviour that rich people should hold in order to be useful to others and to be happier themselves.
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