"Nikolai Leskov is one of the greatest and most popular of the wonderful group of Russian storytellers who flourished in the nineteenth century" (New York Times Book Review)
"Serious criticism ignored him but his tales succeeded instantly with the public... No-one catches so truthfully the diversity of national character of his time. His variety is astonishing... Leskov has both feet in life" (V.S. Pritchett)
"On Lady Macbbeth of Mtensk: 'Short, sharp and shocking novel...It is a strikingly modern work, a sort of souped-up Madame Bovary in which the anti-heroine, the bored provincial housewife Katerina Lvovna Izmailova, is gripped by an excessive passion for a seductive farmhand. She's hardboiled as any Chandler dame as her ardour for her low-born lover takes her down a jet-black road of cruelty and murder'" (Sunday Telegraph)
"Nikolai Leskov fully deserves the privilege of standing in line with such makers of Russian literature as Tolstoi, Gogol, Turgenev and Goncharov. In power and beauty, Leskov's talent cedes only a little to the talent of any one of these men I have named - the creators of the Holy Bible of the Russian land - but in breadth of exposition, in depth of understanding of life's riddles, and in knowledge of the Russian language, he very often surpasses his predecessors and fellow writers" (Maxim Gorky)
From the Inside Flap
Leskov is the greatest Russian writer that most of us have never heard of. But without Leskov there would be no Bulgakov, no Chekhov - his stories exploded the traditions of nineteenth-century Russian fiction. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's stunning translation brings Leskov's exuberant voice to life.
Bursting with outsized characters from serfs, Gypsy girls and horse dealers to wayward monks, garrulous storytellers and princes, this collection of seventeen stories is Leskov at his innovative and playful best.
'Russians have revered Nikolai Leskov's artistry for over a century, but he is little known in the West because the story-telling voices from deep in the Russian heartland that he skilfully ventriloquizes in his tales are notoriously difficult to translate. Pevear and Volokhonsky's collection of Leskov's best-known works bears all the hallmarks of their previous successes-absolute faithfulness to the author's meaning and manner, ingenious finds and formulations, and fluency in English' Vladimir Alexandrov, B. E. Bensinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University
From the Back Cover
'My favourite writer, the famous Nikolai Leskov' ANTON CHEKHOV
'Leskov is a writer for the future' LEO TOLSTOY
'Stories as strong as fables and crazy as life' ALICE MUNRO
'Surreal, gripping, violent but comic tales' MARGARET ATWOOD
About the Author
Nikolai Leskov was born in 1831 in the village of Gorokhovo in Russia. He began his writing career as a journalist living in Kiev, and later settled in St. Petersburg. He published his first piece of fiction in 1862 inThe Northern Bee, and continued on to write and publish many short stories and novellas, includingThe Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1865),The Sealed Angel (1873),The Enchanted Wanderer (1873), and Lefty (1882). He died in February 1895.
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky have translated works by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Gogol. They were twice awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation prize. They live in Paris.