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Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy (Perennial Classics) Paperback – 5 Aug 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1st Perennial Classics Ed edition (5 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060586974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060586973
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 260,186 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.


Product Description

About the Author

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is the author of War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, and other classics of Russian literature.


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We were in mourning for my mother, who had died in the autumn, and I spent all that winter alone in the country with Katya and Sonya. Read the first page
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 May 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is the perfect introduction to Tolstoy's work. The stories are simple yet brilliant and the emotions and sentiments stired up are still relevant today.For someone interested in Tolsoy's work this is the best starting point before embarking on his longer works.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
Without doubt some of Tolstoy's finest writing and his story telling ablities at their best. Also and excellent introduction to his great novels.
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By Austen on 6 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Classic short stories that every 'educated' person should read sometime in their life, then you will be primed to tackle 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina'.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the most interesting collections of stories I have read in a long time and would recommend it to anyone who is new to Tolstoy or is put off by the sheer length of works like "Anna Karenina" or "War and Peace".

The subjects range from the Russian military campaigns in the Caucasus in the late 19th century when Tolstoy served in the army to provincial scandals and jostling for cushy positions within the Tsarist bureaucracy in Russia itself.

Real characters appear alongside a host of fictional characters from all stations in life. Several of these are obviously based on Tolstoy himself.

My favorite story was Hadji Murad which deals with a problem that remains to this day - how Russia deals with ethnic minorities like the Chechens that want their own freedom.

Hadji Murad is a Moslem warlord who defects to the Russians and tries to get their support in his struggle against a rival Moslem chief who is holding his family hostage.

No-one trusts Murad and the story - involving officers, soldiers, tribesmen and even Tsar Nicholas himself who is mercilessly portrayed as a lecherous non-entity with absolute power whose decisions lead to death and destruction throughout his empire - revolves around how the Russians can deal with this hopeless situation.

In comparison "The Cossacks" gets off to a slow start and reads more like a series of sketches in which Tolstoy describes the scenery, customs and life style of the Cossacks, Tartars and Chechens he finds himself among than a story. Despite this, the ending is dramatic and worth the effort.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Wasser on 2 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
The Death of Ivan Ilych both begins and ends with the death of its title character. In between, the story is told chronologically both backward and forward. At the beginning, his death is announced, his final days of illness and agony discussed, his colleagues and family members introduced, and his funeral accomplished. Time then shifts and there is an outline of the progression of his early years, his education, his early career, his marriage, and the raising of his children. As he graduates from school and leaves his father's house, he is looking forward in time with anticipated success, as indicated when he buys a watch and has the fob inscribed with the Latin phrase, "respice finem" ("look to the end" p. 256). His later major career promotion and its concomitant relocation to a larger house and his care over its furnishing are set forth in greater detail, and the progress is both chronological and up the social ladder, represented concretely by the step-ladder he mounts to hang the curtains in his new house. However, it was that very step up that causes him to slip and bang his hip on a knob, leading to the injury that ultimately kills him. The top of that step-ladder represents the apogee of his success, and is the beginning of his physical decline. The chronology remains forward, as we follow the "progress of his disease." (p. 273 ). Yet for Ivan Ilych, as his illness worsens, time also moves backwards:

Pictures of his past rose before him one after another. They always began with what was nearest in time and then went back to what was most remote--to his childhood--and rested there.

(p. 297). But contrary to what one might expect, the memories of his childhood are not pleasant ones for him.
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