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

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 380,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not too many typos....but NO table of contents.....so you can't select a story you just have to plod through the book in order. You also have no idea how afar through each story you are...and some a very long (for short stories...but then this is Tolstoy). It's really not good enough, sorry.
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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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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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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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Very powerful writing. Excellent. Print quality could be better.
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