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The Cossacks and Other Stories : Stories of Sevastopol; The Cossacks; Hadji Murat - Leo Tolstoy

The Cossacks and Other Stories

Stories of Sevastopol; The Cossacks; Hadji Murat

Paperback

Published: October 2006
For Ages: 18+ years old
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In 1851, at the age of twenty-two, Tolstoy joined the Russian army and travelled to the Caucasus as a soldier. The four years that followed were among the most significant in his life, and deeply influenced the stories collected here. Begun in 1852 but unfinished for a decade, The Cossacks describes the experiences of Olenin, a young cultured Russian who comes to despise civilization after spending time with the wild Cossack people. Sevastopol Sketches, based on Tolstoy's own experiences of the siege of Sevastopol in 1854-55, is a compelling consideration of the nature of war, while Hadji Murat, written towards the end of his life, returns to the Caucasus of Tolstoy's youth to explore the life of a great leader torn apart by a conflict of loyalties. Written at the end of the nineteenth century, it is amongst the last and greatest of Tolstoy's shorter works.

About the Author

Leo Tolstoy was born in central Russia in 1828. He studied Oriental languages and law (although failed to earn a degree in the latter) at the University of Kazan, and after a dissolute youth eventually joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851. He took part in the Crimean War, and the Sebastopol Sketches that emerged from it established his reputation. After living for some time in St Petersburg and abroad, he married Sophie Behrs in 1862 and they had thirteen children. The happiness this brought him gave him the creative impulse for his two greatest novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). Later in life his views became increasingly radical as he gave up his possessions to live a simple peasant life. After a quarrel with his wife he fled home secretly one night to seek refuge in a monastery. He became ill during this dramatic flight and died at the small railway station of Astapovo in 1910.

Leo Tolstoy

Russian author, a master of realistic fiction and one of the world's greatest novelists.

Tolstoy is best known for his two longest works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which are commonly regarded as among the finest novels ever written. War and Peace in particular seems virtually to define this form for many readers and critics. Among Tolstoy's shorter works, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is usually classed among the best examples of the novella. Especially during his last three decades Tolstoy also achieved world renown as a moral and religious teacher. His doctrine of nonresistance to evil had an important influence on Gandhi. Although Tolstoy's religious ideas no longer command the respect they once did, interest in his life and personality has, if anything, increased over the years.

Most readers will agree with the assessment of the 19th-century British poet and critic Matthew Arnold that a novel by Tolstoy is not a work of art but a piece of life; the 20th-century Russian author Isaak Babel commented that, if the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy. Critics of diverse schools have agreed that somehow Tolstoy's works seem to elude all artifice. Most have stressed his ability to observe the smallest changes of consciousness and to record the slightest movements of the body. What another novelist would describe as a single act of consciousness, Tolstoy convincingly breaks down into a series of infinitesimally small steps. According to the English writer Virginia Woolf, who took for granted that Tolstoy was “the greatest of all novelists,” these observational powers elicited a kind of fear in readers, who “wish to escape from the gaze which Tolstoy fixes on us.”

Those who visited Tolstoy as an old man also reported feelings of great discomfort when he appeared to understand their unspoken thoughts. It was commonplace to describe him as godlike in his powers and titanic in his struggles to escape the limitations of the human condition. Some viewed Tolstoy as the embodiment of nature and pure vitality, others saw him as the incarnation of the world's conscience, but for almost all who knew him or read his works, he was not just one of the greatest writers who ever lived but a living symbol of the search for life's meaning.

Visit Leo Tolstoy's Booktopia Author Page


ISBN: 9780140449594
ISBN-10: 0140449590
Series: Penguin Classics
Audience: General
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 528
Published: October 2006
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9  x 2.3
Weight (kg): 19.8
Edition Number: 1