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.
Series: Penguin Classics
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 528
Published: October 2006
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.36