The Portable Tolstoy

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The greatest of Russian novelists believed that "whatever the artist depicts - saints, robbers, kings, or lackeys - we seek and see only the artist's own soul" The soul that shines through the work of Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910) is a vast and contradictory thing. It generates the narrative floodtides of War and Peace and Anna Karenina and short stories so intimate that we seem to inhabit their characters rather than just observe them. Tolstoy's soul is that of a consummate artist who despises artfulness ...
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Overview

The greatest of Russian novelists believed that "whatever the artist depicts - saints, robbers, kings, or lackeys - we seek and see only the artist's own soul" The soul that shines through the work of Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910) is a vast and contradictory thing. It generates the narrative floodtides of War and Peace and Anna Karenina and short stories so intimate that we seem to inhabit their characters rather than just observe them. Tolstoy's soul is that of a consummate artist who despises artfulness and seeks to approximate the disorder of life, of a sensualist who aspires to sainthood, of an aristocrat who identifies fiercely with the small and humble.

All the aspects of Tolstoy's work and character are on display in this masterful anthology. The Portable Tolstoy includes a complete short novel, The Kreutzer Sonata; passages from the author's fictional memoirs of his childhood, youth and military life; excerpts from The Cossacks; The short stories "The Wood-Felling,""Master and Man," and "How Much Land Does a Man Need?"; the play"The Power of Darkness"; selections from such philosophic, social and critical writings as "A Confession" and "What Is Art?"; and a chronology, bibliography and cirtical introduction by the renowned scholar John Bayley. The result is a splendid and authoritative volume of work by a writer whose moral vision, narrative powers, and stylistic range all but defy containment.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140150919
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/1978
  • Series: Viking Portable Library Series
  • Pages: 888
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 7.74 (h) x 1.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Leo Tolstoy
One of the great masters of the 19th-century novel, Tolstoy created a sweeping epic in War and Peace which folds together huge events in history and politics with the emotional lives of individuals. But it was his deeply spiritual outlook that made him an icon.

Biography

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 traveling 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;" he died some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Books LTD.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 9, 1828
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tula Province, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      November 20, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Astapovo, Russia

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