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About the Author
A Russian author of novels, short stories, plays, and philosophical essays, Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was born into an aristocratic family and is best known for the epic books War and Peace and Anna Karenina, regarded as two of the greatest works of Russian literature. After serving in the Crimean War, Tolstoy retired to his estate and devoted himself to writing, farming, and raising his large family. His novels and outspoken social polemics brought him world-wide fame.
Date of Birth:September 9, 1828
Date of Death:November 20, 1910
Place of Birth:Tula Province, Russia
Place of Death:Astapovo, Russia
Education:Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Leo Tolstoy. Edited by Andrew Barger. Leo Tolstoy's 20 Greatest Short Stories. Bottletree, 2009. 389 pp. $15.98.The book is arranged first with a 30-page biography of Tolstoy, followed by 20 short stories and concludes with a 5-page ordering of Tolstoy's complete works in chronological order and categorized by genre. The book is sprinkled with illustrations, some awkwardly placed.The stories are not all equally fantastic, but they are definitely worth reading. The plots and characters are engaging. For example, Tolstoy is capable of making you cheer for and loathe over the talent-squandering Albert. Likewise, the reader anticipates the fate of Pakhom while laughing at this pathetic character. Yet, who cannot identify with him? Thus, the genius of the story-telling. The reader is subtly brought into self-examination!The compilation is riddled with translation barriers. For example, the opening page of story neglects to inform the reader of what a 'prikashchik' happens to be in its first appearance. At the bottom of the same paragraph the word is used for a second time where it is then defined in a footnote. Why not just translate the word? (later in the same story, page 46, overseer is used in the text with 'prikashchik' in the footnote). Such footnoting is par for the course and slows the reading and impedes the enjoyment of reading short stories. Page 124 is a good example of how tedious the footnoting can be. In short, I would prefer the text to read '54 acres' instead of 'twenty desyatins.' There were many times I felt the point of this translation style was an education in the Russian language or at least an attempt at Russian appreciation. For this reason, I have given the book a mere three stars.However, I am deeply grateful for Andrew Barger's latest book. I had always wanted to read Tolstoy and never had until this book came into my possession. I believe Tolstoy should be more widely read and will be, in part, due to this work. I will be sure to share my copy and encourage others to purchase Barger's volume.Thankfully,A. Ramey
Tolstoy's short stories transcend both time and culture. Enlightened by Barger's annotations, this collection is an engaging representation of Tolstoy's masterful storytelling. Though set in a far away time and place, the moral and life lessons revealed in each story offer the reader a glimpse into Tolstoy's own life, and are arguably just as relevant today. Lastly, though Barger chose to retain numerous non-translated words and references throughout the collection, they add to the authenticity of both story and writer rather than detract from understanding.