With 53 ratings
By: Leo Tolstoy
Purchased At: $3.50
One of the world's greatest novelists, Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) also wrote numerous excellent short stories, three of which are contained in this volume. "The Kreutzer Sonata" (1891) is a penetrating study of jealousy as well as a splenetic complaint about the way in which society educates young men and women in matters of sex. In "The Death of Ivan Ilych" (1886), a symbolic Everyman discovers the inner light of faith and love only when confronted by death. "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" (1886) is a simple, didactic story of peasant life, written by Tolstoy in the wake of a spiritual crisis. All three tales offer readers a splendid introduction to Tolstoy's work as well as the focused delights of the short story form brought to a pinnacle in the hands of a master.
This edition contains three short stories that were written after Tolstoy made his conversion to intense Christian beliefs. They are interesting to read together, particularly given the common theme about characters with mistaken ideas about what will bring them contentment.
"How Much Land Does a Man Need?" is a parable which examines greed and contentment through the story of a peasant who believes that he would be satisfied with his life if only he had a little bit more land.
"The Death of Ivan Ilych" tells the history of an outwardly prosperous but spiritually empty man who dies at the age of 45 after a fall in his home.
In "The Kreutzer Sonata" a man on a train relates to a fellow passenger what the circumstances were that led to the murder of his wife.
It is, at the very least, important to read these stories. The Kreutzer Sonata is particularly important in the history of literature. At its release, it was banned throughout much of Europe for indecency and has been inspiring debate about feminist issues and women characters in literature ever since that time.
The translation used in the Dover Thrift edition is competent, but has its awkward moments and is occasionally clunky and obtuse. I might personally recommend buying a different edition if you are planning a purchase.