Sunday, December 29, 2013

Twenty-Three Tales by Tolstoy

Twenty-Three Tales by Leo Tolstoy

I found this great little book of Tolstoy at work.  It's one of the old Oxford World's Classics titles, back when they were tiny little hardbound volumes (price, 8s. 6d.).  I don't think it exists anymore as an Oxford title--they have probably changed it around quite a bit--but this old book is a collection of 23 short stories or tales.

Many of these stories are moral in tone, and offer a philosophy of life that extolls the Russian peasant way of life.  A simple life working the earth, without wealth or luxury, each producing what he needs, is the ideal here, and many of the tales predict dire consequences to people who get too greedy.  Several are retold folktales, or else folktale-like stories.  Some of them are some of Tolstoy's own favorites, such as God Sees the Truth, But Waits, and A Prisoner in the Caucasus, and were written as teaching stories for children.

The flavor is overwhelmingly moral, pastoral, and pleasant.  They are nice to read.  They are also easy to read and would probably be a good introduction to Tolstoy, unless the reader is turned off by the preaching.  Because honestly it is pretty preachy, but I enjoyed it anyway.  If you read it one story at a time instead of all at once, it would probably be fine.


2 comments:

Amy said...

He certainly idealized the pastoral life in Anna K as well. That one didn't feel preachy to me though, even with its spiritual theme. These weren't aimed a children, were they?

Jean said...

Some of them certainly were--maybe most of them.