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The Cossacks and Other Stories (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 19, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Tolstoy explores the dissatisfaction a young Russian aristocrat holds towards the emptiness of high-society, and his subsequent journey in search of meaning. The aristocrat finds himself as a young Russian army officer, serving at a remote Cossack outpost in the Caucasus. Here he finds that his wealth and breeding do not garner him respect. Instead he is looked upon as an outsider, and an unwelcome one at that.
Nevertheless, the aristocrat finds himself in love with a beautiful Cossack girl, who is promised to a Cossack warrior. Tolstoy discusses the emotions that rise between these three parties regarding love, class, and sacrifice.
Indeed, The Cossacks is great first exposure to Leo Tolstoy and his descriptive writing style is sure to lead the reader to explore more of his works.
Leo Tolstoy's _The Cossacks_ (begun in 1852 and published in 1862) is about a young aristocrat's quest for happiness and his uncertainty about what will make him happy--whether a life given up to the senses or a life devoted to others. The novel begins with a late night discussion in a Moscow alehouse about Olenin's relationship with a wealthy Moscow woman whom he is about to abandon. One of his friends responds, "You have not yet loved, and you don't know what love is!" Dmitri bids his friends adieu and sets out by carriage for a military assignment in the faraway Caucasus to start life anew and to find out what love means (ironically, while serving as a military cadet in a war).
The novel contrasts Dmitri Olenin with Lukashka the Snatcher, a young fearless Cossack soldier admired by everyone in his village. While Dmitri's life lacks purpose and direction, Lukashka is driven to become an ideal Cossack warrior. Lukashka is a carouser who is a brave fighter. Dmitri envies Lukashka's life and, in particular, the defined Cossack traditions to which Lukashka devotes himself.Read more ›
The stories are:
The Cossacks: In this semi-autobiographical story a young Moscow nobleman joins the army. He is posted to the distant Caucasus where he becomes friends with people living in a Cossack village. He is infatuated with a Cossack beauty and is involved in a romantic triangle. Olenin meets and befriends an old Cossack who imparts wisdom and the customs of his people to Olenin. The story is filled with information on the customs and lifestyles of the Cossacks. It also includes beautiful descriptions of nature and ponderings on life by Olenin. The Cossacks of Tsarist Russia were a strong,proud and fierce people who loved to drink, love and fight across the vast stretches of the steppes. When Olenin leaves the Cossacks he has grown in maturity.
Sevastopol Sketches is a story concerning the siege of that Crimean City by the French, English and Turks during the Crimean War of the 1850s. Tolstoy was himself present during the siege. The Russians were defeated. We experience in these pages the experience of bombardment, instant death from shells and see the horrific condition of the wounded. The lives and deaths of two brothers are described. This story provides excitement and shows Tolstoy's ability to draw characters and scenes with superb skill. There are three sketches which show us what it is like to be in a beseiged city during war. Tolstoy became a pacificist. This short work shows us the horror of warfare.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was one of Tolstoys earlier works that made him famous before the publication of his two masterpieces. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Travis Godbold
Marred only by an obtuse introduction by Cynthia Ozick that blames Tolstoy for not being Isaac Babel. Here's the place to start before tackling those large, loose, baggy monsters.Published 9 months ago by Chadwick Henley Essex
These are not the best novels by Tolstoy, like the masterpieces of his maturity, but they are very good, like everything he wrote except the religious stuff and Resurrection. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Ferdinando Cortese
The Cossacks and Hadji Murat are included in Works of Leo Tolstoy available in Kindle. Sevastopol Stories is not, and this is the only reason to buy this book. Read morePublished 17 months ago by H. O. Fattorini
A pleasure to read Tolstoy in this 'shorter' fiction novel depicting Cossacks life. I enjoyed the historical reference and Tolstoy's explicit description of Cossack territory;... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Gene Brosius
It is a good read, and as with penguin classics the notes help those who are unfamiliar with the history. Recommended. Price is good too.Published 22 months ago by hdgriller
Tolstoy's COSSACK is another fascinating story where purpose is found in the atmosphere of war. This goes for the jaded Olenin, an heir to a fortune that he had half squandered... Read morePublished on January 19, 2014 by John T C