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The Cossacks Hardcover – May, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: North Books (May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582879184
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582879185
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leo Tolstoy was a Russian novelist and moral philosopher noted for his ideas of nonviolent resistance. His diary reveals an incessant pursuit of a morally justified life. He was known for his generosity to the peasants.
His best known novels are 'War and Peace' (1869), which Tolstoy regarded as an epic rather than a novel, and 'Anna Karenina' (1877). His work was admired in his time by Dostoyevsky, Checkov, Turgenev, and Flaubert, and later by Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This story provides excitement and shows Tolstoy's ability to draw characters and scenes with superb skill.
C. M Mills
Cynthia Ozick's introduction provides useful historical background information and challenges Tolstoy's romanticized depiction of Cossack society.
vabookreader
It sounds just like him, and he says in A Moveable Feast that he was reading lots of Russian stuff at the start of his career.
N. DePlume

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Matthew P. Arsenault on November 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tolstoy is one of the most famous names in Russian literature. Sadly, the sheer size of most of his celebrated works, i.e. War and Peace, tend to make many readers anxious. However, readers fail to realize that Tolstoy has quite a phenomenal collection of short fiction, such as this 178-page novella.
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.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By vabookreader on July 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In the middle of _The Cossacks_, Dmitri Olenin, a young Russian cadet reflects joyfully, "Happiness is to live for others. How clear it is!," while being mercilessly bitten by mosquitos during a deer hunt. Despite the fact that his "whole body [is] consumed by a consuming itch," Olenin revels in the beauties of bountiful nature. It is almost as if he gives himself up to the mosquitos, whom he imagines are yelling out to each other, "Over here, boys! Here's someone we can devour!" Tolstoy develops the scene with such skill. We see Olenin's joy quickly turn into confusion and mortal terror.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) is one of the world's greatest novelist producing such classics as "War and Peace"; "Anna Karenina" and "Resurrection." He was also a master of the novella and short story. Penguin has collected three of these shorter works in a handsomely published new paperback.
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.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By N. DePlume on August 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Here's a book that not many people know about which should be read by all. It was really just what I needed to read, having just dropped out of university myself. Also, does anyone else think that this book must have greatly influenced Hemingway? It sounds just like him, and he says in A Moveable Feast that he was reading lots of Russian stuff at the start of his career. I realize it might just be that the translator liked Hemingway, but even so it's amazing how much it ends up reading like one of his novels and is so unlike the rest of Tolstoy.
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