Books by Leo Tolstoy

Count Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) was the author of two of literature’s greatest novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina.


THE GOSPEL IN BRIEF by Leo Tolstoy
NON-FICTION
Released: Feb. 15, 2011

"Fresh translation destined to introduce a new generation to a fuller understanding of Tolstoy's mind."
A new translation of Tolstoy's rewriting of the Christian Gospels, first completed in 1881. Read full book review >
WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 16, 2007

" One can heartily recommend Bromfield's translation to readers new to War and Peace, but for a fuller sense of Tolstoy's comprehensive and commanding artistic mastery, Pevear and Volokhonsky remain unchallenged as the A-team of Russian translators."
If you're a mountain climber, it's still Everest. If you're a baseball player, it's the career home-run record. If you translate from the Russian, sooner or later you'll visit the Colossus: Leo Tolstoy's enormous masterpiece, whose composition absorbed a decade and whose godlike scope embraces "the intertwining of historical events with the private lives of two very different families of the Russian nobility." Read full book review >
WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 4, 2007

" One can heartily recommend Bromfield's translation to readers new to War and Peace, but for a fuller sense of Tolstoy's comprehensive and commanding artistic mastery, Pevear and Volokhonsky remain unchallenged as the A-team of Russian translators."
If you're a mountain climber, it's still Everest. If you're a baseball player, it's the career home-run record. If you translate from the Russian, sooner or later you'll visit the Colossus: Leo Tolstoy's enormous masterpiece, whose composition absorbed a decade and whose godlike scope embraces "the intertwining of historical events with the private lives of two very different families of the Russian nobility." Read full book review >
HOW MUCH LAND DOES A MAN NEED? by Leo Tolstoy
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

A man's greed leads to his downfall in this adaptation of an 1886 short story. Pakhom is a peasant whose wife is happy with life but who himself has an insatiable desire for more and more land. He follows rumors and stories from place to place, enlarging his holdings each time, until he hears that the Bashkirs are practically giving away huge tracts of land. He investigates, to find that for 1,000 rubles, he can claim as much land as he can walk around in a day. Greed keeps him walking until sundown, when he finally reaches his starting point—and falls down dead. It is a sudden end to what has until that point been a fairly sprightly tale about greed and contentment along the lines of the many variants on "The Fisherman and His Wife." The final illustration depicts Pakhom ascending with a host of angels, but it is doubtful that this will do much to soften the text: "Pakhom's servant . . . dug his master a grave—just as long and as wide as Pakhom's body where it lay upon the earth." As an adaptation, the story cuts much from the original that lends it psychological and political depth, notably the involvement of the Devil in Pakhom's lust for land and Pakhom's relationships with various local Communes and landlords. Kiev-based Abesinova's illustrations are humorous and highly detailed, cramming every possible element into richly colored, flat tableaux. Although they are entirely pleasing of themselves, they do little to extend the story of a man who is so driven to own land that he literally walks himself to death. For more psychologically satisfying treatments of the same theme, stick to the aforementioned folktales. There are no translation/abridgment/adaptation credits; however, a biographical note on Tolstoy follows the text. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

"Pevear's informative introduction and numerous helpful explanatory notes help make this the essential Anna Karenina."
The husband-and-wife team who have given us refreshing English versions of Dostoevsky, Gogol, and Chekhov now present their lucid translation of Tolstoy's panoramic tale of adultery and society: a masterwork that may well be the greatest realistic novel ever written. It's a beautifully structured fiction, which contrasts the aristocratic world of two prominent families with the ideal utopian one dreamed by earnest Konstantin Levin (a virtual self-portrait). The characters of the enchanting Anna (a descendant of Flaubert's Emma Bovary and Fontane's Effi Briest, and forerunner of countless later literary heroines), the lover (Vronsky) who proves worthy of her indiscretion, her bloodless husband Karenin and ingenuous epicurean brother Stiva, among many others, are quite literally unforgettable. Perhaps the greatest virtue of this splendid translation is the skill with which it distinguishes the accents of Anna's romantic egoism from the spare narrative clarity with which a vast spectrum of Russian life is vividly portrayed. Read full book review >
PHILIPOK by Leo Tolstoy
by Leo Tolstoy, adapted by Ann Keay Beneduce, illustrated by Gennady Spirin
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

A children's story by the great storyteller, set in the wintry scenes of a Russian village. Philipok wants to go to school so badly that he puts on his hat and starts to follow his big brother right out the door. His mother gently tells him that he is too young and must stay home. Undeterred, he decides to take matters into his own hands and, one morning when no one is looking, sneaks out of the house and heads across the village to school. On the school's doorstep, he loses his nerve, but is shooed in by a passing grown-up. Once inside, he is intimidated by the noise and activity in the room full of children. Challenged, he shows off his knowledge and demonstrates that he (more or less) knows the alphabet. To his utter delight, the teacher declares that Philipok is indeed ready for school and can join the other children in the classroom. Spirin's illustrations are less sophisticated than usual, but that makes this book all the more accessible to younger children. While the palette is subtle, with many browns and grays, there are touches of gold—the church steeple, the boy's hair—and the children's faces are sweet and appealing. No one can paint snow and fur like Spirin, and there are lovely touches of color, including the quilt on the bed and the flowers on the shawls the women wear. The double-paged spread that shows Philipok playing with his colorful toys and book is especially inviting. The language is uninspired and the story slight, but the theme will appeal, especially to those who can't wait to be grown enough to begin the same activities as their older siblings. All will admire Philipok's bravery in traveling alone across the sometimes scary village. Not as substantial a story as Kashtanka, the Chekhov story also illustrated by Spirin, but certainly not without its charms. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
DIVINE AND HUMAN by Leo Tolstoy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 2000

Most of the 16 stories collected herein appear for the first time in English. They were written late in Tolstoy's life, as part of The Sunday Reading Stories accompanying A Calendar of Wisdom, the great novelist's anthology of the thoughts and sayings of other eminent writers and philosophers. This isn't the Tolstoy of War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Virtually all the pieces are heavily moralistic, many (like "The Repentant Sinner" and "The Requirements of Love") cast in the form of parables—whose almost uniform message seems to be "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Yet Tolstoy's matchless gifts for clarity of expression and narrative economy are vividly displayed in the several stories that do create specific situations and credible characters—notably "The Berries," "Why Did It Happen?," the long title story, and the moving "Kornei Vasiliev." Not essential Tolstoy, but in general a welcome English-language addition to one of the world's most remarkable bodies of literary work. Read full book review >