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 >