"In the Days of Serfdom" and Other Stories

"In the Days of Serfdom" and Other Stories

"In the Days of Serfdom" and Other Stories

"In the Days of Serfdom" and Other Stories

Synopsis

"In the Days of Serfdom" and Other Stories, originally published in 1911, presents in miniature themes developed in Tolstoy's longer works War and Peace and Anna Karenina. The compelling stories in this collection have largely been ignored by contemporary scholars and teachers because of their general unavailability. Available once again, the stories reveal new thematic and stylisitic dimensions to Tolstoy's oeuvre.

While not all of the stories deal with actual serfdom, they all address the legacy of serfdom, of choicelessness, in Tolstoy's Russia. These stories are also thoroughly modern, concerned as they are with the market economy, changing values, and women's roles in society. Artistically and historically significant, they constitute ethical and spiritual questionings that deal with lives out of control, with characters making sense of the experience of living.

Excerpt

Today, it is not always clear why we should study Leo Tolstoy, a privileged nineteenth-century count who in later life rejected the value of fiction even though he kept on writing it, who lived one way and preached another, a writer most of us can only read in translation. the answer is simple: Tolstoy has much to teach us about nineteenthcentury Russia, about how societies transform themselves, about the impact of war, about intimacy and the human heart, and, of course, about the craft of writing powerful, beautiful, and memorable fiction.

“In the Days of Serfdom’ and Other Stories is an excellent introduction to Tolstoy’s major themes and styles. the collection, originally published in 1911, consists of a novella, “Polikoúshka; or, in the Days of Serfdom,” written in 1863, and five short stories composed in 1905-6. the stories are part of the literary experimentation that was happening in Europe and America at the turn of the twentieth century. Tolstoy experiments with narration, internal monologue, dramatic irony, and sketches; he is . . .

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