From Publishers Weekly
These 16 selections from Tolstoy's final eclectic collection of tales titled The Sunday Reading Stories represent the Russian novelist's turn away from the troubling human condition in Anna Karenina toward a growing preoccupation with moral issues. Some are brief vignettes, like "The Archangel Gabriel," "The Repentant Sinner" and "The Son of a Thief," in which a prospective juror disqualifies himself because he cannot sit in judgment on a thief when his own father committed the same crime. Several of the stories are adaptations--"Stones," from a fable by E. Poselianin; "The Power of Childhood," from Victor Hugo's "The Civil War"; and "Sisters," a poignant retelling of Guy de Maupassant's "In the Port," about a sailor's shore leave at Marseilles. "Divine and Human," set in 1870s Russia at a peak of struggle between the government and revolutionaries, centers around student Anatoly Svetlogub, who is convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government and spends his final days reading the New Testament. With the exception of a few entries, this is the first English translation of these pieces, which were suppressed first by the czarist government and then by the Soviets. Hardly controversial in the eyes of contemporary American readers, these selections are not particularly noteworthy as critiques of either aristocracy or communism, but rather as lovely artifacts that give us further insight into Tolstoy's notions of wisdom and spirituality. Though this book is published by an evangelical house, the fragments of Tolstoyan theology Sekirin has chosen for it are best described as universalist. All in all, it is a delightful addition to any Tolstoy collection or a fine introduction to his work. (May) FYI: Coincidentally, Northwestern University Press is issuing its own translation of three of the stories included in the Zondervan edition, in a volume also titled Divine and Human. "Berries," "What For?" (titled "Why Did It Happen?" in the Zondervan edition) and "Divine and Human" are translated and introduced by Gordon Spence. Spence's introduction stresses the political import and allegory of the tales, all three of which were written around the time of the Russian revolution of 1905. All the royalties from the publication of Northwestern's edition will go to Amnesty International. ($16.95 paper 168p ISBN 0-8101-1762-2; June)
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About the Author
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) wrote two of the great novels of the nineteenth century, War and Peace and Anna Karenina.
Peter Sekirin was born in Russia and holds a Ph.D. in RussiaPeter Sekirin was born in Russia and holds a Ph.D. in Russian Literature from the University of Toronto. He has been worn Literature from the University of Toronto. He has been working at the Center for Russian Studies at the University of king at the Center for Russian Studies at the University of Toronto since 1999. His works include The Dostoevsky ArchiveToronto since 1999. His works include The Dostoevsky Archive, a biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky; the English-language tra, a biography of Fyodor Dostoevsky; the English-language translations of Tolstory's The Calendar of Wisdom; and On the Snslations of Tolstory's The Calendar of Wisdom; and On the Sea and Other Stories: Early Short Stories of Anton Chekhov. ea and Other Stories: Early Short Stories of Anton Chekhov. He works as a research associate at the University of TorontHe works as a research associate at the University of Toronto and lives in North York, Ontario. o and lives in North York, Ontario.