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Divine and Human and Other Stories [Paperback]

Leo Tolstoy , Gordon Spence

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Book Description

June 1 2000 European Classics
Drawing on the tragic past of Russia and its empire to comment on the issues and ideas of his day, Leo Tolstoy wrote the stories in Divine and Human and Other Stories during the chaos surrounding the 1905 revolution. These stories, presented together for the first time, show the depth of, and contradictions in, Tolstoy's thought as he tried to reconcile his harsh religious beliefs with humanist appeals for justice. Taken as a whole, the collection is a revealing look at the complex life and thought of a literary giant.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (June 1 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810117622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810117624
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.1 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 172 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #974,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolstoy Manages to Shine Through a Careless Translation March 4 2001
By K.E. Culbertson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Tolstoy, a writer of such undeniable power, proves perhaps by the most extreme scenario that he is not overrated as a transcendant writer: namely, this book is still vital despite a horribly mangled translation by Gordon Spence. Here's one example of the needless contortions Spence plays with Russian/English: "But what he understood now by him to whom he appealed was something he knew to be the most real of everything he knew." Another gem: ". . .and in the same week he drank not only all the money that he had received for the execution, but also all his relatively expensive clothes. . ." Whaat? How does one drink expensive clothes? Yet another: "With the devoted old nurse. . .she sat in her father's closed sleigh, which had been newly repaired for the long journey, and set out on the long journey." Come on. How about ". . .newly repaired for the long journey, and set out."? Yet to read the story "Divine and Human" is a seminal experience nonetheless. Amazing, Tolstoy has to be a titan to shine through this, yet he does.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stories May 19 2001
By Plinio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The book contains some short stories; one of them is titled "Divine and Human". The content of the stories varies: some of them are fables with a happy ending others, as for instance "Divine and Human", are stories with bleak atmospheres resembling the ones present in "The Death of Ivan Ilich" or in "Resurrection. The author, anyhow, always deploys a positive message of hope. The author clearly depicts last century Russian peasant's poor conditions of life. These very miserable life styles are the base for the author's reflections and considerations about the morally correct behaviour that rich people should hold in order to be useful to others and to be happier themselves.
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