Authors & Events
Feb 14, 2006
| ISBN 9780812975048
May 10, 1994
| ISBN 9780679431312
Jun 30, 2010
| ISBN 9780307757173
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Feb 14, 2006 | ISBN 9780812975048
May 10, 1994 | ISBN 9780679431312
Jun 30, 2010 | ISBN 9780307757173
This 1862 novel, in a vibrant new translation by Peter Constantine, is Tolstoy’s semiautobiographical story of young Olenin, a wealthy, disaffected Muscovite who joins the Russian army and travels to the untamed frontier of the Caucasus in search of a more authentic life. While striving to adopt the rough and ready lifestyle of the local Cossacks, Olenin falls in love with a free-spirited girl whose fiancé turns out to be a formidable opponent. Showcasing the philosophical insight that would characterize Tolstoy’s later masterpieces, this long overdue translation is a revelation.
A brilliant short novel inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s experience as a soldier in the Caucasus, The Cossacks has all the energy and poetry of youth while also foreshadowing the great themes of Tolstoy’s later years. His naïve hero, Olenin, is a young nobleman who is disenchanted with his privileged and superficial existence in Moscow and hopes to find a simpler life in a Cossack village. As Olenin foolishly involves himself in their violent clashes with neighboring Chechen tribesmen and falls in love with a local girl, Tolstoy gives us a wider view than Olenin himself ever possesses of the brutal realities of the Cossack way of life and the wild, untamed beauty of the rugged landscape. This novel of love, adventure, and male rivalry on the Russian frontier—completed in 1862, when the author was in his early thirties—has always surprised readers who know Tolstoy best through the vast, panoramic fictions of his middle years. Unlike those works, The Cossacks is lean and supple, economical in design and execution. But Tolstoy could never touch a subject without imbuing it with his magnificent many-sidedness, and so this book bears witness to his brilliant historical imagination, his passionately alive spiritual awareness, and his instinctive feeling for every level of human and natural life. Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude
Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) was born in central Russia. After serving in the Crimean War, he retired to his estate and devoted himself to writing, farming, and raising his large family. His novels and outspoken social polemics brought him world fame.
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