The ten stories collected in this volume demonstrate Tolstoy’s artistic prowess displayed over five decades – experimenting with prose styles and drawing on his own experiences with humour, realism and compassion. Inspired by his experiences in the army, ‘The Two Hussars’ contrasts a dashing father and his mean-spirited son. Illustrating Tolstoy’s belief that art must serve a moral purpose, ‘What Men Live By’ portrays an angel sent to earth to learn three existential rules of life, and ‘Two Old Men’ shows a peasant abandoning his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in order to help his neighbours. And in the highly moving ‘Master and Man’, Tolstoy depicts a mercenary merchant travelling with his unprotesting servant through a blizzard to close a business deal – little realizing he may soon have to settle accounts with his maker.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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.