Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Greatest Short Stories of Leo Tolstoy - Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy's stories have messages from the Bible and tell stories of forgiveness, love, trust, faith, greed, god, work and so much more. They are told simply but then have this heavy underlying message. The one story I certainly remember reading before is 'How Much Land Does a Man Need' (a greedy man who dies while trying to cover as much land as he can so he can own it - and it turns out he needs only six feet to bury him). Three hermits was a lovely story about faith.
Jaico, 376 p, Rs. 199
The stories - "God Sees the Truth but Waits" (a man who is sent to prison wrongly and meets the actual culprit there just before his release), "A Prisoner in Caucasus"(a prisoner who makes his escape thanks to a little girl for whom he made toys for), "The Bear Hunt" (hunting and killing a bear), "What Men Live By" (a lovely story of a poor cobbler who shelters a fallen angel), "A Spark Neglected Burns the House" (how words and unforgiveness can lead to enmity and ruin between two neighbouring families), "Two Old Men" (two men on a pilgrimage - one who completes it physically and another spiritually), "Where Love Is God Is" (a man's search for god who comes in various forms next day to test him), "Story of Ivan the Fool" (how a simpleton works and works and makes good his life and outwits the devil itself), "Evil Allures but Good Endures" (how a bad slave tries to spoil the others and turn them against the master but fails), "Little Girls Wiser Than Men" (adults fighting over a quarrel between two little girls but the two girls make up and start playing meanwhile), "Elias" (a rich man who loses everything and finds happiness in owning nothing), "The Imp and The Crust", "A Grain as Big as a Hen's Egg", "The Godson", "The Repentant Sinner" (how the repentant sinner convinces the saints at the pearly gates that he is truly repentant), "The Empty Drum", "The Coffee House of Surat" (all religions and faith are equal), "Too Dear", "Esarhaddon, King of Assyria", "Work, Death and Sickness" and "Three Questions" about the now).

The themes are clearly message oriented and convey the virtues of a spartan and moral life, of patience and dedication to work, devil and god, even of turning the other cheek. One can see the influence his works may have had on Gandhi. The book produced by Jaico is badly edited though.

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