352 pages, paperback
Tolstoy wrote some of the most disquieting short stories the world has known. These three are no exception. Here, the duels and duality of man and woman are played out in tortured – and sometimes tragic – drama. Above all, the characters featured in these pages bring to life universal truths for the human condition; truths that Tolstoy weaves with an almost unrivalled skill.
The Kreutzer Sonata
caused a public sensation, but Tolstoy’s wife felt angry and betrayed that he should have used details of their life together to add fuel to his scathing indictment of marriage. Tolstoy had become convinced that ‘Christian marriage’ was an impossibility, and here launches a tirade against human sexuality and the humiliating sexual ties which bind men to women.
The three stories in this volume are often considered as a trilogy on the destructive power of sexual passion, yet this is the first time they have been published together as a single volume.
An 1890 New York Times review of "The Kreutzer Sonata", describing the stir that the book produced in Russian society at the time of its publication.
Leo Tolstoy - Count Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born in 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana in the Tula province, and educated privately. He fought in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sebastopol he wrote The Sebastopol Stories, which established his reputation.
After a period in St Petersburg and abroad, where he studied educational methods for use in his school for peasant children in Yasnaya, he married Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862. The next fifteen years was a period of great happiness; they had thirteen children and Tolstoy managed his vast estates in the Volga Steppes, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote War and Peace (1865-8) and Anna Karenina (1874-6).
His teaching earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, but also much opposition and in 1901 he was excommunicated by the Russian holy synod. He died in 1910 in the course of a dramatic flight from home, at the small railway station of Astapovo.
Richard Godwin - Richard Godwin is an arts journalist and columnist on the London Evening Standard. He studied French and Russian at New College, Oxford, and lives in London.