Master and Man by Leo Tolstoy

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Leo Tolstoy

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Count Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828, in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Orphaned at nine, he was brought up by an elderly aunt and educated by French tutors until he matriculated at Kazan University in 1844. In 1847, he gave up his studies and, after several aimless years, volunteered for military duty in the army, serving as a junior officer in the Crimean War before retiring in 1857. In 1862, Tolstoy married Sophie Behrs, a marriage that was to become, for him, bitterly unhappy. His diary, started in 1847, was used for self-study and self-criticism; it served as the source from which he drew much of the material that appeared not only in his great novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), but also in his shorter works. Seeking religious justification for his life, Tolstoy evolved a new Christianity based upon his own interpretation of the Gospels. Yasnaya Polyana became a mecca for his many converts At the age of eighty-two, while away from home, the writer suffered a break down in his health in Astapovo, Riazan, and he died there on November 20, 1910.
 
Published June 30, 2005 by Penguin. 340 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Ayn Rand, in her The Art of Fiction, called Tolstoy "the archetype of a naturalist," a writer who describes events, but offers "only one layer of motivation."

Mar 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Master and Man

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