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Volumul reuneste textele care dezvolta, de-a lungul unei perioade de peste cincizeci de ani, teme tolstoiene celebre.


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30 review for Sonata Kreutzer si alte povestiri (Romanian Edition) (BIBLIOTECA POLIROM.Clasici universali)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Love, marriage, family,—all lies, lies, lies." - Leo Tolstoy, The Krutzer Sonata First, let me start this review by stating I think Anna Karenina might just be a perfect novel. So, I love Tolstoy. War and Peace, also amazes me and easily belongs on the list of Great World Novels. But 'The Kreutzer Sonata' plays like the writings of an over-indulged, philosophically-stretched, cranky, Fundamentalist older man. It is the sad, second wife to Anna Karenina*. That said, I enjoyed the structure. It is "Love, marriage, family,—all lies, lies, lies." - Leo Tolstoy, The Krutzer Sonata First, let me start this review by stating I think Anna Karenina might just be a perfect novel. So, I love Tolstoy. War and Peace, also amazes me and easily belongs on the list of Great World Novels. But 'The Kreutzer Sonata' plays like the writings of an over-indulged, philosophically-stretched, cranky, Fundamentalist older man. It is the sad, second wife to Anna Karenina*. That said, I enjoyed the structure. It is basically a man, Pozdnyshev, discussing his feelings on marriage, morality, and family on a train ride with some strangers. During this discussion he admits that in a jealous rage he once killed his wife (and was later aquited). The story was censored briefly in 1890 (its censorship was later overturned), but that didn't stop Theodore Roosevelt calling Tolstoy a "sexual moral pervert". The novel does allude to masturbation, immorality, adultery, abortion, etc. Which is funny, because the whole premise of the book is to rage against our moral failings. In a later piece Tolstoy wrote (Lesson of the"The Kreutzer Sonata") defending the novella, he basically explained his views: 1. Men are basically immoral perverts with the opposite sex when young. Society and families wink at their dissoluteness. 2. The poetic/romantic ideal of "falling in love" has had a detrimental impact on morality. 3. The birth of children has lost its pristine significance and the family has been degraded even in the "modern" view of marriage. 4. Children are being raised NOT to grow into moral adults, but to entertain their parents. They are seen as entertainments of the family. 5. Romatic ideas of music, art, dances, food, etc., has contributed and fanned the sexcual vices and diseases of youth. 6. The best years (youth) of our lives are spent trying to get our "freak on" (my term, not Count Tolstoy's). That period would be better spent not chasing tail, butserving one's country, science, art, or God. 7. Chasity and celibacy are to be admired and marriage and sex should be avoided. If we were really "Christian" we would not "bump uglies" (again, my term not the Count's). It might seem like I am warping Tolstoy's argument a bit, but really I am not. I think the best response to Tolstoy came in 1908 at a celebration of Tolstoy's 80th* from G.K. Chesterton (not really a big libertine; big yes, libertine no): "Tolstoy is not content with pitying humanity for its pains: such as poverty and prisons. He also pities humanity for its pleasures, such as music and patriotism. He weeps at the thought of hatred; but in The Kreutzer Sonata he weeps almost as much at the thought of love. He and all the humanitarians pity the joys of men." He went on to address Tolstoy directly: "What you dislike is being a man. You are at least next door to hating humanity, for you pity humanity because it is human” * There are even a couple lines that seem to borrow scenes from, or allude to, Anna Karenina: "throw myself under the cars, and thus finish everything." "I was still unaware that ninety-nine families out of every hundred live in the same hell, and that it cannot be otherwise. I had not learned this fact from others or from myself. The coincidences that are met in regular, and even in irregular life, are surprising." ** Which, if the backward math works, means Kreutzer Sonata was written/published when Tolstoy was in his early 60s.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sean Blake

    Just brilliant on all accounts. From the idealistic, rural love of Family Happiness to the psychologically terrifying Kreutzer Sonata and the painful disillusionment of Father Sergius, it's just enthralling reading. Literature at its best. Typical with Tolstoy, expect beautifully written passages, philosophy and a deep understanding of human nature.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    Such hatred in these disturbing stories. Although I first read this collection years ago at the request of a "friend," I can't put the book on my "re-read" shelf. I retained no memories of the stories themselves nor of the reason that person cherished them (at the time I didn't want to reflect on/contain either thing). I had to hunt down the "Epilogue to The Kreutzer Sonata" online to confirm my assumption that the novella reflected Tolstoy's own later views on sexuality and love (yes, it does. A Such hatred in these disturbing stories. Although I first read this collection years ago at the request of a "friend," I can't put the book on my "re-read" shelf. I retained no memories of the stories themselves nor of the reason that person cherished them (at the time I didn't want to reflect on/contain either thing). I had to hunt down the "Epilogue to The Kreutzer Sonata" online to confirm my assumption that the novella reflected Tolstoy's own later views on sexuality and love (yes, it does. And poor Sofia!). I just don't understand why this is one of Tolstoy's most read stories.Tolstoy scholar R. F. Christian on the appeal of the novella: "Few other novelists could have made compelling reading out of sentiments and arguments which are irritating and manifestly unjust. Few other novelists could have given pathos and poignancy to the ending of a story whose limits appear to be laid down by the advice proffered in its opening chapters: 'Do not trust your horse in the field, or your wife in the house'." And here, in a summation which couldn't be said better, is Nabokov onThe Death of Ivan Ilych: "Ivan lived a bad life and since the bad life is nothing but the death of the soul, then Ivan lived a living death; and since beyond death is God's living light, then Ivan died into a new life – Life with a capital L."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nocturnalux

    Have you ever found yourself stuck on a plane with a veritably annoying co-passenger bent on talking to you when you rather be left in peace? Replace 'plane' with 'train' and instead of merely being annoyed by, say, a lady who wants to chat about airplane crashes (as happened to me, once), you are dealing with a psychotic man who must tell you all about how he killed his wife because, well, she had it coming. That is, in a nutshell, The Kreutzer Sonata. And yet, this scenario, as deeply disturbi Have you ever found yourself stuck on a plane with a veritably annoying co-passenger bent on talking to you when you rather be left in peace? Replace 'plane' with 'train' and instead of merely being annoyed by, say, a lady who wants to chat about airplane crashes (as happened to me, once), you are dealing with a psychotic man who must tell you all about how he killed his wife because, well, she had it coming. That is, in a nutshell, The Kreutzer Sonata. And yet, this scenario, as deeply disturbing and perplexing as it is, could be fertile ground for literary exploration. Abnormal psychology has often provided the themes for the best, deepest if darkest literature. There is the risk of ending up siding with absolute evil, though, and this is precisely what happens in this one. Imagine of Raskolnikov's self-justifications for killing the old lady were implicitly and later on, in an addendum, endorsed by the author and that his point of view was lauded throughout the text with absolutely no push-back and you may have an idea of the depths of depravity to which Kreutzer descends. The misogyny is thick, acid, dripping from virtually every single line with a kind of desperate bravado and aggrandizing sense of injured pride that it gives one pause. Occasionally, here and there, a few nuggets of decency as littered as we are reminded that if women are essentially pigs, they are so merely because they were raised that way and if given a choice and a proper moral conduct they would overcome their swinish ways. Unfortunately, said proper moral conduct is another piece of lunacy: chastity at all costs and if that is unattainable than being perpetually pregnant and nursing. The text goes out of its way to condemn contraception several times and this in a shortish tale. If there is one thing that I have learned is that doctrines- and this is a doctrinal text through and through, it may be well written and in such a way as to almost camouflage its design but dig below the glittering sentence and you can see it for what it is- that hail women's 'purity' as the stuff of wonders are almost by default heavily anti-women. It follows almost logically: if a woman after having sex feels 'impure' and is 'degraded' to the point her emotional scope is deadened (all articles of faith in this one) to the point that the ideal of womanhood is that of virginal girls, then sexually active women are placed in a very lower tier. Which is not to say that Kreutzer thinks highly of men, it very obviously does not, as time and time again it reminds me how sexual urges also reduce them into becoming beasts. But it is worth mentioning that when push comes to shove and our 'hero' finally kills someone, it is the wife that gets it. Not the man that may be having an affair with her; no, violence in this one is directed with gusto and blood lust at the woman. Because, let's be honest, she kind of had it coming. What was she wearing? I cannot help but wonder if the high praise this one receives comes from its author more than anything else. Were it an anonymous text, would it have all this raving devotion? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Be it as it may, the text runs through a gamut of things that are just too terrible in that they derail one from becoming chaste and following Christ (with the laudable goal of eventually extinguishing the human race, Tolstoy the OG anti-natalist) and those include: music, the titular sonata in particular, for it is nothing but a trigger for having frenzied sex (good thing Tolstoy wasn't around when Rock'n'roll was a thing, it'd kill him dead); children, for they become nothing but pawns in the parents' sick power games once things turn sour; marriage, which is the source of all evils because it gives vent to that frenzied sex and creates more children which are in turn horrible and may even grow up to (gasp!) compose music (say it ain't so!). I need to stress that there is a point to all this craziness. Marriage was, indeed, very often a horror show in Tolstoy's time, women were treated as cattle and put on auction in the marriage market (one of the few scenes that is truly great is the one describing those 19th century balls where young women were put on display, all decked up in their best clothes, to be more or less purchased as brides, no actual effort being put into developing them as individuals) and sexuality burdened women with so many children that health and life were compromised. Unfortunately, Kreutzer does a good job at defining the problems but goes down in flames when it offers its demented solution. The very obvious possibility of rearranging gender roles within marriage so as to create such asymmetries, of using contraception to avoid being perpetually pregnant and of investing in the actual education of women and girls, is either completed ignored or overtly condemned, as is the case with contraception (this needs emphasizing, it is almost a litmus test: texts that oppose contraception are anti-women). Whenever anyone claims that sex should be exclusively for procreation, as is the case here, a red flag should pop up. What is offered instead is this ideal of Christian sappiness where men and women become sexless, or as close as possible, and women are kept nursing so as not to go into 'heat', or whatever lunatic passes for female sexual desire. Only then will people become Christlike, producing a batch of even more Christlike people who will abstain from sex even further until we all become so Christlike that humanity comes to an end, as it really ought to happen. And here I was, thinking that the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement was a modern idea. I actually recommend reading this one as it has to be read to be believed. With that said, if detailed scenes of violence against women are triggering then stay far, far away from this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Durrant

    Tolstoy wrote both the novella "The Kreutzer Sonata" and the short story "The Devil" in 1889 during the period when his marriage was floundering. Marital happiness, he seems to say in the first of these, is illusory and sure to crash on the shoals of sexuality. A "madman" rants on page after page about the impurity of marriage, or "long-term prostitution" as he calls it. Marital life alternates, the madman says, between bouts of sexual indulgence and mutual hate. The only hope, he seems to say, Tolstoy wrote both the novella "The Kreutzer Sonata" and the short story "The Devil" in 1889 during the period when his marriage was floundering. Marital happiness, he seems to say in the first of these, is illusory and sure to crash on the shoals of sexuality. A "madman" rants on page after page about the impurity of marriage, or "long-term prostitution" as he calls it. Marital life alternates, the madman says, between bouts of sexual indulgence and mutual hate. The only hope, he seems to say, is for a man and woman to live as brother and sister in a spiritual union that precludes "bestial indulgence." Very Schopenhauerian . . . except that so few people will actually do this that we needn't fear humanity will perish! While Tolstoy was surely losing faith in his own marriage at this time, I am uncomfortable with the common critical gesture of turning this madman, who after all is a murderer, into a simple spokesperson for Tolstoy's own views (although I grant there must be some of this!). "The Devil" for me is a more powerful story. It concerns a young landowner who just wants to put his own "healthy" pre-marital affair with a young peasant woman behind and lead a happy life with his new wife. But it is not so simple. The enticements of the past have a way of coming back--and "The Devil" becomes a classic study of male obsession and self-destructiveness.

  6. 4 out of 5

    April

    Do you miss going to church on Sunday and having your preacher tell you the right way to live your life? If you do, this is the book for you. Tolstoy the moralist...at his best/worst. It's still Tolstoy of course, so even while he's moralizing, his reflections on humans and human nature are always engaging. Still, I prefer many of his other works, where his heart struggled with greater success to overcome the preacher.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Makes me not want to get married.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sierra Abrams

    This was my first little bit of Tolstoy that I’ve read. I’m a HUGE fan of Dostoevsky and I knew I would love all kinds of Russian literature, so I was quite excited to get into this. Each of the three stories was better than the last: ◦How Much Land Does A Man Need ◦The Death of Ivan Illych ◦The Kreutzer Sonata (favorite!!) All were very impressive and brought their point across nicely. The day I finished it, I eyed my copy of War and Peace for a while, wondering when I should pick it up and hoping This was my first little bit of Tolstoy that I’ve read. I’m a HUGE fan of Dostoevsky and I knew I would love all kinds of Russian literature, so I was quite excited to get into this. Each of the three stories was better than the last: ◦How Much Land Does A Man Need ◦The Death of Ivan Illych ◦The Kreutzer Sonata (favorite!!) All were very impressive and brought their point across nicely. The day I finished it, I eyed my copy of War and Peace for a while, wondering when I should pick it up and hoping it would be very soon. I still am. Recommended, most definitely, but not for everyone. The Kreutzer Sonata talks of a man who stabbed his wife to death, much due to jealousy; also underlying is the way beauty deceives and how easily we lie to ourselves. How Much Land Does a Man Need deals with greed and uses Satan to personify it…very accurate if I do say so myself. And The Death of Ivan Illych is about the life of a man who was ordinary, thought he was extraordinary, and when he died realized the truth about himself. There are a lot of struggles with hatred in these stories, which makes them more intense than I’d expected. Absolutely worth reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    E. G.

    Chronology Introduction Further Reading --Family Happiness --The Kreutzer Sonata --The Devil --Father Sergius Appendix 1: Postface to 'The Kreutzer Sonata' Appendix 2: Alternative Conclusion to 'The Devil' Notes

  10. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Ivan

    My introduction to Leo Tolstoy. The stories cover the themes of greed, faith, and jealousy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fatima Bastaki

    *How Much Land Does A Man Need? Since these stories contain a lot of religious themes, I think what Tolstoy tries to portray in this story is that greed or desires can easily consume you because the symbolism of the protagonist’s illusion of the ‘Devil’ could mean that the Devil is the one who bargains with your desires but screws you over in the end anyway. Not very unique I would say. For me, it’s one of those things where you’d criticize the character’s decisions because it could have been avo *How Much Land Does A Man Need? Since these stories contain a lot of religious themes, I think what Tolstoy tries to portray in this story is that greed or desires can easily consume you because the symbolism of the protagonist’s illusion of the ‘Devil’ could mean that the Devil is the one who bargains with your desires but screws you over in the end anyway. Not very unique I would say. For me, it’s one of those things where you’d criticize the character’s decisions because it could have been avoided. *The Death of Ivan Ilych “He wept on account of his helplessness, his terrible loneliness, the cruelty of man, the cruelty of God, and the absence of God.” This would be the story that I enjoyed the most out of the three and maybe that’s because I studied it in class or maybe not. I just got to connect with it despite the tedious complaints of an old dying man. Ivan’s emotions and experiences represent how inevitable suffering is, because of the fragility of life; no one can truly escape the complexity of our feelings in any circumstance. Not everyone will necessarily feel the torturous pain of dying, but suffering is present. And in suffering, we could find ourselves in solitude. Almost all of us can find ourselves in that kind of downfall Ivan has experienced. This illness, this suffering has forced him to confront all that went wrong in his life but moreover that he has to confront himself. *The Kreutzer Sonata “The ideal of every girl, whatever her education maybe be, will necessarily remain what it now is –to attract as many men as possible, in order to secure for herself the possibility of choosing; and the circumstance that one girl knows more mathematics, or another can play the harp, does not change one iota. A woman is happy, and attains all that she desires, when she captivates a man; hence the great object of her life is to master the art of captivating men.” First of all, I can’t express how much of a drag this was for me to read. And I am appalled that piece of shit read barely got any 2 or 1 stars from the goodreaders. “Supposedly”, the protagonist was supposed to be an intriguing character and difficult to understand because of his opposing opinions about marriage. Throughout the story, he meets someone in the train to reveal his convictions and why he murdered his wife. But really, all I have to say is this man is just the whiniest, deluded, sexist, ignorant, jealous and annoying character. He certainly has nothing interesting to say about the deception of marriage. The only reason his marriage was so shit was because he didn’t know how to communicate with his wife in the first place. His black and white perception of how gender/sex is pretty irritating. He kills his wife with NO evidence of her supposed affair just proves that this guy is really way over his head. Note: I'd like to mention that this is mostly a subjective review, my hate for the third short story is what gave me the initiative to write this review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David

    This collection of some of Tolstoy's short stories were all written after he entered his "radical Christian communist" phase toward the end of his life. To understand The Kreutzer Sonata, it helps to know that Tolstoy's marriage was miserable at this point, which perhaps explains why the Sonata is basically an extended rant on the evils of sex. According to Tolstoy, it's the duty of all Christians to avoid marriage, and if they do get married, to avoid sex. He expresses this through the words of This collection of some of Tolstoy's short stories were all written after he entered his "radical Christian communist" phase toward the end of his life. To understand The Kreutzer Sonata, it helps to know that Tolstoy's marriage was miserable at this point, which perhaps explains why the Sonata is basically an extended rant on the evils of sex. According to Tolstoy, it's the duty of all Christians to avoid marriage, and if they do get married, to avoid sex. He expresses this through the words of his narrator, a man who killed his wife after suspecting her of having an affair, but in an essay Tolstoy wrote (also included in this collection) he makes it explicit that The Kreutzer Sonata actually expressed his genuine views on sex and marriage. The remainder of stories in this collection are shorter, also very heavily Christian-themed, but are a bit more like folk-tales and thus more entertaining, as Tolstoy wrote with wonderful detail, painting vivid pictures of Russian peasant life. Ivan the Fool is your basic fairy tale about the Devil singling someone out (in this case, three brothers) to torment them and basically break up their family. Naturally, you've got two greedy/evil brothers and one simple but virtuous brother who prevails in the end. A Lost Opportunity is about a couple of feuding peasant families, and is basically a lesson in the evils of vengeance and holding grudges and the virtues of forgiveness. Polikushka, or, The Lot of a Wicked Court Servant is the grimmest story in the lot. I'm not sure what point Tolstoy was trying to make, since it started out as an obvious morality tale, looked like it was going to become a story about redemption (Polikushka is a greedy, thieving drunkard who swears to reform), but ends bitterly and hopelessly. Finally, there is The Candle, about an evil, tyrannical landlord and the serfs he oppresses. This had what I'd called a "deux ex machina" ending; the serfs plot to free themselves of their landlord's tyranny, but in the end, fate (i.e., "God") does it. Which is I suppose an expected lesson in a Christian fable, but the lesson I read was, "Don't do anything for yourself, just wait for God to solve your problems for you." If you want a small Tolstoy sampler without reading Anna Karenina or War and Peace, this is a good collection to read, but it's evident to me that for all his genius and his purported Christian ideals, Tolstoy was a really bitter, misanthropic individual.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    This book contains the following stories by Leo Tolstoy, all which I have reviewed individually. The Kreutzer Sonata: 3-stars Ivan the Fool: 2-stars A Lost Opportunity: 2-stars Polikuchka: 2-stars The Candle: 3-stars All of these five stories basically are of the theme of peasants and serfs. None of them overly impressed me. I picked this book up after The Kreutzer Sonata was mentioned in Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, as being read by one of the characters in that book. So this was a diversion re This book contains the following stories by Leo Tolstoy, all which I have reviewed individually. The Kreutzer Sonata: 3-stars Ivan the Fool: 2-stars A Lost Opportunity: 2-stars Polikuchka: 2-stars The Candle: 3-stars All of these five stories basically are of the theme of peasants and serfs. None of them overly impressed me. I picked this book up after The Kreutzer Sonata was mentioned in Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, as being read by one of the characters in that book. So this was a diversion read for me, and since the other four stories were included in my copy of Kreutzer, I decided to read them all. Thankfully they are short stories, and not full length novels like Anna Karenina, though Anna was a much more well rounded story than these shorts. (I'm shelving this with a read date in 1960 so it gets marked as read, yet doesn't show up in my read count for this year, as I reviewed all the stories individually.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Aggrey Odera

    Kreutzer is, in my opinion, Tolstoy's best short work (of the nearly twenty that I have read) - and not just because it was inspired by, and named after, one of my favourite works of music - Beethoven's Sonata 9 in A major. I do not agree with much (nearly everything) Tolstoy says in the novella, but it was amazing how much he managed to cover, and how impassioned and eloquent his positions were (even if I found them unconvincing). The story begins with a discussion of love and the "Woman questi Kreutzer is, in my opinion, Tolstoy's best short work (of the nearly twenty that I have read) - and not just because it was inspired by, and named after, one of my favourite works of music - Beethoven's Sonata 9 in A major. I do not agree with much (nearly everything) Tolstoy says in the novella, but it was amazing how much he managed to cover, and how impassioned and eloquent his positions were (even if I found them unconvincing). The story begins with a discussion of love and the "Woman question", which was particularly important in Russia at the time (Right after the serfs had been freed). There's the "independent woman" - who asserts the basic equality of men and women, there's Pozdnyshev - the story's main character, and, as in most of Tolstoy's works, a very poor veil for Tolstoy himself (whose views I will shortly elucidate), and then there's the old man who still lives in the old days of the Domostroy (a set of 16th century imperial Russian household guidelines that were largely seen as subjugating to women). Pozdnyshev (thus Tolstoy) argues for absolute sexual abstinence in society using his (Pozdnyshev's) own life story as the illustration (he met his wife; they were in love, passionately; they lived together and had five kids; fell out of love; she cheated on him with a violinist - who seduced her with his music, precisely the Kreutzer Sonata; he killed her, wanted to kill the violinist too, but then realized he’d look ridiculous running in socks- so he didn’t; he was arrested for her murder, but then was acquitted on account of her adultery). Pozdnyshev thinks none of that would have happened if the relationship between the sexes was a fundamentally different one, which he then goes on to elucidate. Sex, Pozdnyshev argues, transforms the relationship between the sexes, and is what is responsible for the subjugation of women. Because of sex, men view women as nothing more than objects for their (sexual) pleasure, and treat them as such, not giving them any respect and consideration as human beings i.e. sisters - fellow animals. And because they are treated this way, women too take it out on men. How many men, Tolstoy asks, die because they try to provide for the flighty needs of woman? Capitalism and its exploitative industries - garment and jewellery manufacture, perfumes, shoes - basically everything serving the domain of comme-il-faut- ness, which is the domain of women, are sustained only because women are subjugated - so they too in turn oppress, and they are subjugated simply because they are viewed as no more than sexual objects. Music too, is the domain of comme-il-faut; it seduces, and in doing so, leads to sex - and with it all that is negative about sex. Tolstoy's recommendations is therefore that we abstain completely from sex - if the species dies out, well, so it dies out. Tolstoy wants us instead to view others as brothers and sisters (thoughts he expresses in his other works such as "The Kingdom of God is within you" and "What is Religion and what does its essence consist of?"). For married people, this vision seems best expressed in another of Tolstoy's novellas - Family Happiness, and in the first epilogue of the epic War and Peace, where again, the only couples able to live together in peace, not killing each other, are those who treat each other not as lovers - for amorous love dies soon into a relationship- but rather as brother and sister. Whereas in Family Happiness and in the case of Natasha and Pierre in War and Peace Tolstoy is a bit more lenient on sex than he is in Kreutzer (allowing it, for example, for procreative purposes), in all three books, he is clear what the role of woman ought be. Woman's principle role ought to be mother and carer. To seek roles in public life, Tolstoy thinks, is for woman to attempt to become man, and this will never be successful. Such a woman will always be seen as a poor attempt at maleness, and thereby denied the respect she seeks- woman will not break the shackles of her subjugation by turning into her subjugator. A woman, Tolstoy further thinks, should not care about how she looks, or smells; should not give much thought to her words in a way that is supposed to reflect society's ideals of how women should act (and perhaps some modern feminists might find this part liberatory). A woman, rather, he argues, should be wholly consumed with loving and taking care of her family - as a mother and sister , and this should be her sole focus (I doubt feminists would look well upon this part). Tolstoy speaks on lots of debates we are still having - for example, the idea of various feminisms - that feminism- and the liberation we think it brings- doesn’t look the same to all women; that it isn’t just a corporate job and power - i.e. the supposed traditional domains of masculinity; that it can mean staying home to take care of one’s kids etc. He writes in clear prose that is very enjoyable to read, and he makes one think a lot. Again, I do not agree with him on most points but I still think that this is a truly great work by a master.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Arhondi

    After reading Karenina, I had a really hard time to find anything that would make me feel the same involvement as a reader. I did try, but in the end I went back to old Leo and his short stories, recommended by a friend. I have the Penguin Classics edition which includes: Family Happiness, The Kreutzer Sonata, The Devil and Father Sergius - accompanied by a very interesting preface but most of all, of a mind blowing postface by Tolstoy himself, where he tries to explain his intentions and thought After reading Karenina, I had a really hard time to find anything that would make me feel the same involvement as a reader. I did try, but in the end I went back to old Leo and his short stories, recommended by a friend. I have the Penguin Classics edition which includes: Family Happiness, The Kreutzer Sonata, The Devil and Father Sergius - accompanied by a very interesting preface but most of all, of a mind blowing postface by Tolstoy himself, where he tries to explain his intentions and thoughts for the Sonata. Tolstoy is a master of the short form as well - he treats human nature as a crime story, building suspense as to what might be next, what might be the character thinking and where is this narrative going. The Kreutzer Sonata has one of the most original openings and in my opinion, has the structure of the actual music piece. If you listen to it while reading the story, you might get the same impression. It is a true study of human emotion, its depths and contradictions. It goes well beyond any opinion on love and relationships and faces personal demons. What happens after marriage? Seems to be the question he wants to answer - most stories end in a wedding but this one is the "after". Having seen Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage again quite recently, there does seem to be an invisible thread linking the two and their questions. The dark horse of this collection is, however, Father Sergius. A true knock out of a story, in which Tolstoy again lays it all out for religion, God, hypocrisy, society, conflicting emotions and expectations, the crushing of one's ideals and how you can have your own idea of God in a society that is built on institutions. Man-made ones, full of flaws, as he shows in detail. Father Sergius and his life reminded me very much of Francoise Dolto's reading of the Good Samaritan parable in her wonderful book, The Jesus of psychoanalysis: A Freudian interpretation of the Gospel (highly recommended). Here again Tolstoy is ahead of his time and I cannot imagine the Orthodox church being happy to have read this, especially back then. His postface is full of ideas and arguments that are extremely rational and at the same time, extreme ("What we need is not an ideal, but rules and guidance that are within our power to follow.") which only demonstrate his own contradictions and his effort to live with them. A struggle which only contributed to making him such a great writer, that is still very relevant and very modern.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Francine Maessen

    One of the stories in my edition was Father Sergey. I recently read the letters by the martyr Ignatius of Antioch, but Tolstoy made a much bigger religious impact. And that's the great thing about fiction.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    What I love about Tolstoy is the conflict evident in his novels; he wants humanity to strive towards spiritual goodness but humanity is composed of individuals who are only capable of striving stubbornly for this and that and Tolstoy is overcome by compassion for their random strivings. He is a great writer because he does not force his characters to strive for goodness, and I think this broke his heart, he follows them as they follow their own destinies and this sadness about the intractabilit What I love about Tolstoy is the conflict evident in his novels; he wants humanity to strive towards spiritual goodness but humanity is composed of individuals who are only capable of striving stubbornly for this and that and Tolstoy is overcome by compassion for their random strivings. He is a great writer because he does not force his characters to strive for goodness, and I think this broke his heart, he follows them as they follow their own destinies and this sadness about the intractability of human nature permeates all of his stories. Tolstoy himself was unable to strive always for spiritual goodness, and I’m glad of this because if he had he would not have written, and even if he had written he would not have written so very well because he would not have been striving to write Very Well, and he would have lacked the experience that deepens empathy and for want of the necessary empathy he would not have been able to write Very Well. The Kreutzer Sonata is an extreme example of this conflict between what people want and what is right and good. I had not read this story in a long time and had remembered the Sonata itself as taking up most of the story. I was surprised to discover that although the Sonata is performed at a crucial point in the narrative and the echoing chords ring in the ears of poor Pozdnischeff, the music itself is only briefly mentioned. What I love about this story is the structure; it is a story within a story told by a murderer to an impartial first person narrator, as they travel through the night on a train. At first the murderer seems to be a madman, he behaves strangely, drinks a poisonously strong tea, smokes compulsively, admits to strangers that he killed his wife, he raves about indecent clothing and fashionably lax morals (which I take as symbols of the most superficial aspects of society that lure the individual away from spiritual goodness.) Then it seems the murderer’s story is one of betrayal, but he himself acknowledges that his wife was probably not an adulteress and that even if she was he had no right to kill her. The betrayal that lies at the stabbed heart of the story is in fact, his betrayal of her, because for all his jealous rage, it turns out that the unthinkable thing (which he imagined she had done) was not adultery but murder. Pozdnischeff only realizes this when he sees his dead wife in her coffin and “she who a little while before was living, moving, warm, was now still, wax-like, cold, and that this could be righted nowhere, never, by no one.” Like many of Tolstoy’s characters before him Pozdnischeff’s striving brought him nothing but suffering, but with his suffering comes remorse. And because humanity refuses to strive towards goodness it is only through remorse that they can perceive the truth and recognize the folly of their ways.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    These stories each had clear strengths, and the more Tolstoy I read the more impressed I am by how he manages to give just enough weight to the important details that they strike the reader as ones to remember without completely overwhelming the other details that are just there to more fully set the scene. It's a delicate balance and he achieves it admirably well. That said, though, these stories failed to strike a strong chord with me. The first is essentially a fable, and a rather transparent These stories each had clear strengths, and the more Tolstoy I read the more impressed I am by how he manages to give just enough weight to the important details that they strike the reader as ones to remember without completely overwhelming the other details that are just there to more fully set the scene. It's a delicate balance and he achieves it admirably well. That said, though, these stories failed to strike a strong chord with me. The first is essentially a fable, and a rather transparent and plodding one, with a clear and direct moral. The lengthy title story is almost entirely a monologue, so it seems strange that it is forced into the construct of a dialogue, and even stranger that there are ten pages of essentially unrelated talk amongst other passengers just to lead in to the actual story. I'm still not sure of the purpose of these first few chapters - perhaps to familiarize readers with popular views on the subject? But presumably Tolstoy's contemporaries - the readership he was writing for - would already be aware of the various facets of this love argument the lady on the train puts forth. Nested between these two is the rather more interesting "The Death of Ivan Ilych," which makes some surprising and insightful comments on death and our awareness of it being a vague reality for others versus our eventual recognition of it being inevitable for ourselves as well. There were periods where the prose moved a little slowly for me, but there were also some lovely parallels drawn between the thoughts of those visiting Ivan shortly before and after his death and Ivan's own thoughts about it. If I was only rating this story rather than the whole collection, I would probably add another star.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    This has 3 short stories in it. The first was very thought-provoking, about how much land does it take to make a man happy? Substitute land for $, power, love and you pretty much have it analyzed. The second story I didn't get. About dying and having everyone around you know it, and yet not talk about it. They're all just waiting for the man to die so they can take what he has, his job, his money, etc. But it does say something about the legacy we leave, and how we should frame our lives a littl This has 3 short stories in it. The first was very thought-provoking, about how much land does it take to make a man happy? Substitute land for $, power, love and you pretty much have it analyzed. The second story I didn't get. About dying and having everyone around you know it, and yet not talk about it. They're all just waiting for the man to die so they can take what he has, his job, his money, etc. But it does say something about the legacy we leave, and how we should frame our lives a little around that. For instance, the main character marries this woman without really thinking about whether he loves or even cares about her. He does it for "show." Then, I guess the rest of the story is about how everyone is just watching him "his show" to wait for the part where he dies. Pretty sad, but made me think. The main story, The Kreutzer Sonata, is all about how this man kills his wife out of jealousy. He thinks she's having an affair with a musician. But he may have been the one who drove her to it, so he's also to blame. He the concludes that love makes people do bad things. But of course, if it was real love, there would have been more trust and he would not have been jealous to begin with. You get the feeling this character thinks his wife is something to just posess, and not coexist with.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    Convoluted and lunatic. A roller coaster of confession and parable and darkly comic grandiosity and spiritual and physical anguish. Perhaps the anti-love child of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and Rousseau with a little folklore about the devil thrown in. Anyway, it's Tolstoy, so relationships, love or lack of love or sex or lack of sex or prophylactics or lack thereof or the medical industry and socially circumscribed institutions of love or expectations created and washed away by these inst Convoluted and lunatic. A roller coaster of confession and parable and darkly comic grandiosity and spiritual and physical anguish. Perhaps the anti-love child of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and Rousseau with a little folklore about the devil thrown in. Anyway, it's Tolstoy, so relationships, love or lack of love or sex or lack of sex or prophylactics or lack thereof or the medical industry and socially circumscribed institutions of love or expectations created and washed away by these institutions or something or everything become the cause of much unhappiness and death.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I picked up this compilation to read the Kreutzer Sonata for The List, but honestly I enjoyed the other stories in the book much more. I had a very difficult time staying focused for the first part and honestly found the Sonata rather boring. The other stories, including "Ivan the Fool" felt like classic folk tales and were often amusing as well as beautifully told. I would recommend this for the other stories rather than the featured one. I came across one review that said this was a terrible t I picked up this compilation to read the Kreutzer Sonata for The List, but honestly I enjoyed the other stories in the book much more. I had a very difficult time staying focused for the first part and honestly found the Sonata rather boring. The other stories, including "Ivan the Fool" felt like classic folk tales and were often amusing as well as beautifully told. I would recommend this for the other stories rather than the featured one. I came across one review that said this was a terrible translation, so maybe that was the problem.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tatesha

    One of my favorite short stories of all time is in this book. It's called, "The Devil" and it is in my opinion the best of all the stories in this collection.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    Best of the bunch: "The Death of Ivan Ilych." Dismally effective.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jackson

    Each story better than the previous! The titular novella gave a cogent look into the machinations of jealousy. Great stuff.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Flo Neamţiu

    I loved the debate, the exchange and defending of ideas. I loved the force of the story. Classics are classics for a reason.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeff William

    Keep in mind this book got extremely personal during the main novella, The Kreutzer Sonata. What I loved is that Tolstoy essentially delves into the negative thoughts "we all" have thats promulgated through self-isolation. Through out this book Tolstoy has a hint of comedic irony which was more prevalent during the short stories and the first half of the novella. "... how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. [She] talks nonsense, you listen and hear not nonsense but cleverness. She Keep in mind this book got extremely personal during the main novella, The Kreutzer Sonata. What I loved is that Tolstoy essentially delves into the negative thoughts "we all" have thats promulgated through self-isolation. Through out this book Tolstoy has a hint of comedic irony which was more prevalent during the short stories and the first half of the novella. "... how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. [She] talks nonsense, you listen and hear not nonsense but cleverness. She says and does horrid things, and you see only charm.” -Posdnicheff(The Kreutzer Sonata) How Much Land does Man Need?: Short comedically iron fable like story. I only recall thinking the writing was strongest in this due to its briskness. 3/5 The Death of Ivan Illych and The Kreutzer Sonata: Dumped together due to be companion pieces with the failure marriage being a significant element of the story. While called anti-marriage by critics and by Leo Tolstoy as anti-carnal desire, I find it to be more about something slightly different. The failure of choice on part of the protagonist's and the deliberate way we trick ourselves into unknowingly picking the wrong choice. While I loved that about both stories, the manic way in which some characters spoke was effective in showing their unhinged mind, I was numbed to it about half way through the novella and just wanted him to continue. There is also a surprising amount of very progressive ideas in the novella too. "Men say they see women as equals. They say they must have the same rights and powers as themselves. ....Look around. Women are still playthings for men’s pleasure." -Posdnicheff (The Kreutzer Sonata) Over all I wish the writing was sharper in some parts. Kreutzer Sonata and Posdnicheff monologues within will hold a special place in my heart for that first half. It was like Posdnicheff was reading a diary of my own mind. You may think yourself a good person at the time, but people need to be tested everyday. Its quite difficult to stay in control, but that okay because its difficult for all of us. "Until I married I lived like everybody else... not morally... I was performing my duty. I considered myself a model... a thoroughly moral man." -Posdnicheff (The Kreutzer Sonata)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    So, I’ve now read my first Tolstoy. Not War and Peace. I haven’t the strength yet. I read a collection called The Kreutzer Sonata, which contains three longish short stories: "How Much Land Does a Man Need," "The Death of Ivan Ilych," and "The Kreutzer Sonata.” Seeing as how this is a translation, I can’t make much judgement about Tolstoy’s prose directly. These tales are well and simply told. There’s not much beauty in the prose—in the translation, but there is excellent scene setting and Tolsto So, I’ve now read my first Tolstoy. Not War and Peace. I haven’t the strength yet. I read a collection called The Kreutzer Sonata, which contains three longish short stories: "How Much Land Does a Man Need," "The Death of Ivan Ilych," and "The Kreutzer Sonata.” Seeing as how this is a translation, I can’t make much judgement about Tolstoy’s prose directly. These tales are well and simply told. There’s not much beauty in the prose—in the translation, but there is excellent scene setting and Tolstoy seems able to involve you in the tale quickly. The stories are long and a bit slow for modern readers, but it’s not unbearable and the interesting things that happen keep you reading. I gave the collection four stars, which is pretty darn good. With the exception of “How Much Land,” and the ending of “The Kreutzer Sonata,” these stories are almost exclusively “internal experiences.” Almost no action, mostly telling, with very little showing. Despite these negatives, the tales are compelling, especially “Ivan Ilych” and “Kreutzer.” They are compelling because they lay out moment by moment high level emotional destruction of a human being, and they are paced nearly perfectly to wring the most out of the reader. “The Death of Ivan Ilych” is just that, a story about one man coming to grips with his impending death. The fears, the hopes, the pleading. They are all there in superb detail. I found the ending excruciating and was glad of it. “The Kreutzer Sonata” is about the destruction of a marriage through jealousy. The last sections of that are also excruciating but pretty close to ‘page turning’ intensity. The internalized experiences of the characters in these stories rang absolutely “true” to me, and that is the mark of a very good observer of human behavior. Tolstoy certainly hit the mark square center. I highly recommend this collection. I’ve already picked up another collection of Tolstoy’s short stories and will start reading that soon. And then? Maybe War and Peace.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Metodija Nikolovski

    This is a peculiar collection of two novellas and a short story. I gave it a cumulative 4 stars, but my break-down of the pieces is as follows: How Much Land Does a Man Need - 4,5 stars Death of Ivan Ilych - 5 stars The Kreutzer Sonata - 2 stars I enjoyed this collection tremendously, until I reached the Kreutzer Sonata, which I despised intensely. Not because of the subject, not because of the views held by the character (which I understand were also a big chunk of Tolstoy's), not because of the se This is a peculiar collection of two novellas and a short story. I gave it a cumulative 4 stars, but my break-down of the pieces is as follows: How Much Land Does a Man Need - 4,5 stars Death of Ivan Ilych - 5 stars The Kreutzer Sonata - 2 stars I enjoyed this collection tremendously, until I reached the Kreutzer Sonata, which I despised intensely. Not because of the subject, not because of the views held by the character (which I understand were also a big chunk of Tolstoy's), not because of the setting....I just think it is bad writing through and through. A pseudo-philosophical rant that is not only ill-structured, but also improbable, and weakly portrayed. Easily the worst Tolstoy I have read so far. On the other hand, The Death of Ivan Ilych was in many ways the pure antithesis to the Kreutzer Sonata. It was well-structured, brilliantly paced, emotionally charged, and above all, it was real and relatable. The other short story was a simple and straightforward cautionary tale on greed and man's eternal struggle with megalomania. As in everything by Tolstoy, I can't help but wish for a bit less didacticism on his part, but seeing as this is one of his hallmarks, I take it as it comes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    This trilogy of stories from Tolstoy give certain proof of the genius of the man. The first of the three, How Much Land Does a Man Need? is a fable about the path of greed. The second, The Death of Ivan Ilych is one that I had previously read concerning a man who finally learns the importance in life through his impending death. The third story, The Kreutzer Sonata attracted me via its backstory. Tolstoy was listening to Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata and was so moved by it that he invoked a challenge This trilogy of stories from Tolstoy give certain proof of the genius of the man. The first of the three, How Much Land Does a Man Need? is a fable about the path of greed. The second, The Death of Ivan Ilych is one that I had previously read concerning a man who finally learns the importance in life through his impending death. The third story, The Kreutzer Sonata attracted me via its backstory. Tolstoy was listening to Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata and was so moved by it that he invoked a challenge of writing a story based on the emotions the music inspired. This challenge seemed appropriate to me as I feel the writing of Tolstoy to be equally powerful to the work of Beethoven. The story tells of preconceived notions of marriage met with harsh realities. And how those realities over time can lead to madness.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dyanna

    There are three short but impactful stories in this book. How Much Land does a Man Need, The Death of Ivan Ilych, The Kreutzer Sonata. I need to dig more of why or what inspired him to write these stories because they're described so vividly which is why it's good. 1) Greed. You think you only need this much and it will be enough and make you happy, but once you have it you start thinking of having more until it becomes the death of you. 2) Living life by what others deemed appropriate, but you fee There are three short but impactful stories in this book. How Much Land does a Man Need, The Death of Ivan Ilych, The Kreutzer Sonata. I need to dig more of why or what inspired him to write these stories because they're described so vividly which is why it's good. 1) Greed. You think you only need this much and it will be enough and make you happy, but once you have it you start thinking of having more until it becomes the death of you. 2) Living life by what others deemed appropriate, but you feel miserable living in it. What is life if it is just to create a perfect looking facade for others, and the only way to escape that miserable life is death? 3) A tale of jealousy and hatred that drives a person nuts. Now I can't say I haven't read Tolstoy.

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