I’ve read this before but maybe it was time again – the 19th Century Lit group wanted a suggestion and they hadn’t read this one (for the group anyway).
I’ve read it before along with many of Tolstoy’s other works and had a feel for it but as usual with second readings of really good books – books which aren’t plot driven anyway – there is so much more than “how does it end?”
by Leo Tolstoy (Russian)
1864/ 104 pages (Kindle)
read by David Thorne – 7h 16m
rating – 9.25 / classic
To an extent, the book reflects Tolstoy’s own early adult life but, although he wrote while he was in the Caucasus, he didn’t actually write this story until about 6 years later. Much of it is based on early thoughts related to themes he developed later – love and pacifism especially. In this novel there is a decided emphasis on the natural man, simple living, it’s almost romantic but the attention to detail puts a realist spin on it.
Olenin is a free and very immature aristocrat who joins the military to get away from what he is coming to think of as his meaningless and somewhat degenerate lifestyle in Moscow – besides, he has women troubles and owes money. It’s not a big deal – he really doesn’t think much about other people. He wants to find love but isn’t sure he believes in it.
As he and his serf and brother ride across the Russian Steppes he falls in love with the landscape – he is totally awed. Then he comes to a village where the whole place captures his imagination and his heart. He falls in love and he wants to stay.
Reading and rereading this book opened my eyes once again to the wonder of Tolstoy – this isn’t his best book by any means, but the promise is there in everything from the scope to the plot and characters. Actually, I could read it again.