Published : Thursday 17 March 2022
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'How truth thickens and deepens when it migrates from didactic fable to the raw experience of a visceral awakening is one of the thrills of Tolstoy's stories' Sharon Cameron in her preface to Hadji Murad and Other Stories This, the third volume of Tolstoy's shorter fiction concentrates on his later stories, including one of his greatest, 'Hadji Murad'. In the stark form of homily that shapes these later works, life considered as one's own has no rational meaning. From the chain of events that follows in the wake of two schoolboys' deception in 'The Forged Coupon' to the disillusionment of the narrator in 'After the Ball' we see, in Virginia Woolf's observation, that Tolstoy puts at the centre of his writing one 'who gathers into himself all experience, turns the world round between his fingers, and never ceases to ask, even as he enjoys it, what is the meaning of it'. The riverrun edition reissues the translation of Louise and Aylmer Maude, whose influential versions of Tolstoy first brought his work to a wide readership in English.