Note: there are surely many collections of shorter works by Tolstoy out there. This particular one was issued by the Russian publishing house "Ripol Classic" in 2003. I'll try to emphasize the stories and not the collection - and the names are my own translations from Russian. There are 20+ works in this collection, ranging from just 4 to almost 100 pages in length. Not all the stories are interesting, but here are a few I enjoyed:
  • "The death of Ivan Illych" - the single novella for which this book was worth reading. This is a true masterpiece by Tolstoy. In the first half a short biography of the protagonist is given, in Tolstoy's unique style portraying human emotions in a very realistic manner. In the second part, the reader follows Ivan Illych's disease and eventual death, in excruciating detail but with unmatched storytelling mastery. Very good story - it's worth finding a translation of it and reading it.
  • "From the notes of prince D. Nekhlyudov. Lucere" - prince Nekhlyudov is the protagonist of one of Tolstoy's great novels - "Resurrection". This is a nice short story about social equality.
  • "Cossacks: a Cossack novella" - a really nice story about a Russian soldier in the Caucasus, fighting with a regiment that's stationed in the Chechnya region back in the 19th century. I haven't read much about this period before, all one hears about Chechnya these days is their wars with Russia. Seems that the Russians conquered these peoples a couple of 100s of years ago, and they still fight for their independence.
  • "Hadji-Murat" - another story about Russian soldiers in the Caucasus, this time focusing on a defected leader of one of the clans.
  • "Master and servant" - a very short story about a merchant that went with his servant to a neighbor village in a snow storm and lost his way.
As I've said in the list above, it's very worth reading "The Death of Ivan Illych". The other stories can be skipped unless you're a hard-core fan of Tolstoy of or Russian history.

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