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Divine and Human And Other Stories - Leo Tolstoy

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2005. 7. 18.








Divine and Human
And Other Stories by

Leo Tolstoy





Synopsis: Divine and Human is a collection of previously undiscovered and untranslated (into English) stories by the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy that probes the complexities of life and faith.




Catalog Description: Divine and Human stands apart as both a landmark in literary history and master-piece of spiritual and ethical reflection. Suppressed in turn by the tzarist and Soviet regime, the tales contained in this book have, for the most part, never been published in English until now.


Emerging at last, they offer western readers fresh glimpses of novelist and philosopher Leo Tolstoy. Divine and Human consists of choice selections from The Sunday Reading Stories, the second volume in a two-part work titled The Circle of Reading. In the words of translator Peter Sekirin, "Tolstoy considered The Circle of Reading to be the major work of his life.


Considering its difficult history, it is not surprising that only recently has it been rediscovered." From its sparkling vignettes to its lengthier stories, Divine and Human probes the complexities of life and faith. Its characters range the spectrum of human emotions and qualities, from hatred to love and joy to grief; from sublime nobility to grotesque self-absorption.


Tolstoy's world, though far-removed from today's information age, becomes our world -- indeed, has always been and always will be our world. Motor cars may have replaced horse-drawn cars, but human hearts remain the same, and questions of truth, mercy, forgiveness, devotion, justice, and the nature of God knock as insistently on the doors of our lives today as they did in Tolstoy's time. Welcome, then, to Divine and Human: a buried treasure at last unearthed, and certain to be prized by Tolstoy readers and lovers of great literature.










Editorial Reviews


From Publishers Weekly
These 16 selections from Tolstoy's final eclectic collection of tales titled The Sunday Reading Stories represent the Russian novelist's turn away from the troubling human condition in Anna Karenina toward a growing preoccupation with moral issues.
Some are brief vignettes, like "The Archangel Gabriel," "The Repentant Sinner" and "The Son of a Thief," in which a prospective juror disqualifies himself because he cannot sit in judgment on a thief when his own father committed the same crime.
Several of the stories are adaptations--"Stones," from a fable by E. Poselianin; "The Power of Childhood," from Victor Hugo's "The Civil War"; and "Sisters," a poignant retelling of Guy de Maupassant's "In the Port," about a sailor's shore leave at Marseilles.
"Divine and Human," set in 1870s Russia at a peak of struggle between the government and revolutionaries, centers around student Anatoly Svetlogub, who is convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government and spends his final days reading the New Testament. With the exception of a few entries, this is the first English translation of these pieces, which were suppressed first by the czarist government and then by the Soviets.
Hardly controversial in the eyes of contemporary American readers, these selections are not particularly noteworthy as critiques of either aristocracy or communism, but rather as lovely artifacts that give us further insight into Tolstoy's notions of wisdom and spirituality.
Though this book is published by an evangelical house, the fragments of Tolstoyan theology Sekirin has chosen for it are best described as universalist. All in all, it is a delightful addition to any Tolstoy collection or a fine introduction to his work.
(May) FYI: Coincidentally, Northwestern University Press is issuing its own translation of three of the stories included in the Zondervan edition, in a volume also titled Divine and Human. "Berries," "What For?" (titled "Why Did It Happen?" in the Zondervan edition) and "Divine and Human" are translated and introduced by Gordon Spence. Spence's introduction stresses the political import and allegory of the tales, all three of which were written around the time of the Russian revolution of 1905. All the royalties from the publication of Northwestern's edition will go to Amnesty International. ($16.95 paper 168p ISBN 0-8101-1762-2; June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


From Library Journal
Russian writer Leo, or Lev, Tolstoy wrote a number of unpretentious and straightforward stories with a plain Christian moral for primary school children. Sekirin, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, has translated 16 such tales. Some appear here in English for the first time, and some can be found in Tolstoy's Twenty-Three Tales, translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude (1975).
Tolstoy did not originate all of these stories, though they did come from his pen: he often rewrote or adapted stories from such diverse writers as Victor Hugo, Nokolai Leskov, and Guy de Maupassant. All the tales, however, show the hand of the Master; Tolstoy is unsurpassed in making his point by letting the facts speak for themselves. Sekirin's translation reads more easily than the Maudes' volume and uses simpler grammar. Though the stories have literary value, they aim primarily at religious readers. Recommended for public and church libraries.DBert Beynen, Des Moines Area Comm. Coll. Lib., IA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.