The few short stories collected in this volume portray old-world Russia with the motley composition of its society, the authentic minutiae of everyday life, and the complexity of human relations. A gallery of characters from all walks of life pass before our eyes: the petty bourgeoisie, merchants, priests, servants, minor officials, and the elite. Life’s riddles intrigued the author, and he attempted to solve these riddles by giving the floor to his heroes and letting them tell their own story. In the "Enchanted Wanderer", in "The Make-up Artist" and many other of his stories, the author only starts the narrative and then let his heroes carry on with it. Each Leskov’s characters has his own inimitable personality, his own face and voice, and tells everything about himself in an ingenuously natural way.
In "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" (1865) we are taken into the world of a merchant-class family of that period with its crude moral of slavish obedience and its killing boredom. By a whim of fate, a passionate, impulsive woman, whose strength of character can be well likened to that of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, finds herself in this bleak world. This story suggests that is indeed a freakish world where the finest aspirations become so perverted, and people, who are full of strength and passionate vitality, come to such bad end.
"The Enchanted Wanderer" (1873), describes the life of Ivan Severyanovich Flyagin, a serf peasant, and his wanderings about the towns and villages of his native land.
"The Sentry" (1889) was written in an entirely different manner. The main character here is Postnikov, a private who has rescued a drowning man. He is one of those men with an obsessive responsiveness to the needs of others and a simple-hearted readiness for self-sacrifice.
‘The Old Genius" (1884) is base in one such anecdote. With subtle irony the author tells the story of the rascally aristocrat who has to hide from this creditors and of the "old genius" who gets the better of a crook and recovers the poor old woman’s modest savings.
The story of Lefty who had "shoed a flea" has long been a popular legend in Russia, and Lefty himself a symbol of brilliant craftsmanship. Till the end of his days Lefty remembers his homeland, and all he wants is to help his countrymen before he dies. But his wish is not come true.
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"Nikolai Leskov fully deserves the privilege of standing in line with such makers of Russian literature as Tolstoi, Gogol, Turgenev and Goncharov. In power and beauty, Leskov's talent cedes only a little to the talent of any one of these men I have named - the creators of the Holy Bible of the Russian land - but in breadth of exposition, in depth of understanding of life's riddles, and in knowledge of the Russian language, he very often surpasses his predecessors and fellow writers."
Maxim GorkyAbout the Author:
Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov (1831-1895) was born in Gorokhovo, a small village in Orel Gubernis, central Russia.
All the efforts of his mind and heart were inspired by his desire to "lay his life down for the good of Russia and all the universe." These words, belonging to one of his characters, are a perfect definition of the tenor of his work.
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Buchbeschreibung Vintage Publishing Sep 2014, 2014. Taschenbuch. Buchzustand: Neu. Neuware - A selection of stories by the 19th century Russian author, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the award-winning translator of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. 608 pp. Englisch. Artikel-Nr. 9780099577362