Read Selected Tales by Nikolai Leskov Free Online
Book Title: Selected Tales|
The author of the book: Nikolai Leskov
Edition: Heron Books
Date of issue: 1967
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
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Reader ratings: 6.2
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.69 MB
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Nikolai Leskov is apparently an author of substantial influence, being cited by such eminent writers as Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bulgakov, and Gorky. Yet despite this, he is not so well known in the West. I confess I've never heard of him until I saw the new Pevear/Volokhonsky edition in the book store a few weeks ago.
Leskov, in these short stories, is an honest and forthright author who is most interested in telling the stories and also the characterization of 'upright men', as described in his epilogue in the endnotes. One of his most common tricks is that introduce a character early on in the story, who then tells a story or anecdote where the majority of the narrative action occurs.
Three stories in this collection stood out to me personally - 'Lady Macbeth of Mstensk', later made into an opera by Shostakovich, is a raw look at adultery and murder, combining Madame Bovary with the determined fatalism of Lady Macbeth. The title story, 'Enchanted Wanderer', is a picaresque yawp in the wild steppe, and our narrator wanders like a Russian Candide, in this strangest of all possible worlds. 'Lefty' is an absurd and lovely story about mechanical fleas and good old peasant ingenuity. Here the narrator's gift for colloquial language shines.
With the exception of a few moments in 'Enchanted Wanderer', where the author engages in some ugly little japes against the Jews and Romani, Leskov is a fine sketcher of people and their qualities. He is a writer who savors the little details. He moralizes at times, but not from a sense of broader mysticism like Dostoevsky or Tolstoy in his later works, but because he has a desire to portray the raw feelings of the majority of people. He very seldom describes the aristocratic minority of Russian society, but instead handles the rest, and does so quite well. Most of all he is a storyteller, and it is a shame that he has been buried, unburied, and ignored for too long.
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Nikolaj S. Leskow
Nikolaj Semënovič Leskov
Nikolaĭ Semenovich Leskov
Н. С. Лѣсков-Стебницкий
Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov (Russian: Николай Семёнович Лесков; 16 February 1831 — 5 March 1895) was a Russian novelist, short story writer, playwright, and journalist who also wrote under the pseudonym M. Stebnitsky. Praised for his unique writing style and innovative experiments in form, and held in high esteem by Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky among others, Leskov is credited with creating a comprehensive picture of contemporary Russian society using mostly short literary forms. His major works include Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1865) (which was later made into an opera by Shostakovich), The Cathedral Clergy (1872), The Enchanted Wanderer (1873), and "The Tale of Cross-eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea" (1881).
Leskov was born at his parent's estate in Oryol Gubernia in 1831. He received his formal education at the Oryol Lyceum. In 1847 Leskov joined the Oryol criminal court office, later transferring to Kiev where he worked as a clerk, attended university lectures, mixed with local people, and took part in various student circles. In 1857 Leskov quit his job as a clerk and went to work for the private trading company Scott & Wilkins owned by Alexander Scott, his aunt's English husband. He spent several years traveling throughout Russia on company business. It was in these early years that Leskov learned local dialects and became keenly interested in the customs and ways of the different ethnic and regional groups of Russian peoples. His experiences during these travels provided him with material and inspiration for his future as a writer of fiction.
Leskov's literary career began in the early 1860s with the publication of his short story "The Extinguished Flame" (1862), and his novellas Musk-Ox (May 1863) and The Life of a Peasant Woman (September, 1863). His first novel No Way Out was published under the pseudonym M. Stebnitsky in 1864. From the mid 1860s to the mid 1880s Leskov published a wide range of works, including journalism, sketches, short stories, and novels. Leskov's major works, many of which continue to be published in modern versions, were written during this time. A number of his later works were banned because of their satirical treatment of the Russian Orthodox Church and its functionaries. In his last years Leskov suffered from angina pectoris and asthma. He died on 5 March 1895. He was interred in the Volkovo Cemetery in Saint Petersburg, in the section reserved for literary figures.
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