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The Cossacks and Other Stories

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  276 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Olenin was a youth who had never completed his university course, never served anywhere (having only a nominal post in some government office or other), who had squandered half his fortune and had reached the age of twenty-four without having done anything or even chosen a career. He was what in Moscow society is termed un jeune homme. But he did find a career -- he took a ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 30th 1961 by Penguin Classics (first published 1863)
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Tolstoy, when you don't feel like committing to a thousand pages. It's great.
The Cossacks is a coming of age story based on Tolstoy's experience of the Caucasus and the cossack way of life when he was there as a young soldier. It's gripping enough and has beautiful passages, especially those where the landscape of the plains, rivers and mountains are described. You feel as though you are there - no-one can do that like Tolstoy. It's the work of a youngish writer though, with characters that feel a bit like archetypes, not always completely convincingly created.

Well at le
Family Happiness – 2.5 – A bit formulaic with stock characters. But an insightful story into marriage.

The Cossacks – 4.5 – Wonderful. Like a sample size of what Tolstoy hast offer in his full novels. The character progression in Olenin is very enjoyable. In a sense Olenin felt very familiar, like he reminded me other characters, but I never could place it. Olenin’s letter towards the end was fabulous.

The themes of feeling at home and being an outsider are wonderfully developed. Olenin does not
Apr 17, 2015 Emma rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: russia
happy ever after - 3.5/5
ivan ilyich - 4/5
cossacks - 3/5
A collection of lesser-known pieces from Tolstoy, which have been curiously & serendipitously topical dealing with the Russian Empire of the brutal & tyrannical Tsar Nicholas I - (ridiculed & filleted by Tolstoy in the outstanding story "Hadji Murat" about a Muslim tribal leader in the Caucasus in the 1850s)- a perfect facsimile of Putin's putative incursions in the same areas. The "Sevastopol Stories" deal with Tolstoy's realistic picture of the Crimean War (1854-57) in which he ser ...more
Feb 29, 2008 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Russia and Russian culture, Cossacks, Orthodox Christians
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Life difficulties last week sent me running to the pages of classic Russian literature. And this one sent me to Tolstoy's "The Cossacks." I love the pace of a good Russian story...and this one didn't let me down. I was hooked from the beautiful opening paragraph and felt my reality melt away as I sank into a new one:

"All is quiet in Moscow. The squeak of wheels is seldom heard in the snow-covered street. There are no lights left in the windows and the street lamps have been extinguished. Only th
The Cossacks
I enjoyed this short story greatly, as it reminded me of the joy of being foreign. When you are a stranger in a strange land everything is new and wonderful. In reading The Cossacks I got that same feeling of euphoria in both being different and being among a strange culture that is different. Also, I felt it was an interesting travelogue for people living in the big city (i.e. Moscow) about life on the frontier. It reminded of the movie Dances With Wolves or more recently Avatar.

First off, this edition contains The Cossacks, The Sevastopol Stories, and Hadji Murat. While I'm glad I read them all I can't say that the experience was all that pleasurable. This edition is chock full of information but so poorly structured I spent the bulk of my time trying to locate all the end notes. Made for some slow reading. Then there is the subject matter... If you loved the battle scenes in War and Peace then you'll be into these stories. Outside of The Cossacks they are all pretty g ...more
War and Peace has been on my "to read list" forever. However, I was a bit intimidated by the length and wanted to try something shorter first. The Cossacks and Other Stories was the perfect fit. I loved the three stories within the book and never felt overwhelmed by Tolstoy's writing. I'm now looking forward to tackling War and Peace in audio format!
I know this rating system is crazy whereby I can give five stars to a work of contemporary US fiction and no more than 4 stars to a Russian masterpiece, but nevertheless the Cossacks is a fantastic book dragged down only slightly by the middle novella about a siege in Sebastopol. The other two stories here, Hadju Murad and The Cossacks are just about perfect in every way. The former is a great fable for our islamophobic times. The latter is not only a meditation on war but timelesss story about ...more
Scott Fishwick
Not even this b-side translation can spoil Tolstoy for me.
Much more accessible than War And Peace, and still full of very rich characters. Sevastopol Sketches is the star in this collection, with a knock-out opening and ending, and some in-depth exploration of the nature of courage and cowardice which doesn't always lend itself well to the short form, but hey, this is Tolstoy, a war vet in his own right with a few things he needed to get off his chest before starting that opus.
I had an older version of this Penguin edition that had in it The Death of Ivan Ilyich, The Cossacks, and Happy Ever After. The stories were good and entertaining and thought-provoking. What does it mean to be in love? How can people from two different social classes engage in a relationship? Is there honesty at death?
This is the only Tolstoy I've read, but I enjoyed it. It starts out pretty slow, but picks up after the first chapter. As Tolstoy tells the story you can see the mountains and small village near the river, and you can vision the guards and the border skirmishes. This is an excellent book, well worth the read.
Jason Gant
Part of reading is the fun of escape. Tolstoy vividly takes one to 1850's Caucasus. However, one can't help contemplate the current "war on terror" and the current Russian and Chechen relations while reading Hadji Murat. The reading is yakshi bek yakshi! (Good very good) Saubul!
The Cossacks is so close to being perfect; it pulls painfully away from perfection, just as the protagonist is pulled painfully away from the spiritual release/country romance he's looking for... and the gorgeous mania of clarity is muddied by emotional disquiet.
A Note on the Texts

--The Cossacks

The Sevastopol Stories
--Sevastopol in December
--Sevastopol in May
--Sevastopol in August (1855)

--Hadji Murat


Matthew Ciaramella
Dear Tolstoy,
I would like to go back in time to serve with you in the Russian army and be a real djigit. Your prose is fantastic and lovely. I have mad props for your beliefs, social justice forever yo.

With Love,
Most have been a refection on something he personally did, it was interesting, but not nearly as complete or complicated as his other novels and no moral point
Mountain men on the edge of the Russian empire. Wonder if any of the djigits left the motherland for Canada, part of the Tolstoy-funded Doukhobors exodus?
Todd Williams
Overshadowed since I just read War and Peace, but Cossacks was very good. I'm looking forward to re-reading Hadji Murat after so many years.
Quintessentially Russian Tolstoy makes good reading. These stories are much more accessible than War and Peace or Anna Karenin...
only had to read the cossacks. not a huge fan of ethnographical details and the characters... i don't know, so 2d... not impressed.
"Hadji Murat" -- Awesome. Definitely worth the read just for the parallel chapters on Nicholas I and Shamil alone.
Jesse Spackman
I love the way Tolstoy writes. He's now become my favorite author. I can't wait to dive into War and Peace.
This is on my keeper shelf and I revisit it every year or so, it is so terribly good!
T Land
Pretty good supplement to Orlando Figes's _The Crimean War_.
A good read I look forward to discussing with my friends.
Nahk Salohcin
Nahk Salohcin marked it as to-read
Sep 03, 2015
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Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой; commonly Leo Tolstoy in Anglophone countries) was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction. Many consider To ...more
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