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Three Questions
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2018/19 Group Reads - Archives > The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy

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message 1: by Gem , Moderator (last edited Jul 14, 2018 01:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 798 comments Mod
This is the discussion for Three Questions being read as a companion to the June read of The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy.

June 1 through June 30.

In the collection of What Men Live by and Other Tales on Project Gutenberg.

Although Leo Tolstoy is best known for Anna Karenina and War and Peace, both novels being massive, brick-like tomes he also wrote accessible short stories. “The Three Questions” was published in 1885, as part of the larger collection entitled What Men Live by and Other Tales.

“Three Questions” begins with a king and his desire to do right – or, at least, to avoid failure. In his quest “to never fail in anything he might undertake,” the king receives a lot of advice from “learned men.” Unsatisfied with their answers, he goes out into the world to find a solution.

As you read, consider these questions:

What assumptions does the king make with his three questions? What can those assumptions tell us about importance, necessity and “the right way”?

What kinds of advice does the king receive? What moral philosophies – or ways of going about life – does the advice represent? And how are these philosophies divorced from the king’s life experience?

The moral of the story suggests that the advice the king was seeking is right in front of him. How often in life is the advice we seek similarly in front of us? And what would it take to see it more clearly?

(copied from

message 2: by Gem , Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 798 comments Mod
I thoroughly enjoyed this story/parable, so much so I which I had known about it when my children were younger. It would have made a great bedtime story, one I would have read to them over and over.

message 3: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2229 comments Mod
There is definitely a children's picture book version of this story. I've seen it but I don't remember the author/illustrator. I think it is still called The Three Questions.

message 4: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1439 comments Mod
I enjoyed it too, and I'll have to look for the picture book for my daughter.

message 5: by Gem , Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gem  | 798 comments Mod
I think this is the one: The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth.

message 6: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Jul 04, 2018 09:03PM) (new)

Robin P | 2229 comments Mod
⊱✿Gem✿⊰ wrote: "I think this is the one: The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth."

Yes, that is it. I remember it had Russian names.

message 7: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2941 comments Mod
I have finally gotten around to reading this story. I loved it.

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