Tolstoy Redux: Short Stories

By | March 28, 2009

PDF File (1.3 MB, 40 pages): Eleven Tolstoy Short Stories

Yesterday I noted that I find the two “War and Peace” extracts in the 16-week “University” Class of Nonviolence uninspiring: neither useful for the study of nonviolence nor interesting when divorced from the magnificent novel. Yet, it would be absurd to assign Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” at 1,300 pages (give or take a few), as a class reading. In search of an alternative, I started reading his short stories and found them delightful, relevant and SHORT.

All of them are didactic—containing little life lessons—and many start with an introductory Bible verse. Two are about the death penalty, one about interfaith dialog, a few about greed and several about forgiveness. The story that Tolstoy called “Where Love Is, God Is” was made into a 27-minute claymation video in 1977 and is popular for children in Christian Sunday schools, “Martin the Cobbler.” I’ve put together a little booklet of eleven of Tolstoy’s stories. The collection includes: Three Questions; How Much Land Does a Man Need; The Candle; God Sees the Truth, but Waits; The Coffee House of Surat; The Grain as Big as a Hen’s Egg; Little Girls Wiser Than Men; Esarhaddon, King of Assyria; Where Love is, God Is; Too Dear! and A Spark Neglected.

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