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August 10 , 2008

A Russian Proprietor and other Stories


The following tales are, with one exception, taken from the second volume of Count L. N. Tolstoï's collected works, and are representative of his literary activity between 1852 and 1859. The first story, though only a fragment of a projected novel to be called "A Russian Proprietor," is perfect and complete in itself. One cannot help feeling that it is autobiographical; Count Tolstoï himself, it will be remembered, having suddenly quitted the University of Kazan, in spite of the entreaties of his friends, and retired to his paternal estate of Yasnaya Polyana, near Tula. The aunt whose letter is quoted in the first chapter must have been Count Tolstoï's aunt, mentioned in the second chapter of "My Confession." The "Recollections of a Scorer" and "Two Hussars" are both evidently reminiscent of Count Tolstoï's gambling-days. Both must have been suggested by some such terrible experience as that told of the count's gambling-debt in the Caucasus. "Lucerne" and "Albert" are likewise evidently transcripts from the author's own experience. The strange benefactor in each, and the shadowy Prince Nekhliudof, are all Count Tolstoï in phases quite distinct from what he is at present

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