Regular price: $14.00
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for $14.00
This was more like Chekhov than anything else I've read by Tolstoy. "The Cossacks" is long on atmosphere and character, very short on plot. Dmitri Olenin forsakes Moscow society to help fight the Chechens(!) at the foot of the Caucasus mountains. The Russians and Cossacks are on one side of the Terek River, the Chechens on the other. There are skirmishes, an occasional hunting expedition (for game and humans), and one brief and violent shootout near the end. Olenin falls in love, is rejected, gains some insight, and leaves.
It's definitely not War and Peace in miniature.
But it IS a story of great warmth and beauty, and the characters are finely drawn, with Tolstoy's apparently effortless ability to penetrate their souls with a few deft phrases. Some of the descriptions of nature are breathtaking.
(Wikipedia says Tolstoy reworked the novel drastically after re-reading "The Iliad." If so, it could only have been to make something as unlike "The Iliad" as possible.)
I found Jonathan Oliver a bit strident for my taste. He's great with the dialogue: each character is clearly differentiated and the emotional tone is just right; but the narrative passages, whether public or private, tend to be voiced in the same declamatory style. (Better declamatory and audible than whispered and hard to hear, I guess; but there must be a happy medium somewhere.)
7 of 8 people found this review helpful