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Childhood Relié – 1962
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
They both received unmatched education by
today's standards . It produced two of the
When people think of Nineteenth Century Russian Literature as whole, names like Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Chekhov come to mind. "Crime and Punishment", "Eugene Onegin" and "The Cherry Orchard" are works we might randomly associate with the novel, the narrative-poem and the plays of the great Russian masters.
Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth is that work which stands on the periphery, not only of Tolstoy's works but also of Russian literature in general. It feels Russian, the characters are Russians but the influences come from French literature (Rousseau) and Germany (Schiller, Goethe). There is a Bildungsroman element but I wouldn't want to label it a novel of development. There is also something more. Feeling, wonder, innocence, they too appear in the French and Germanic influences but there is also a great deal of sensation (a "novel of sensation"?). Reading this book, I could feel the narrator's home, I could feel his emotions. It is a work that explores the visceral aspects of being young, growing up and trying to find one's way in society.
Tolstoy's work often carry a great philosophical and moral weight. He was heavily influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer and his theories about the "will-to-live" and the endless cravings of "desire". Not only that, he was reading up on the works of the Shakers, their celibacy stance. The Kreuzer Sonata and The Devil are essentially works in which Tolstoy is maddened with lust and morality.
Here, you could say is the lighter Tolstoy, a Tolstoy of impressions, beauty, and tender emotions. There is no moralizing or foreboding, no fear of judgment, no murdering of wives. It is novel that looks forward to Proust in its dreamlike presentation of being young. While reading this book I felt like I disappeared into the child I once was and still am. A true hidden treasure and also the perfect example of how all Russian literature is not necessarily dark and murky.
Tolstoy was born in 1828 and he was in his twenties when he wrote this early work. He his famous for detailed physical descriptions combined with emotional drama. For example, read that wonderul short story Master and Man that combines those two elements. The present work has the detailed descriptions but lacks the emotional appeal and lacks the great characters that we see in other works, i.e.: a crying youth because he is humiliated is hardly a great emotional experienece.
Tolstoy remains as one of the leading writers of novels. His impressive legacy includes three of four monumental works including War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and the novella The Death of Ivan Ilych. According to his own estimate, he has over 400 works - as he describes in one of his non-fiction works.
Tolstoy's writing can be divided into three phases: the early years up to 1860 to 1861, the mid-career years from approximately 1861 to 1890, and his final years when he turned to non-fiction polemics. His most important fiction was written in the middle period, and it started with the release of The Cossacks in 1863. That story contains emotional elements and descriptions similar to what we read in Anna Karenina. His writings before The Cossacks contains his famous detail but lacks the same level of drama and emotion.
The present work is a good example of his early work pre-1961. Tostoy follows a Gogol like approach to produce a lengthy and detailed account of a young man growing up. The narrative is about a young man living in rural Russia. He goes on to attend university in Moscow and he is the son of a landowner as was Tolstoy himself. The story covers the boy's experiences from around the age of ten to the age of twenty. The character is based on one of Tolstoy's childhood friends and includes other characters based on real people that he knew. The story is a work of fiction. Tolstoy's own father died when he was still young as did his mother who died before his father.
This is a very slow read. It took me a week on and off to get through 314 pages in small font. Readers should not confuse this work with his famous works that came in his mid-career. The prose is excellent, especially the description of the thunderstorm about one third of the way into the book, but the story lacks drama and charm. Considering the author and his complete body of work, this is just 4 stars among the stories by Tolstoy.
As a side note, this is a beautifully bound hardcover book.