(PUBZondervan)Never before translated! Part of a larger anthology entitled The Sunday Reading Stories, this book was suppressed by the Bolsheviks. As the last major work of one of the literary titans of the 19th century, these brief fictional tales are designed to help us think through the implications of our faith. 352 pages, hardcover.
Divine and Human stands apart as both a landmark in literary history and master-piece of spiritual and ethical reflection. Suppressed in turn by the tzarist and Soviet regime, the tales contained in this book have, for the most part, never been published in English until now. Emerging at last, they offer western readers fresh glimpses of novelist and philosopher Leo Tolstoy. Divine and Human consists of choice selections from The Sunday Reading Stories, the second volume in a two-part work titled The Circle of Reading. In the words of translator Peter Sekirin, "Tolstoy considered The Circle of Reading to be the major work of his life. Considering its difficult history, it is not surprising that only recently has it been rediscovered." From its sparkling vignettes to its lengthier stories, Divine and Human probes the complexities of life and faith. Its characters range the spectrum of human emotions and qualities, from hatred to love and joy to grief; from sublime nobility to grotesque self-absorption. Tolstoy's world, though far-removed from today's information age, becomes our world -- indeed, has always been and always will be our world. Motor cars may have replaced horse-drawn cars, but human hearts remain the same, and questions of truth, mercy, forgiveness, devotion, justice, and the nature of God knock as insistently on the doors of our lives today as they did in Tolstoy's time. Welcome, then, to Divine and Human: a buried treasure at last unearthed, and certain to be prized by Tolstoy readers and lovers of great literature.
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian nobleman, philosopher, and novelist, authored such classic works as Anna Karenina and War and Peace.
Peter Sekirin was born in Russia. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Kiev, Ukraine, where he served as associate professor for several years. In December 1999 Peter obtained his Ph.D. in Russian literature at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Dostoevsky Archive, the English translator for Tolstoy's Calendar of Wisdom, and has written numerous articles for Linguistics and History of Literature. He resides in Toronto, Ontario.
Russian writer Leo, or Lev, Tolstoy wrote a number of unpretentious and
straightforward stories with a plain Christian moral for primary school
children. Sekirin, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto, has
translated 16 such tales. Some appear here in English for the first time, and
some can be found in Tolstoy's Twenty-Three Tales, translated by Louise and
Aylmer Maude (1975). Tolstoy did not originate all of these stories, though
they did come from his pen: he often rewrote or adapted stories from such
diverse writers as Victor Hugo, Nokolai Leskov, and Guy de Maupassant. All the
tales, however, show the hand of the Master; Tolstoy is unsurpassed in making
his point by letting the facts speak for themselves. Sekirin's translation
reads more easily than the Maudes' volume and uses simpler grammar. Though the
stories have literary value, they aim primarily at religious readers.
Recommended for public and church libraries.DBert Beynen, Des Moines Area Comm.
Coll. Lib., IA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
These 16 selections from Tolstoy's final eclectic collection of tales titled
The Sunday Reading Stories represent the Russian novelist's turn away from the
troubling human condition in Anna Karenina toward a growing preoccupation with
moral issues. Some are brief vignettes, like "The Archangel Gabriel," "The
Repentant Sinner" and "The Son of a Thief," in which a prospective juror
disqualifies himself because he cannot sit in judgment on a thief when his own
father committed the same crime. Several of the stories are
adaptations--"Stones," from a fable by E. Poselianin; "The Power of Childhood,"
from Victor Hugo's "The Civil War"; and "Sisters," a poignant retelling of Guy
de Maupassant's "In the Port," about a sailor's shore leave at Marseilles.
"Divine and Human," set in 1870s Russia at a peak of struggle between the
government and revolutionaries, centers around student Anatoly Svetlogub, who
is convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government and spends his final
days reading the New Testament. With the exception of a few entries, this is
the first English translation of these pieces, which were suppressed first by
the czarist government and then by the Soviets. Hardly controversial in the
eyes of contemporary American readers, these selections are not particularly
noteworthy as critiques of either aristocracy or communism, but rather as
lovely artifacts that give us further insight into Tolstoy's notions of wisdom
and spirituality. Though this book is published by an evangelical house, the
fragments of Tolstoyan theology Sekirin has chosen for it are best described as
universalist. All in all, it is a delightful addition to any Tolstoy collection
or a fine introduction to his work. (May) FYI: Coincidentally, Northwestern
University Press is issuing its own translation of three of the stories
included in the Zondervan edition, in a volume also titled Divine and Human.
"Berries," "What For?" (titled "Why Did It Happen?" in the Zondervan edition)
and "Divine and Human" are translated and introduced by Gordon Spence. Spence's
introduction stresses the political import and allegory of the tales, all three
of which were written around the time of the Russian revolution of 1905. All
the royalties from the publication of Northwestern's edition will go to Amnesty
International. ($16.95 paper 168p ISBN 0-8101-1762-2; June) Copyright 2000
Cahners Business Information.