Long hailed one of the western world's greatest writers, Leo Tolstoy is best known for his novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Yet the undiminished popularity of his shorter works--including the two dozen collected here--attests to his equal prowess as a master of the story. Uncluttered by the complexities of plot and character that daunt so many readers of the longer Russian masterpieces, Tolstoy's tales illuminate eternal truths with forceful brevity. While inspired by a sense of spiritual certainty, their narrative quality, subtle humor, and visionary power life them far above the common run of "religious" literature. Moralists puport to tell us what our lives should mean, and how we should livethem. Tolstoy, on the other hand, has an uncanny gift for simply conveying what it means to be truly alive.