About The Cossacks short novel by Leo Tolstoy
Free eBook The Cossacks is a short novel by Leo Tolstoy
The Cossacks is believed to be somewhat autobiographical, partially based on Tolstoy's experiences in the Caucasus during the last stages of the Caucasian War. Tolstoy had a wild time in his youth, engaging in numerous promiscuous partners, heavy drinking and gambling problems; many argue Tolstoy used his own past as inspiration for the protagonist Olenin.
Disenchanted with his privileged life in Russian society, nobleman Dmitri Olenin joins the army as a cadet, in the hopes of escaping the superficiality of his daily life. On a quest to find "completeness," he naively hopes to find serenity among the "simple" people of the Caucasus. In an attempt to immerse himself in the local culture, he befriends an old man. They drink wine, curse, and hunt pheasant and boar in the Cossack tradition, and Olenin even begins to dress in the manner of a Cossack. He forgets himself and falls in love with the young Maryanka, in spite of her fiancé Lukashka. While spending life as a Cossack, he learns lessons about his own inner life, moral philosophy, and the nature of reality. He also understands the intricacies of human psychology and nature.
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