In 2010 we mark the centenary of Tolstoys death with a number of Tolstoy recordings, starting with The Cossacks. Naxos AudioBooks has developed a strong association with Tolstoys writing, best represented by our landmark recording of the unabridged War and Peace.Dissatisfied with his life of frivolity among the aristocracy of Moscow, young Dmitri Andreyevitch Olénin sets out for the Caucasus region. Here, among the natural beauty of his surroundings and the honest and industrious peasant people, Olénin hopes to obtain a more meaningful existence. Yet Olénin is marked out as an outsider from the very beginning, and his ill-fated passion for Maryanka, who is betrothed to a local hero, does little to ingratiate himself with this society. This beautifully articulated novel of self-discovery, youthful idealism and romance is read with great sympathy by Jonathan Oliver.
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When you think of Tolstoy, you most likely think of his epic novels, like Anna Karenina or War and Peace. You probably don't think of his shorter pieces like The Cossacks, a shorter novella that is considered to be the author's autobiography. The book centers around an unhappy Muscovite nobleman named Dmitri Olénin who joins the army in search of adventure and purpose in his life. He winds up in the Caucasus and is intrigued by the geography and the simple people who live there. Along the way, he discovers himself and falls in love for the first time, and in turn discovers the pain love can bring. We meet a cast of characters that includes the manly Cossack soldier Lukashka, the beautiful Cossack girl Maryanka, and the larger-than-life grandfather figure, Uncle Yeroshka, each of who play an important role in the life education of Olénin. Since this has always been one of my favorite books, I was curious to see how it translated into the audiobook format. The voice work is done by Jonathan Oliver, an English actor who has over a decade of experience reading audiobooks for the blind. At first, I was a little thrown by his English accent, as I know many Russians personally, and I always lent a Russian accent to The Cossacks characters in my mind. But as the story progressed, I got used to Oliver's accent and it became very natural sounding, as he took on the life of the characters. He also did a wonderful job of changing out his vocal style as each different character spoke, making it easy to tell who was speaking as the conversations took place. I especially liked his portrayal of Uncle Yeroshka, the colorful old man of the Cossack village who takes Olénin under his wing. Oliver's voice bellows and rings out with intensity, bringing the character to life in incredible fashion. Oliver is obviously very familiar with the story as well as Tolstoy in general, and he adds touches here and there to make the story even more special. For example, he reads the descriptive sections with the same enthusiasm as the speaking roles, painting a perfect picture of the Cossack village and the activities of its inhabitants as they go about daily life. He also sings their songs with a convincing air, staying in character the whole time. As far as classic literature goes, this one is an easy listen. It is not too long, and the story moves quickly, filled with adventure and a touch of innocent romance. Plus, it is a great introduction to Tolstoy without getting lost in the epic length of some of his other works. Highly recommended. --MISH MASH, http://mishmashmusic.blogspot.com/About the Author:
Peter Constantine, winner of a PEN Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize and a National Translation Award, has earned wide acclaim for his translation of the complete works of Isaac Babel. His Modern Library translations include Gogol s Taras Bulba and Voltaire s Candide. Cynthia Ozick is the celebrated author of many novels, including The Shawl, The Puttermesser Papers, and Heir to the Glimmering World, and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for her essay collection Quarrel & Quandary
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Book Description Penguin Classics, 1961. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0140441093