Childhood, Boyhood, Youth (Classics)

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9780140441390: Childhood, Boyhood, Youth (Classics)

The artistic work of Leo Tolstoy has been described as 'nothing less than one tremendous diary kept for over fifty years'. This particular 'diary' begins with Tolstoy's first published work, Childhood, which was written when he was only twenty-three. A semi-autobiographical work, it recounts two days in the childhood of ten-year-old Nikolai Irtenev, recreating vivid impressions of people, place and events with the exuberant perspective of a child enriched by the ironic retrospective understanding of an adult. Boyhood and Youth soon followed, and Tolstoy was launched on the literary career that would bring him immortality.

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Review:

Tolstoy's first published work, Childhood, is unquestionably one of his most engaging and profound narratives, and he followed it in short order with the other two parts of the trilogy. We have several competent English translations, but none of them comes close to matching Judson Rosengrant's in capturing the young writer's astonishing precision, stylistic variety, and range of moods [...] The introduction breaks new critical ground in presenting Tolstoy's language and thought. The deft, unpretentious annotations are the most thorough in any English-language edition. I cannot think of a better place to start for new readers of Tolstoy, or a more insightful, enjoyable refresher for experienced Tolstoyans (William Mills Todd III, Harvard University)

This superb new translation of the early trilogy, intelligently introduced, is a miracle of persuasive storytelling (Caryl Emerson, Princeton University)

Judson Rosengrant's stunning new translation of Leo Tolstoy's first literary masterpiece reveals the Russian novelist's talent in all its startling and visionary originality [...] Rosengrant's Childhood, Boyhood, Youth is an example of the art of translation at its finest, combining critical acumen, a specialist's understanding of Tolstoy's art, and a profound sympathy with the original's subtle narrative 'moods,' shifting melodies of language, and deployment of stylistic registers. Thanks to Rosengrant's passionate respect for the integrity of the text and the power of the precisely chosen word to illuminate experience, Tolstoy has found an English voice worthy of his own. (Lena M Lencek, Reed College)

About the Author:

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before travelling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879-82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home 'leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude'; dying some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.

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