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The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy - Russian Literature Book Club Meet-up in Londo...
Thu 4 May 2017, 18:30 – 20:00 BST
In our May meet-up, we're going to discuss a short story by Leo Tolstoy, a famous author of "War and peace" and "Anna Karenina". His short stories though seem to be less known outside of Russia.
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 morally corrupt experience 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.
We're going to discuss the book, the context of the events at the time in Russia and what we may learn about Russians from this piece of writing. The discussion is going to be informal, in English (you're welcome to read the book in any language). There's been a suggestion each of us reads a favourite passage from the book - so be prepared.:-)
You're welcome to bring tea or coffee (or juice, or kvas) with you, we'll have some biscuits. After the meet-up those who'd like to chat in even more informal setting can go to a cafe or pub nearby.