Selected Stories of Leo Tolstoy
Even though Tolstoy is best known for his lengthy novels, he wrote many fine short stories as well. This study considers three of those stories. "How Much Land Does a Man Need" is a moral tale that studies the effects of materialism and the desire to have "just a little bit more." The theme centers on man's attempt to take more than he can reach and to find security in things rather than in humility. "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" (Ivan Ilyich is the same as "John Smith" in the United States) is about the ordinary life and death of an ordinary man. The story is thought-provoking because readers are reminded often of their own mortality. "The Kreutzer Sonata" is a study of the function of marriage. This is a griping tale, not because it is full of action (the entire story is told in a train car), but because the reader will be trapped, like the listener on the train, to keep reading to learn what happened. The theme of imaginary jealousy and its consequences makes this story one of the best.