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Synopsis

The ten stories collected in this volume demonstrate Tolstoy's artistic prowess displayed over five decades - experimenting with prose styles and drawing on his own experiences with humour, realism and compassion. Inspired by his experiences in the army, 'The Two Hussars' contrasts a dashing father and his mean-spirited son. Illustrating Tolstoy's belief that art must serve a moral purpose, 'What Men Live By' portrays an angel sent to earth to learn three existential rules of life, and 'Two Old Men' shows a peasant abandoning his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in order to help his neighbours. And in the highly moving 'Master and Man', Tolstoy depicts a mercenary merchant travelling with his unprotesting servant through a blizzard to close a business deal - little realizing he may soon have to settle accounts with his maker.

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