Famous for epic novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy also wrote psychologically adept, morally engaged short stories like "Master and Man".
Tolstoy’s 1895 story concerns a journey taken by a landowner with one of his serfs into town, where the wealthy landowner will complete a business transaction. The two are caught in a blizzard. It’s in this crisis that the "Master" is confronted with a revelation about humanity’s true purpose in life.
With his ringing voice, Walter Zimmerman offers a crisp, intelligent performance of this Russian master’s humanist parable.
Tolstoy is know primarily for his epic novels like War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but he also wrote a number of excellent short pieces that carry the same kind of themes on a much smaller scale. Two of the best are Master and Man and The Death of Ivan Ilych.
In the story, a land owner named Vasili Andreevich Brekhunov takes along one of his peasants, Nikita, for a short journey to the house of the owner of a forest. He is impatient and wishes to get to the town more quickly to purchase the forest before other contenders can get there. They find themselves in the middle of a blizzard, but the master in his avarice wishes to press on. They eventually get lost off the road and they try to camp. The master's peasant soon finds himself suffering from hypothermia.
The master attains a spiritual and moral revelation, and Tolstoy once again repeats one of his famous themes: that the only true happiness in life is found by living for others as the master acts a way he never thought was possible.
(P)1981 Jimcin Recordings
I think this author was an amazing thinker in his time. I should say he was ahead of his time. He writes this story as if he was there or this telling were part of his experience.
He nails the thinking of the characters as one who might have know them. I felt bad about the horse in the end.
The foolishness and the arrogance of the man in charge does not escape my own thoughts about some of the people I have met, not willing to listen to reason. It was amazing to see someone who was living in such an environment and should have understood the danger, but so full of himself that he ignored all the tell tale signs. He did vindicate his main character in the end in a very dramatic way. Tolstoy, one of the best writers ever.
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