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“Each phase of life has its own love” In these four stories, Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910) depicts desire in its different manifestations – from idealistic romance to sexual jealousy, from desperate lust to relentless longing. Family Happiness, an early work, portrays the struggles of a couple as they move from courtship and passion through disillusionment to the quieter stage of married love. A passenger tells a bitter tale of sex, suspicion and murder when strangers on a train discuss the nature of love in The Kruetzer Sonata, a novella banned for its scandalous content in 1890. In The Devil, a young man finds it impossible to resist a beautiful peasant woman with whom he had an affair before his marriage, while Father Sergius shows a man going to increasingly desperate ends – from a soldier to monk, to hermit to beggar – in order to avoid the temptations of the flesh. The translations by David McDuff and Paul Foote faithfully convey Tolstoy’s candid, vigorous prose. This edition also includes a new introduction by Donna Orwin discussing Tolstoy’s depiction of love and sex in these works, as well as a chronology, further reading and notes.
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