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Hadji Murad by Leo Tolstoy

Hadji Murad

by Leo Tolstoy

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English (14)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Okay, that was pointless.
  liveshipvivacia | Apr 26, 2014 |
Okay, that was pointless.
  liveshipvivacia | Apr 26, 2014 |
Hadji Murat feels like an epic read in spite of its relative brevity.
The story contains portents for our modern era especially in understanding historic grievances between the Caucasus and Russia, Islam and Christianity, which have survived the Communist Soviet era. This tale of power and brutality,subterfuge and corruption, personal and military loyalties divided or switched in unlikely and unholy alliances depending upon who needs what most and when, kidnappings, human shields, sham religiosity, and so on resonates strongly today only the cult of personality, with princes and tsars inspiring military loyalty, was stronger pre World War 1 than the nationhood which supercedes it today especially with the demises of dictatorship.
Tolstoy even manages to throw in romantic interludes with the rugged and elegant rebel dangerously and familiarly attractive to the otherwise loyal concubines.
Ultimately it is a personal story which ends in sheer futility and the lesson that nothing changes so long as bad and morally weak men can inspire loyalty to the death in return for power and influence.
Although at times I found keeping up with the various factions a little difficult and re read many passages for clarification, the book had my attention throughout and what I believe was the desired effect. ( )
1 vote DekeDastardly | Jul 29, 2013 |
Hadji Murad is the last book written by Count Leo Tolstoy before his death.

It's a sympathetic portrait of a real life Chechnyan Freedom Fighter going toe to toe with the Russian invaders (and his own tribal politics) circa 1850 in the Caucasus. It does not end well.

The author begins the work with a little story about finding a brightly colored thistle in the fields, cut and broken by the reaper, but still standing proudly. It is the theme of the work - the individual standing upright and proud even under adversity. OK.

So why did it leave me so cold? Maybe just that Hadji Murad is such a good and noble guy that he just ain't that interesting.

And the comic set pieces about the Russian army in the fields - drinking, gambling, shuffling paperwork - seem rushed and formulaic and fails to engage. Usually Tolstoy is better at it than this.

Perhaps we're meant to see the "Savage" tribesman as more civilized than the Western cultured Russians. OK.

Tolstoy has written a lot of amazing books. He's entitled to take a Mulligan on this one.

Read for a Book Circle. ( )
  magicians_nephew | Jun 28, 2013 |
Book Circle Reads 160


Author: [[LEO TOLSTOY]]

Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: In [Hadji Murat], Tolstoy recounts the extraordinary meeting of two polarized cultures--the refined, Europeanized court of the Russian tsar and the fierce Muslim chieftains of the Chechen hills. This brilliant, culturally resonant fiction was written towards the end of Tolstoy's life, but the conflict it describes has obvious, ironic parallels with current affairs today.

It is 1852, and Hadji Murat, one of the most feared mountain chiefs, is the scourge of the Russian army. When he comes to surrender, the Russians are delighted. Or have they naively welcomed a double-agent into their midst? With its sardonic portraits--from the inscrutable Hadji Murat to the fat and bumbling tsar--Tolstoy's story is an astute and witty commentary on the nature of political relations and states at war. Leo Tolstoy is one of the world's greatest writers. Best known for his brilliantly crafted epic novels [War and Peace] and [Anna Karenina], he used his works to address the problems of Russian society, politics, and traditions.

My Review: Flat prose exposing the bones of a story better told in the Wikipedia entry on Hadji Murad, the historical Avar leader.

The story was among Tolstoy's papers at his death. Louise Shanks Maude, the wife of Tolstoy's good friend and primary translator of non-fiction Aylmer Maude, included Hadji Murad in their 21-volume Oxford University Press edition of the Collected Works of Tolstoy. The Maudes were Fenians, communal-living enthusiasts, and both came from English families firmly rooted in Russia. This constellation of characteristics made them uniquely sympathetic to Tolstoy's rather unusual social views.

Louise Maude did no service to Tolstoy's memory by publishing this story after Tolstoy's death. His own attitude towards the work, based on his correspondence, seems to have focused more on finishing it and with it putting a flourish on his life-long argument with the deterministic world he saw about him. Tragedy being inevitable, Tolstoy takes the historical tale of Hadji Murad (known to him from his service to Russia in the Caucasus) and presents an honorable man's desperate struggle to escape the inescapable fate awaiting him: Death in the attempt to save his beloved family from death, which they will suffer anyway because of his foredoomed death attempting to save them from death.

How Russian.

There's a very involving tale here. What there isn't is a novel or novella of any satisfying substance. The story as it's published reads more like notes towards a novel. The action and the characters are crudely carved from Tolstoy's accustomed fine marble, but lack any fine detail and indeed are only partially revealed; most of the work needed to create a memorable character is left to the imagination of the reader. That it can be done at all is down to the artist's eye for good materials that Tolstoy possessed, refined by a long lifetime's work.

What a pity that its audience isn't legally confined to Tolstoy scholars. ( )
1 vote richardderus | Jun 27, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (57 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leo Tolstoyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kosloff, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
I was returning home by the fields. It was midsummer; the hay
harvest was over, and they were just beginning to reap the rye.
At that season of the year there is a delightful variety of flowers—
red white and pink scented tufty clover; milk-white oxeye
daisies with their bright yellow centres and pleasant spicy
smell; yellow honey-scented rape blossoms; tall campanulas
with white and lilac bells, tulip-shaped; creeping vetch; yellow
red and pink scabious; plantains with faintly-scented neatlyarranged
purple, slightly pink-tinged blossoms; cornflowers,
bright blue in the sunshine and while still young, but growing
paler and redder towards evening or when growing old; and
delicate quickly-withering almond-scented dodder flowers.
Last words
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Late in life, Tolstoy returned to story-telling with an episode in the Russian campaign to quell Chechnya in which he had participated in the 1840s. Although he was not an eyewitness, his narrative tells the story of a real Chechen hero among the Russians, seeking help to reclaim his leadership role. Along the way, we visit Chechen villages, Russian camps, the Tsar himself, Hadji Murad among the Russians, and, finally, the conclusion of the escapade.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812967119, Paperback)

In 1851 Leo Tolstoy enlisted in the Russian army and was sent to the Caucasus to help defeat the Chechens. During this war a great Avar chieftain, Hadji Murád, broke with the Chechen leader Shamil and fled to the Russians for safety. Months later, while attempting to rescue his family from Shamil’s prison, Hadji Murád was pursued by those he had betrayed and, after fighting the most heroic battle of his life, was killed.

Tolstoy, witness to many of the events leading to Hadji Murád’s death, set down this story with painstaking accuracy to preserve for future generations the horror, nobility, and destruction inherent in war.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:59 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Tells the story of Hadji Murad, a Muslim warrior of the Caucasus, caught between the Russians and the Chechens in 1851-1852.

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Voland Edizioni

An edition of this book was published by Voland Edizioni.

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