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The Cossacks

The Cossacks by Leo Tolstoy
By: (1828-1910)

The Cossacks (1863) is an unfinished novel which describes the Cossack life and people through a story of Dmitri Olenin, a Russian aristocrat in love with a Cossack girl. This text was acclaimed by Ivan Bunin as one of the finest in the language.

First Page:

THE COSSACKS

A Tale of 1852

By

Leo Tolstoy (1863)

Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude

Chapter I

All is quiet in Moscow. The squeak of wheels is seldom heard in the snow covered street. There are no lights left in the windows and the street lamps have been extinguished. Only the sound of bells, borne over the city from the church towers, suggests the approach of morning. The streets are deserted. At rare intervals a night cabman's sledge kneads up the snow and sand in the street as the driver makes his way to another corner where he falls asleep while waiting for a fare. An old woman passes by on her way to church, where a few wax candles burn with a red light reflected on the gilt mountings of the icons. Workmen are already getting up after the long winter night and going to their work but for the gentlefolk it is still evening.

From a window in Chevalier's Restaurant a light illegal at that hour is still to be seen through a chink in the shutter. At the entrance a carriage, a sledge, and a cabman's sledge, stand close together with their backs to the curbstone... Continue reading book >>


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