1) Three Questions– I loved this story, for being the first thing I ever read by Tolstoy. The moral of the story here is that the current moment is the only moment you have any control over. The person you are with is the most important person at that moment, and the most important thing you can do is make that person happy, because you do not know if you will ever be with that person again, or have the chance to make them happy.
2) How Much Land Does a Man Need? – I got a chuckle out of this one. As one man works to con others out of their money, we learn that the only land a man truly needs is however much space they are going to take up when they are dead and buried. You can’t get much more true than that!
3) The Candle– Under the service of a harsh taskmaster, a group of men plot to murder their master, because it cannot be evil to God to remove such a person from the Earth, right? By being true to God, and their beliefs, one man was able to overcome the master by doing exactly what the master asked him to do. By his own goodness, he defeated the master.
4) God Sees the Truth, But Waits– A tale of mystery, the wrongly accused, and redemption. The strength of one man to forgive another who wronged him in the worst manner.
5) The Coffee House of Surat– Many men, of many nationalities, in a coffeehouse debating, and arguing, about whose religion was correct. A wise comment from a wise man puts the debate to rest.
6) The Grain as Big as a Hen’s Egg-A very short story, but very clever. The moral of the story here is that things were better, and bigger, when man was satisfied to do his own work, without taking from others, or expecting from others. As man came to depend on others to do their work for them, things got smaller, and worse.
7) Little Girls Wiser Than Men– 2 little girls have a disagreement that draws in the parents, and many other adults, to continue the argument. The little girls resolve it, move on, and go back to playing a game. The adults continue to argue over the situation, not even realizing the little girls have stopped arguing and moved on.
8) Esarhaddon, King of Assyria– A 2 paged story, showing a man at war how the evil he does to others, he is also doing to himself. Life is sacred, whether it be the life of man or beast.
9) Where Love Is, God Is– A man who loses another of many children born to him, and after losing his wife, gives up on religion, and stops attending church. He is told that he feels despair because he is living for his own happiness, and not for God. He has a dream and is told Christ will come to visit the next day. He does visit, but not like you might expect.
10) Too Dear-This story is too funny, and a must read! However it must be done, find this short story and read it. A man sentenced to execution gets one over on a whole country, and comes out ahead in the end.
11) A Spark Neglected– A good, old-fashioned neighborly fight. One that also gets out of hand, gets the whole town involved for a while, sees a terrible situation, and when one is smart enough to admit guilt, all seems to go right again in their world.
I will definitely be getting his bigger works. Have you ever ran across any of these 11 short stories?
I’ve read “The Death of Ivan Ilych” as well as #2 on your list. I liked Tolstoy. He had a way of showing the absurdities in life and putting them into perspective.
Great reviews, I like that you name the moral of the story. It tells much more about the book than a 750 word review, especially if you’re writing about Tolstoy. I’m currently in the middle of Anna Karenina. It’s more of a summer book for me so I started last summer and will hopefully finish this summer. It’s a thick novel but worth the read.