Leo Tolstoy was a renowned writer of the nineteenth century, yet only three of his works are discussed. He had written more than forty short stories, including novellas. His works like ‘War and Peace,’ ‘Anna Karenina,’ and ‘The Death of Ivan Ilych’ have won a lot of widespread acclaim. Simultaneously, he was a little bit criticized for the novella ‘The Kreutzer Sonata.’ Moving beyond these popular stories are his various other exemplary stories, including ‘The Forged Coupon.’
This novella is never counted among his popular works, yet for me, reading it was an amazing experience, maybe more than reading some of his other popular stories. This particular novella is appealing as it includes both mystery and predictability together. This is predictable as, like his other stories, it also focuses on the cause and consequence of human deeds. But simultaneously, as the novella establishes a very long chain of events involving different characters, one would be kept interested by connecting those characters.
Moreover, by the end of this novella, one may find the domino effect law taking place. Isn’t it interesting that a man such as Leo Tolstoy, who believed that life takes place in particularities, has been suggesting a law by picking up on those particularities?
Leo Tolstoy was popular both for his writing style as well as his philosophical stance towards life. After he had written ‘War and Peace’, he was considered a champion of realist fiction. Later on, the success of ‘The Death of Ivan Ilych’ turned him into an existentialist. His personality was such that the moment people thought they had figured out his outlook towards things, they encountered something new and baffling.
For example, in some of the stories, he presents women in a manner that discloses his feminist streaks. Still, there comes ‘ The Kreutzer Sonata,’ a story which, while exposing the hypocritical nature of society concerning women and men, sets loathsome principles for women and makes women themselves responsible for their suffering in the society.
Similarly, while he denounced the aristocratic or worldly pleasures of life, his stories create ideas of ‘good servant’ and ‘good master,’ thus sustaining the gulf between rich and poor. Not just this, he had gone ahead and suggested that the life of a peasant or we can say, that of a poor peasant is an idealistic life, which needs to be emulated by everyone (as in the novella ‘Ivan the Fool). He believed that a rich man could not achieve salvation, and hence he gave up his wealth and other pleasures and began to live like a peasant.
Whatsoever, through his stories and philosophy, he was able to influence many people, including Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. His stories urge people to uphold the ‘goodness’ in them and become reflective of their deeds. More than anything else, his stories need to be read as they calm one’s mind and inspire one’s heart.