Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"God Sees the Truth But Waits" by Leo Tolstoy

"God Sees the Truth But Waits" by Leo Tolstoy (1889, 10 pages, translated by Constance Garnett)

Since my blog began in July 2009 I have read and posted on four minor works by Leo Tolstoy (1828 to 1910-Russia).    Tolstoy is the world's greatest novelist.   This is the value judgement of the literary world.    In addition to his huge novels he also wrote a number of parable like short stories such as "Ivan the Fool" and "Papa Panov's Special Christmas"    You are depriving your self of a real pleasure and passing up on some strong does of sublime wisdom if you never read the short stories of Tolstoy.

How can one really not be drawn to read a short story titled "God Sees The Truth But Waits"?    Admittedly this is not the title a writer with a weak ego gives to one of his works but this reads like something out of the wisdom books of the one the world's great religions.

The plot is simple.   It shows Tolstoy had a deep empathy for the huge masses of poor in late Czarist Russia and a fervent desire for social justice.   The central character in the story is a simple working man (maybe Tolstoy does romanticise the peasants and Maxim Gorky is your corrective force here) with a wife and children.    He is framed for a robbery and murder.   A bloody knife is planted on him and his hands are smeared in blood when he is found by the police.   He even has a small bit of money from the wallet of the victim in his pocket.   To compress a bit,  the story skips 25 years ahead  to a Siberian prison camp where the man is now aged way beyond his years.    A new set of prisoners arrives and one of them is from home town.   He asks the man of news of his family.   It turns out they have prospered and he is not even remembered by his children.   To tell the story a bit, it turns out the man is the one who really was the murderer and who framed him years ago.   He tells this story in a boasting way to other prisoners when they give their histories.   He has no idea that his victim is there.    

The action of the story moves forward rapidly from this point and I will leave it untold.  

You can read the story online here if you like.

Mel u


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

That is a very interesting story. I'm going to find out what happens in the end. It looks tailor-made for a Bollywood or Hollywood movie, if there isn't one already.

Mel u said...

Prashant Trikannad. This could make a very good movie if one built more on the details of the lives of the charcters. Thanks always for your comments

Luana said...

mel u, I just found out your blog and I'm completely amazed by it.

Your taste in literature is terrific, I'm going to be here now everyday reading your reviews :)

I'm brazilian, so I must ask - do you have any interest in brazilian literature?

I have a few books of brazilian authors translated to english (I bought them mostly out of curiosity, to see if the translations were good), and I'll love to see you reviewing some of them :)

Anyways, another think I want to ask - I recognize only a few authors on your collage. Do you have a list of them - or could you make one here on the comments?

Thank you and congrats on the blog!

Risa said...

I recall reading this when I was in school and I was so moved by it. Every time I read it I cried!

Mel u said...

Luanna. I have posted on four authors from Brazil. You can find links to the posts by searching in my search bar in the right sidebar about in the middle of the page. I will post a text file soon giving the names of the authors in the collage. I would like to chat with you about Brazilian literture. Please e mail me at

Mel u said...

Risa. It is a very moving story for sure

Emidy @ Une Parole said...

Oh, I like the sound of this. I've read Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, but never one of his short stories. Thanks for posting this!