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, April 5, 2016

Hadji Murad by Leo Tolstoy (composed from 1896 to 1904-first published1912) - translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. 2009

"Hadji Murad  is my personal touchstone for the sublime of prose fiction, to me the best story in the world, or at least the best that I have ever read".  Harold Bloom in The Western Canon 

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I am behind in my posting due partially to a now remedied equipment issue so a few of my posts will more or less reading journal notes, until I catch up.

Having just completed "The Death of Ivan Illyich", in translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, I decided now is the time to read his novella Hadji Murad.  I have great respect  for Harold Bloom and I recalled that he considered it one of the most sublime works of all literature.  Tolstoy worked on Hadji Murad for eight years.  It was not published in full until 1917 due to imperial censorship.

Hadji Murad was a figure from 19th century Russian history, a Chehen tribal leader.  

Chencen, or as it sometimes called Chechnya, was a largely Muslim territory frequently in r volt against and always with an un say relationship with his Christian overlord, Russia.  Hadji Murad was a Muslim leader who through a complex series of maneuvers lead his people against the Russians while knowing they are too powerful to attack directly.  This is still a politically troubled part of the world.  It was very interesting to learn about the tribal society of Murad.  This is a complex story about conflicts of loyalty, personal integrity.  Murad first betrays the Russians, then his own people, he kills without remorse and is quite at home in a very violent culture.  He strictly follows his perception of Islamic dictates.  The heroes of Tolstoy's great classics are very different from Hadji Murad.  

Hadji Murad is a very powerful work of art in which the full depth of the world's greatest novelist at the end of his career, after he had repudiated much of his work in What is Art, shows through.

In Wikepedia, which has a good article on the novella, the plot is compared to Pushkin's novella, The Captain's Daughter, which I am currently reading.  

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