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”Tolstoy’s lavish and always graphic use of detail,” wrote John Bayley, “together of course with its romance and exotic setting . . . has made The Cossacks the most popular of all his works.” This vibrant new translation of Tolstoy’s 1862 novel, by PEN Translation Award winner Peter Constantine, is the author’s semiautobiographical depiction of young Olenin, a wealthy, disaffected Muscovite, who joins the Russian army and travels to the untamed frontier of the Caucasus in search of a more authentic life. Quartered with his regiment in a Cossack village, Olenin revels in the glories of nature and the rough strength of the Cossacks and Chechens. Smitten by his unrequited love for a local girl, Maryanka, Olenin has a profound but ultimately short-lived spiritual awakening. Try as he might to assimilate, he remains an awkward outsider and his long search for a more enlightened and purposeful existence comes to naught.
With the philosophical insight that would characterize Tolstoy’s later masterpieces, this long overdue major new translation is a revelation.
Praise for Peter Constantine's translation of Tolstoy's The Cossacks...
"After reading Tolstoy's The Cossacks, Virginia Woolf wrote of the 'shock' of his 'genius . . . [I]t is hard to imagine that he can ever be surpassed.' Peter Constantine has produced a fresh, crisp, eminently readable translation of Tolstoy's classic work, one that is sure to bring home to the reader the depth and mastery of the world's greatest novelist. The Cossacks is a work to read and re-read. Constantine provides a much needed, up-to-date translation."
—Robert Louis Jackson, B.E. Bensinger Professor Emeritus Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University
"Peter Constantine's stirring translation makes this timely Russian classic a truly good read."
—Cathy Popkin, Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
“Peter Constantine’s fine new translation of The Cossacks conveys Tolstoy’s voice with an inevitability that demonstrates yet again why Mr. Constantine is one of our most acute translators. Not only does he convey Tolstoy’s purposeful, straight-ahead style, but he recreates each character distinctive language and personality. Thanks to Mr. Constantine’s subtle ear, the reader can appreciate Tolstoy’s nuanced palette of Russian, Chechen, and Cossack. Tolstoy’s nineteenth-century tale, beautifully timeless and now unerringly retranslated, could not be timelier for the twenty-first-century reader.”
—Marian Schwartz, past president, American Literary Translator’s Association