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The Cossacks
By Leo Tolstoy

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The Cossacks

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The Cossacks
By Leo Tolstoy
Read How You Want, (2007)
EasyRead Large Bold Edition, in 16 Point Bold Font
ISBN-13: 978-1427019608
Genre: Literature

Reviewed by Israel Drazin - April 8, 2010

There are essentially two main plots in this marvelous frequently comic tale. One describes the life of the "unspoiled" Cossacks, unlearned people, living in an almost primitive fashion, fighting against and killing neighbors, overindulgence in alcohol, womanizing, hunting, stealing, not caring for good clothing or culture, but enjoying life, living as what some people extolled as "the Noble Savage" where women ran the household and much of the business. The second is the story of a very rich young man, Olenin, who is dissatisfied with diversity of his city life and the inanities of his associates, who is searching for an alternative, who joins the army and is stationed in a Cossack village, and enjoys his simple life there. He has the romantic dream of settling in the village and like the Cossacks, marrying a Cossack wife, for all the girls seems so pretty and so merry. This is humorous, almost absurd.

There is also what can be called two subplots. One concerns a strong, very healthy, well-built Cossack, who is admired by his fellow villagers, men and women, who has shown his capability by killing an enemy soldier, even though he did so from a hidden position. The brave young man exemplifies the best of the Cossacks, to his villagers and Olenin. This Cossack has become engaged to the most beautiful girl in the village.

The second subplot is the beautiful girl, Maryanka. Tolstoy portrays her magnificently. Readers can sense her beauty and sensuality, it is almost erotic. Olenin falls in love with her and realizes that he has become a competitor with the Cossack brave. He feels certain that he and she, from two distinct cultures, can marry. It is interesting to read how a world-renowned writer portrays how Olenin acts with shyness in Maryanka’s presence and her reactions and how the two rivals for her hand participated in a disastrous battle against enemy soldiers.

The Cossacks is available from Read How You Want, an on-demand publisher that makes books available in a variety of formats including Braille, DAISY, and five different large print formats. This range of formats makes this, and other books, available not only to visually impaired individuals, but also anyone with a reading or physical disability that makes reading standard print books difficult.

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Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.


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