Master and Man
By Leo Tolstoy
Read How You Want, (2006)
EasyRead Large Print Edition
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - March 29, 2010Ayn Rand, in her The Art of Fiction, called Tolstoy "the archetype of a naturalist," a writer who describes events, but offers "only one layer of motivation." The writer who is "romantic" is better. He looks "not only at the immediate onion skin, but (examines motivation) as deep as the author can go." Other critiques disagree and consider Tolstoy one of the world's greatest writers. They may think that Tolstoy does not delve deep into character, but they do not see this as a negative. Despite her critique, Ayn Rand would probably agree that Man and Master is a very interesting short novel.
While its title indicates that the tale concerns two people, actually there is a third, the master's horse. The master thinks that he far smarter than his servant and nearly everyone else, including his wife. He cheats everybody, thinking they do not understand what he is doing, but he only succeeds because he is the master, not because of his wit. He takes his servant with him to buy land and cheat the seller, but gets lost several times because he thinks he knows directions. Actually the servant knows more than he does and the horse knows more than both of them.
Readers will leave the tale, as they leave all well-written stories, with many questions and their own answers. This is how good literature should excite us. What did the master learn from this experience? Did it really change his behavior and his attitude to life and to people and to money? And what about the peasant, was his life pathetic? Did the fact that he always had a good and happy reaction to everything make his life less pathetic? Is Tolstoy's portrayal of the three beings only a superficial glance at an onion skin or is the story multi layered and quite thought provoking? Does a writer have to point out everything, or are we expected to see some things ourselves?Master and Man 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.
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.