My Favourite Short Story-5 : ‘How Much Land Does A Man Need’ by Leo Tolstoy

“How Much Land Does a Man Need? is an 1886 short story by Leo Tolstoy about a man who, in his lust for land, forfeits everything, including his own life. Late in life, James Joyce called it the greatest short story ever written.

After slowly accumulating more and more property, a greedy Russian named Pahom hears that the Bashkirs, a minority race in Russia, are practically giving their land away. He decides to visit them and they offer him as much land as he wants, provided he can walk its perimeter in one day. Pahom agrees and goes out on his trek, but when the sun starts to set, he finds he has walked too far. Running back, Pahom collapses at the starting point just as the sun disappears behind the horizon. The Bashkirs try to congratulate him, only to find him dead. In answer to the question posed in the title, the Bashkirs bury him in a hole six feet long by two feet wide.

Anton Chekhov, one of Tolstoy’s greatest admirers, retorted: “It is a common saying that a man needs only six feet of earth. But six feet is what a corpse needs, not a man… Man needs not six feet of earth, not a farm, but the whole globe, all of nature, where unhindered he can display all the capacities and peculiarities of his free spirit.” (Wikipedia)

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My Favourite Short Story-4 : ‘The Gift of the Magi’ by O.Henry

This charming tale of love and mutual sacrifice of husband and wife is one of my favourites. Actually, this is the first story of O.Henry I read. This prompted me to read his other stories. A thoroughly enjoyable story in today’s troubled times and broken homes. I induced my daughter to do a comparative study of ‘The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry’ and ‘Where Love is, God is’ by Leo Tolstoy for her M.A.dissertation.

To read the story: http://www.online-literature.com/o_henry/1014/
Works of O.Henry at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/h
Discussion on the story: http://classiclit.about.com/cs/articles/a/aa_giftofmagi.htm
Bio of O.Henry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O._Henry

My Favourite Short Story-3 : ‘The Blind Man’ by Guy de Maupassant

This is a short story of Maupassant from ‘A Comedy of Marriage and Other Tales’. Thanks to Project Gutenberg, I could read and enjoy it and now am able to share with everybody. It is the ninth tale in the book. You may want read this book, which is just a click away: http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8cmar10.txt
Bio of Maupassant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_de_Maupassant

My Favourite Short Story-2 : ‘Vanka’ by Anton Chekhov

I am a great admirer of Anton Chekhov. I have read his short stories and plays many times. He is one of the greatest short story writers of the world. I have read only the English translations. To those who can read them in the original Russian version, his writings should be even more enjoyable. I am in total agreement of the following views on Chekhov’s writings by Thomas Seltzer.

“Chekhov’s works show an astounding resourcefulness and versatility.There is no monotony, no repetition. Neither in incident nor in character are any two stories alike. The range of Chekhov’s knowledge of men and things seems to be unlimited, and he is extravagant in the use of it. Some great idea which many a writer would consider sufficient to expand into a whole novel he disposes of in a story of a few pages. Take, for example, ‘Vanka’, apparently but a mere episode in the childhood of a nine-year-old boy; while it is really the tragedy of a whole life in its tempting glimpses into a past environment and ominous forebodings of the future–all contracted into the space of four or five pages. … He reveals things that no author before him has revealed. It is as though he possessed a special organ which enabled him to see, hear and feel things of which we other mortals did not even dream the existence. Yet when he lays them bare we know that they are not fictitious, not invented, but as real as the ordinary familiar facts of life. This faculty of his playing on allconceivable objects, all conceivable emotions, no matter how microscopic, endows them with life and a soul. …..the magic touch of this strange genius…. Chekhov divines the most secret impulses of the soul, scents out what is buried in the subconscious, and brings it up to the surface. … He is equally at home everywhere. The peasant, the labourer, the merchant, the priest, the professional man,the scholar, the military officer, and the government functionary, Gentile or Jew, man, woman, or child–Chekhov is intimate with all of them. His characters are sharply defined individuals, not types. In almost all his stories, however short, the men and women and children who play a part in them come out as clear, distinct personalities.” [ Thomas Seltzer: Introduction to Best Russian Short Stories]. Link to Best Russian Short Stories: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13437/13437-8.txt. Biography of Chekhov: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Chekhov. Link to Chekhov’s works: http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/c#a708

My Favourite Short Story-1 : ‘Where Love is, God is’ by Leo Tolstoi

This is an ennobling, elevating and inspiring short story. I have read it several times. I am always very much moved by it. It is an incomparable classic. Even after more than 100 years of its publication, it is avidly read by many. I would recommend it to all.

http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2892/