"In the Days of Serfdom" and Other Stories, originally published in 1911, presents in miniature themes developed in Tolstoy's longer works War and Peace and Anna Karenina. The compelling stories in this collection have largely been ignored by contemporary scholars and teachers because of their general unavailability. Available once again, the stories reveal new thematic and stylisitic dimensions to Tolstoy's oeuvre.
While not all of the stories deal with actual serfdom, they all address the legacy of serfdom, of choicelessness, in Tolstoy's Russia. These stories are also thoroughly modern, concerned as they are with the market economy, changing values, and women's roles in society. Artistically and historically significant, they constitute ethical and spiritual questionings that deal with lives out of control, with characters making sense of the experience of living.
Marilyn Atlas is Associate Professor of English at Ohio University.