The award-winning translators of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Gogol now bring us a Russian writer ripe for rediscovery, whose earthy and exuberant stories, famous in his own country, have never before been adequately translated into English.
Leskov was Chekhov’s favorite writer and was greatly admired by Tolstoy and Maxim Gorky. His short stories—innovative in form, richly playful in language, now tragic, now satirical, now wildly comic in subject matter—exploded the prevailing traditions of nineteenth-century Russian fiction and paved the way for such famous literary successors as Mikhail Bulgakov. These seventeen stories are visionary and fantastic, and yet always grounded in reality, peopled by outsized characters that include serfs, princes, military officers, Gypsy girls, wayward monks, horse dealers, nomadic Tartars, and, above all, the ubiquitous figure of the garrulous, enthralling, not entirely trustworthy storyteller.
In stories long considered classics, Leskov takes the speech patterns of oral storytelling and spins them in new and startlingly modern ways, presenting seemingly artless yarns that are in fact highly sophisticated. It is the great gift of this new translation that it allows us to hear the many vibrant voices of Leskov’s singular art.