Thommy Ford Reads

A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library

“After the Ball” by Leo Tolstoy

Saturday Shorts 75-01

I saw the soldier standing opposite me step forward resolutely and, swinging his rod with a whistle, give a strong blow to the Tartar’s back. The Tartar jerked forward but the corporals held him, and the same blow fell from the other side, and again from this side, and again from that… I caught a glimpse of the punished man’s back from between the rows. It was something so mottled, wet, red, unnatural, that I could not believe it was a man’s body.

doii

Look for “After the Ball” in The Death of Ivan Ilyich & Other Stories: FIC TOLSTOY

Though told like a personal anecdote, there is a certain cinematic sweep to this 1903 short by Tolstoy. It starts as a philosophical conversation at a party, but quickly flashes back to a posh ball full of youth and romance and dizzying dancing. We follow love-addled Ivan out of the ball and into the early morning streets. We wander with him through the morning mists and melting snow of Russian spring as we watch the city’s early risers get to work. But the air of lovelorn reverie is broken by a shocking, violent act. A sudden blow to Ivan’s happiness, he never really recovers.

Like all of Tolstoy’s best writing, there’s a universal appeal and a depth of character that overcomes the 112 years of distance, the cultural differences, and the difficulties of translation. It’s relatable and moving still. And it’s a good, short introduction to Tolstoy’s later fiction.

Review by Matthew

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on June 6, 2015 by in Book Review, Fiction, Saturday Shorts, Short Stories.
%d bloggers like this: