Might be on your college or high school reading list!
âHow Much Land Does a Man Need?â
This is a very short parable about avarice: in this case, a peasant who is greedy for land. Not quite Faustian, he ultimately finds his ideal, albeit too late. Change the locale and the century and it may be partly applied to the banking industry of today.
âThe Death of Ivan Ilyichâ
Unlike Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Ivan has the decency to die up front. We do, however, get to retrograde through his brief biography and witness his frustration and agony through the progress of his terminal illness. In the course of its progress, he encounters in his physicians his own arrogance in the courts. His disease is personifiedâhe sees it as having a life of its own. He gets to die again at the end.
âThe Kreutzer Sonataâ
A murderer has been acquitted based upon 19th century concepts of marital rights and behaviors. This is his storyâthe anatomy of a murderâin excruciating detail. The narrator, who retells his story, is a very patient listener. Tolstoy pursues a multitude of themes not the least of which is that love and hate are polar extremes of the same basic emotion. Why the title? The sonata is apparently the last straw to a failing marital relationship. After a lengthy buildup of jealousy the tempo of the music heightens his emotion and he is poised to commit the final act should there be an encore.