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What Men Live By and Other Tales

Leo Tolstoy

Book Overview: 

Although Leo Tolstoy was a wealthy landowner, in his later life he had what was considered a “religious awakening.” This experience went on to inform his writing and his lifestyle in profound ways. His views transcended the specifics of religion, as known in his day – so much so he came to be a helpful guide both to Mohandas Gandhi and to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The four stories in this collection ask profound questions and gently supply helpful, non-dogmatic hints to their answerings: What is the most important thing to do? Who is the most important person? When is the most important time? What is worth owning? What is the most profound religion? What rules should men live by? How much land does a man need? Who is God? What should we bother to discuss? How should we act towards one another? How should we respond to cruelty and violence? And many more. Wonderful stories written in a relaxed style.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The stranger took off the coat, put on the shirt, and lay down in the loft. Matryona put out the candle, took the coat, and climbed to where her husband lay.

Matryona drew the skirts of the coat over her and lay down, but could not sleep; she could not get the stranger out of her mind.

When she remembered that he had eaten their last piece of bread and that there was none for tomorrow, and thought of the shirt and trousers she had given away, she felt grieved; but when she remembered how he had smiled, her heart was glad.

Long did Matryona lie awake, and she noticed that Simon also was awake—he drew the coat towards him.



"You have had the last of the bread, and I have not put any to rise. I don't know what we shall do tomorrow. Perhaps I can borrow some of neighbor Martha."

"If we're alive we shall find something to eat."

The woman lay still awhile, and then s. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The last short story in the book "How Much Land Does A Man Need" is genius. Just say'n.

I find myself falling into reading more and more of the Russian literature. I guess my roots are breaking through the many years I have lived in the US.

I want my intelligence to rise beyond that of "media munchers" (those who read magazines and live through reality tv).

All in all, the stories and p

How Much Land Does a Man Need? is my favorite from this collection. Overall, the others don’t do much for me personally, but they are still enjoyable.

The tales "What Men Live by" and "How Much Land Does a Man Need", which I already read earlier in its own book, really got me. Very thoughtful and philosophical as I expected.

I really do love the moral tales that Tolstoy offers up in most of his short stories, but these four are particularly wonderful. The fun part for me is that the tales are lined up in the book in my order of preference! Brilliant! One of the things I love best about short stories that they hit you qu

The book is written by Tolstoy so what can one presume except sheer brilliance.

The book comprises of four short stories each having unforgettable lessons and deep meanings of life.

What Men live by
"I have learnt that all men live not by care for themselves but by love".

Three Questions
"Remember th

Without a verbose explanation, Tolstoy is simply rushing towards God.

A GREAT read. Very simple, yet very deep. You can read it at many levels and get a lot out of it on each level.

Favorite quotes. First, what men live by:
"I have now understood that though it seems to men that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has

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