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Childhood (version 2)

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By: (1828-1910)

Childhood is the first published novel by Leo Tolstoy, released under the initials L. N. in the November 1852 issue of the popular Russian literary journal The Contemporary. It is the first in a series of three novels and is followed by Boyhood and Youth. Published when Tolstoy was just twenty-three years old, the book was an immediate success, earning notice from other Russian novelists including Ivan Turgenev, who heralded the young Tolstoy as a major up-and-coming figure in Russian literature. Childhood is an exploration of the inner life of a young boy, Nikolenka, and one of the books in Russian writing to explore an expressionistic style, mixing fact, fiction and emotions to render the moods and reactions of the narrator.

First Page:

CHILDHOOD

By Leo Tolstoy

Translated by C.J. Hogarth

I THE TUTOR, KARL IVANITCH

On the 12th of August, 18 (just three days after my tenth birthday, when I had been given such wonderful presents), I was awakened at seven o'clock in the morning by Karl Ivanitch slapping the wall close to my head with a fly flap made of sugar paper and a stick. He did this so roughly that he hit the image of my patron saint suspended to the oaken back of my bed, and the dead fly fell down on my curls. I peeped out from under the coverlet, steadied the still shaking image with my hand, flicked the dead fly on to the floor, and gazed at Karl Ivanitch with sleepy, wrathful eyes. He, in a parti coloured wadded dressing gown fastened about the waist with a wide belt of the same material, a red knitted cap adorned with a tassel, and soft slippers of goat skin, went on walking round the walls and taking aim at, and slapping, flies.

"Suppose," I thought to myself, "that I am only a small boy, yet why should he disturb me? Why does he not go killing flies around Woloda's bed? No; Woloda is older than I, and I am the youngest of the family, so he torments me... Continue reading book >>


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