By Nikolai Leskov
The award-winning translators of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Gogol now carry us a Russian author ripe for rediscovery, whose earthy and exuberant tales, well-known in his personal nation, have by no means sooner than been thoroughly translated into English.
Leskov was once Chekhov’s favourite author and was once significantly famous by means of Tolstoy and Maxim Gorky. His brief stories—innovative in shape, richly playful in language, now tragic, now satirical, now wildly comedian in topic matter—exploded the existing traditions of nineteenth-century Russian fiction and lead the way for such well-known literary successors as Mikhail Bulgakov. those seventeen tales are visionary and tremendous, and but continuously grounded in truth, peopled via oversized characters that come with serfs, princes, army officials, Gypsy ladies, wayward clergymen, horse purchasers, nomadic Tartars, and, mainly, the ever-present determine of the garrulous, enchanting, now not totally reliable storyteller.
In tales lengthy thought of classics, Leskov takes the speech styles of oral storytelling and spins them in new and startlingly sleek methods, proposing probably artless yarns which are actually hugely refined. it's the excellent gift of this new translation that it permits us to listen to the numerous shiny voices of Leskov’s singular art.
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They took counsel together and decided to put to death all those that dared disobey them. From officers who had helped put down the Yellow Turban rebels they demanded presents, and if anyone refused to do so, he would be removed from office. Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun both fell victims to these intrigues, while on the other hand the eunuchs received the highest honors. Some of them were given the rank of General of Carriage and thirteen others were ennobled. The state’s affairs went from bad to worse and cries of discontent rose all around.
But just as the rebels were passing through the hills, trumpets sounded and the ambushed soldiers threw down filth and showered blood. Then the masses of troops in the air fluttered to the ground, revealing themselves as paper men and straw horses. At once the wind abated, the thunder ceased to roll, the sand sank, and the stones lay still on the ground. Seeing that his magic had been countered, Zhang Bao quickly turned to retreat. But, attacked on the flanks by Guan Yu and Zhang Fei and in the rear by Liu Bei and Zhu Jun, his army was completely routed.
Therefore, he liked nothing better than cultivating the friendship of men of substance. In appearance, he was tall of stature. He had exceptionally long ears, the lobes touching his shoulders so that his eyes could see his own ears. His arms were long, too, with his hands hanging down below his knees. He had a jade-like complexion and rich, red lips. His name was Liu Bei—or more commonly, Liu Xuan-de—a descendant of Prince Jing of Zhongshan named Liu Sheng, whose father was Emperor Jing in West Han.