Begun in 1851, when Tolstoy was twenty-three and serving as a cadet in the Russian army, "Childhood," the first part of Tolstoy's first novel, won immediate praise from Turgenev and others, and marked Tolstoy's emergence as a major writer. Its originality was striking, as Tolstoy sought to communicate with great immediacy the "poetry" of childhood--the intense emotions, confusions, and fears attendant upon a young boy, Nikolenka, as he grows up. In the years following, "Boyhood" and "Youth" appeared (a fourth volume was planned but never executed), each replete with psychological and philosophical subtleties hitherto unknown in Russian literature. In Scammell's resplendent translation, "Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth" remains one of Tolstoy's major works.
About the Author
Nikolai Tolstoy is a highly recognized and acclaimed historian and biographer. He was the sole beneficiary of his stepfather's will and is one of the trustees of O'Brian's estate.
Edvard Kocbek was born in 1904, the son of a church organist, in a part of present-day Slovenia that was then in Austria-Hungary. Following the publication in 1934 of his first book of poetry, he published essays that presaged the wartime alliance of this Christian Socialist with the Tito-led partisan resistance. Despite a lengthy postwar publication ban, Kocbek went on to win the Preseren Prize, Slovenia's highest literary award, in 1964. More books of both poetry and prose followed, including his "Collected Poems" in 1977, which sealed his reputation as Slovenia's greatest modern-day poet. Michael Scammell, who teaches writing in Columbia University's School of the Arts, has translated widely from Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and Slovenian, including works by Tolstoy and Nabokov. Veno Taufer, the author of sixteen volumes of poetry in his native Slovenia and the translator of more than forty books of poetry, is the recipient of the Preseren Prize and several prestigious international awards. His verse, including the collection Waterlings (Northwestern, 2000), has been translated into numerous languages.
“No one has ever excelled Tolstoy in expressing the specific flavour, the exact quality of a feeling.” —Isaiah Berlin