“It is hard to imagine any of the large publishers devoting this much time and space to a single short story, so we should be grateful to Calypso, a new press run collaboratively by writer and translators, for this excellent edition of a small but important work.” —Times Literary Supplement
Here are a few snippets from Koelb’s review:
“Tolstoy was never a genre snob: he wrote children’s stories to use as teaching aids (and ethical guides) at the school he founded at Yasnaya Polyana as well as the great realist novels for which he is best known — novels he sometimes denounced as bloated and elitist. Folktales appealed to him not only as a purer form of literature; they offered a more direct means of moral instruction for Russia’s peasant classes.
… What sets this short tale apart from those truly written by folk is the fullness with which Tolstoy so briefly and easily presents Pakhom: he remains a type, of course, as he must for the purpose of the tale — but he is also and always a real character, one who loses nothing in Boris Dralyuk’s finely-turned translation.”