Author: Leo Tolstoy
Publication Date: 1889
Review Score: 7/10
Although most notably known for the epic novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy also wrote a number of novellas and short stories, of which the Kreutzer Sonata is one of the most acclaimed.
We join the story on a train journey through the heart of Russia on which a woman is arguing for marriage by true love as opposed to arrangement. Overhearing this, a somewhat jaded, depressed man called Pozdnyshev asks “what is love?”.
The man continues to point out that love is fleeting, temporary and can soon turn to hatred. He then takes the reader through the tale of his marriage and how it began with passion and vigour, but soon turned sour when his wife began playing music with a young, handsome violin player.
What we are left with is a story of love, passion, jealousy and hatred, which although written over a 100 years ago is still very relevant today. As we are taken through this story through Pozdnyshev it is hard to know how much was there between his wife and the violin player and how much was his exaggerated fantasy.
I am not really one for love or even anti-love stories but I was slightly moved by The Kreutzer Sonata, as we are clearly in the presence of a man who is filled with unheeded jealous passion, but really is just scared of losing the one he loves.
I can’t fully imagine the scared feelings of panic one would actually have in this situation, but with Tolstoy’s beautifully descriptive writing and excellent character development, it is easy to relate and feel for Pozdnyshev.
If you have never read any of Tolstoy’s work and, like me, are too daunted by the thought of reading War and Peace then I definitely recommend that you start with The Kreutzer Sonata and any other of his short stories.