OFF THE SHELF
OFF THE SHELF
Hadji Murat by Leo Tolstoy
This is the last book that Tolstoy wrote before his death, and it was posthumously printed. It is well regarded as a truly classic read but for our reading group it proved to be a ‘Marmite book’. A few found it not to their reading taste.
Those loving the book felt it a sad, intense, and beautifully written account of man’s struggle to come to terms with the psychological feelings during a war. Tolstoy was himself enlisted into the Russian army in 1851 and left for Caucasus to fight the Chechens. He witnessed many events leading to the death of this charismatic leader Hadji Murat, so the book is a partially fictionalized story. Tolstoy wrote with painstaking accuracy so future generations can come to understand the horror, nobility and destruction which inherently comes with war.
Hadji Murat was a great chieftain who broke with the Chechen leader Shamil and fled to Russia for safety. The book shows his struggle of this uneasy alliance with the Russian leaders and the difficulty Hadji Murat faced in trying to rescue his family from Shamil’s prison. His continual pursuit by those he betrayed was nuanced through the work and the shadows of danger was subtlety woven through the book. Unfortunately, we were never clear why Hadji Murat had fallen out with the Chechen leader, but he commanded respect from those in Russia who tried to support his cause and use him to deliver peace.
For those of us who loved the book it was considered an unforgettable and artfully written story. For those who struggled on, they were pleased it was a slim read.
We gave it 8 out of 10.