52 pages 1 hour read

Leo Tolstoy

How Much Land Does a Man Need

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1886

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“How Much Land Does a Man Need”

  • Genre: Fiction; short story
  • Originally Published: 1886
  • Reading Level/Interest: College/Adult
  • Structure/Length: Approx. 9 pages; approx. 36 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: When his wife and sister-in-law argue over the pros and cons of town and farm life, the peasant Pahóm thinks that “if [he] had plenty of land, [he] shouldn’t fear the Devil himself,” but little does he know that Satan is hiding behind the stove and hears him. When the opportunity arises to purchase a large area of land for a small price, Pahóm takes on more than he can handle, with catastrophic consequences.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Death, images of the devil  

Leo Tolstoy, Author

  • Bio: 1828-1910; Russian writer regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time; born to a family of Russian nobility; fourth of five children; studied law and languages at Kazan University but didn’t graduate; served as an artillery officer during the Crimean War; married Sophia Andreevna Behrs in 1862; had 13 children, eight surviving to adulthood; profound influence on the development of Christian anarchist thought and that being a Christian requires pacifism; nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902-1906 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909; died at age 82 of pneumonia; thousands of peasants lined the streets of the funeral procession
  • Other Works: Childhood (1852); Family Happiness (1859); War and Peace (1869); Anna Karenina (1878); Resurrection (1899)