At the age of forty-one, Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) underwent a profound spiritual crisis, from which he emerged believing that he had encountered Death itself. These seven compelling stories explore, in very different ways, his subsequent preoccupation with mortality. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a devestating account of a man fighting his inevitable end, and ask the existential question: why must a good person be taken before his time? In Polikushka a light-fingered drunk’s chance to prove himself has tragic repercussions, while Three Deaths depicts the last moments of an aristocrat, a peasant and a tree, and The Forged Coupon shows a seemingly minor offence that leads inexorably to ever more horrific crimes. And in three tales about soldiers, After the Ball, The Wood-felling and The Raid, Tolstoy portrays the brutality that all too often accompanies military life.