The Forged Coupon
Pure Genius; Leo Tolstoy
Except from The Forged Coupon by Leo Tolstoy, short, simple, and yet truly profound, this novella reads as it perhaps was, Tolstoy’s last wish for humanity; compassion, kindness, and responsibility toward our fellow man and woman.
‘wanted it. But her father stopped that; besides which, she felt disgusted at the crowd of suppli- cants who personally, and by letters, besieged her with demands for money. Then she resolved to apply to an old man, known to be a saint by his life, and to give him her money to dispose of in the way he thought best. Her father got angry with her when he heard about it. During a vio- lent altercation he called her mad, a raving luna- tic, and said he would take measures to prevent her from doing injury to herself.’
* * *
Young Mitya is in desperate need of money to repay a debt, but his father angrily denies him assistance. Dejected, Mitya simply changes a $2.50 note to read $12.50, but this one evil deed sets off a chain of events that affects the lives of dozens of others, when his one falsehood indirectly causes a man to murder a woman at the end of Part I, and then seek redemption through religion in Part II.
Having written the novella in his dying years, after his excommunication, Tolstoy relishes the chance to unveil the “pseudo-piety and hypocrisy of organized religion.” Yet, he maintains an unwavering belief in man’s capacity to find truth, so the story remains hopeful.
Project Gutenberg's The Forged Coupon and Other Stories, by Leo Tolstoy