"The Cossacks" is believed to be somewhat autobiographical, partially based on Tolstoy's experiences in the Caucasus during the last stages of the Caucasian War. Disenchanted with his privileged life in Russian society, nobleman Dmitri Olenin joins the army as a cadet, in the hopes of escaping the superficiality of his daily life. On a quest to find "completeness," he naively hopes to find serenity among the "simple" people of the Caucasus. In an attempt to immerse himself in the local culture, he befriends an old man. They drink wine, curse, and hunt pheasant and boar in the Cossack tradition, and Olenin even begins to dress in the manner of a Cossack. He forgets himself and falls in love with the young Maryanka, in spite of her fiancee Lukashka. While spending life as a Cossack, he learns lessons about his own inner life, moral philosophy, and the nature of reality. He also understand the intricacies of human psychology and nature.
(Excerpt from Wikipedia)
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