In the setting of what is present-day Kazakhstan, Tolstoy examines two psychological problems. The first dilemma is that of a young man who desires both fulfilling love and a place as a respected member of society. The other is the difficulty of a primitive society to accept domination by a higher culture that has no understanding of the traditions it asks its colonists to cast aside.
One of Tolstoy's lesser-known novels, The Cossacks is one of the finest pictures of Cossack society in all of Russian literature.
Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude.