A simple peasant seeks spiritual fulfilment in this apparently artless tale of popular piety.
'Here, see my belongings: a bag of dry crusts on my back and the Holy Bible in my breast pocket; that's it'
In 1884 a slim volume containing four short tales appeared in Russia. They told of a pilgrim, a lone wanderer, led by his quiet curiosity and a deep spiritual longing to undertake a lifelong journey across the land. The story of this gentle figure and his travels - through forests, fields and steppes, encountering priests and professors, nuns and convicts on the way - became a beloved spiritual guide around the world, immortalized in the pages of JD Salinger's Franny and Zooey as the 'small pea-green cloth-bound book' that Franny keeps close in her handbag. At its heart, it is a paean to peace, prayer, consolation and silent contemplation.
Translated with an introduction and notes by Andrew Louth