In these two stories, translated by Ronald Wilks, Russian peasants find themselves caught up in unwitting encounters with the supernatural. In the first, the titular How Much Land Does a Man Need?, the humble peasant Pakhom and his wife live a modest but contented existence in the country. Yet Pakhom has one desire: 'I don't have enough land. Give me enough of that and I'd fear no one - not even the Devil himself!' But, unluckily for Pakhom, the Devil is lurking in his cottage than night and sees an excellent opportunity to put this ambitious peasant to the test. And so Pakhom finds himself in a position where he starts being able to acquire more land; but, with each gain, he becomes hungry for more. The more he acquires, the more he wants, while the Devil watches with glee from the sidelines. It makes for a pointed fable about the damaging effects of avarice and the importance of being content with your god-given lot in life. The religious theme continues in the second story, What Men Live By, which in one sense is a retelling of the Good Samaritan. The impoverished shoemaker Semyon is returning from town one day, in low spirits, when he finds a naked man sitting in the cold outside a chapel. Semyon's instinct is to walk on and mind his own business, but compassion leads him to return to the man, give him his own worn coat, and take him home to share a dinner they can ill afford. Semyon's goodness is repaid by loyalty: the foundling, Mikhail, turns out to have a gift for shoemaking and the business prospers. But Semyon and his wife know so little about their new assistant, and the enigma deepens as the years pass, until Mikhail is finally ready to reveal the truth of his identity: one that emphasises the importance of sharing, looking out for one another and acting with kindness. Like the first story, this has the air of a fable or fairy story, charmingly devout. As such, neither tale has the impressive power of some of the stories covered here, but they were some of the most enjoyable to read (except, of course, for the gleefully nonsensical Nose). I won't be reading War and Peace again any time soon, but I should seek out some more of Tolstoy's short stories, as they confirm him as a gifted and graceful storyteller.