The Cossacks Questions and Answers
by Leo Tolstoy

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Explain the Cossacks’ perception of Russians presented in The Cossacks. Why didn't Olenin fit the stereotype?

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The Cossacks , as Tolstoy depicts them, have more in common culturally with the mountaineer Muslim peoples of the Caucasus than they have with the Russians. What links them to the Russians is religion, their Orthodox Christianity. In other respects the values and lifestyle of the Cossacks are, perhaps unsurprisingly, similar to those of the non-European peoples (variously known as Circassians, Chechens, Tatars, and Avars) of the Terek river area where both groups live. Russians, in their perception, do not have the physical bravery and ruggedness of Caucasus people: they have become soft, lacking the raw and untamed nature of those who live on a frontier, surrounded by enemies as the Cossacks...

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