Even the most fraught relationship is unlikely to approach the crazed union described in Tolstoy's contentious novella. Banned by the Russian censors, it was published in 1891 only after the writer's indefatigable wife, Sonya – the very person who must have felt most humiliated by it – appealed to the Tsar. Seldom, if ever, has such a crackpot polemic also proved to be as riveting a fiction. It all takes place on a train, where, after overhearing a conversation about marriage, the narrator listens as a nervous, almost demented fellow passenger, Pozdnyshev, begins to tell him the story of how he murdered his wife. The crime becomes almost incidental as he rails against jealousy, the evils of sexual love and the wiles of women. Frenzied, fluent and often funny, The Kreutzer Sonata is accompanied by three further stories.