Kazaki. Hadji Murad (Illustrated) (Russian Edition)
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In the s Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work A Confession. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. Tolstoy's ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal 20th-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Tolstoys were a well-known family of old Russian nobility, tracing their ancestry to a mythical Lithuanian noble Indris. Tolstoy's parents died when he was young, so he and his siblings were brought up by relatives. In , he began studying law and oriental languages at Kazan University. His teachers described him as "both unable and unwilling to learn.
In , after running up heavy gambling debts, he went with his older brother to the Caucasus and joined the army. It was about this time that he started writing. During his visit, Tolstoy witnessed a public execution in Paris, a traumatic experience that would mark the rest of his life. Writing in a letter to his friend Vasily Botkin: "The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere. The similar evocation of battle scenes in Hugo's novel and Tolstoy's War and Peace indicates this influence.
Tolstoy's political philosophy was also influenced by a March visit to French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, then living in exile under an assumed name in Brussels. Apart from reviewing Proudhon's forthcoming publication, La Guerre et la Paix War and Peace in French , whose title Tolstoy would borrow for his masterpiece, the two men discussed education, as Tolstoy wrote in his educational notebooks: "If I recount this conversation with Proudhon, it is to show that, in my personal experience, he was the only man who understood the significance of education and of the printing press in our time.
Tolstoy described the school's principles in his essay "The School at Yasnaya Polyana". However, as a direct forerunner to A. Neill's Summerhill School, the school at Yasnaya Polyana can justifiably be claimed the first example of a coherent theory of democratic education. Death Tolstoy's grave with flowers at Yasnaya Polyana. Tolstoy died in , at the age of Just prior to his death, his health had been a concern of his family, who were actively engaged in his care on a daily basis.
During his last few days, he had spoken and written about dying. Renouncing his aristocratic lifestyle, he had finally gathered the nerve to separate from his wife, and left home in the middle of Winter, in the dead of night. She was outspokenly opposed to many of his teachings, and in recent years had grown envious of the attention which it seemed to her Tolstoy lavished upon his Tolstoyan "disciples".
Tolstoy died of pneumonia at Astapovo train station, after a day's rail journey south. He was given injections of morphine and camphor. The police tried to limit access to his funeral procession, but thousands of peasants lined the streets. Still, some were heard to say that, other than knowing that "some nobleman had died," they knew little else about Tolstoy.
She was called Sonya, the Russian diminutive of Sofia, by her family and friends. Wilson as one of the unhappiest in literary history.
Tolstoy's relationship with his wife deteriorated as his beliefs became increasingly radical. This saw him seeking to reject his inherited and earned wealth, including the renunciation of the copyrights on his earlier works. His contemporaries paid him lofty tributes. Fyodor Dostoyevsky thought him the greatest of all living novelists. Gustave Flaubert, on reading a translation of War and Peace, exclaimed, "What an artist and what a psychologist! What he does serves to justify all the hopes and aspirations invested in literature. Virginia Woolf declared him the greatest of all novelists.
James Joyce noted that, "He is never dull, never stupid, never tired, never pedantic, never theatrical! Thomas Mann wrote of Tolstoy's seemingly guileless artistry: "Seldom did art work so much like nature". Such sentiments were shared by the likes of Proust, Faulkner and Nabokov.
Though he later rejected them as sentimental, a great deal of Tolstoy's own life is revealed. They retain their relevance as accounts of the universal story of growing up. Tolstoy served as a second lieutenant in an artillery regiment during the Crimean War, recounted in his Sevastopol Sketches. His experiences in battle helped stir his subsequent pacifism and gave him material for realistic depiction of the horrors of war in his later work. Anna Karenina tells parallel stories of an adulterous woman trapped by the conventions and falsities of society and of a philosophical landowner much like Tolstoy , who works alongside the peasants in the fields and seeks to reform their lives.
Tolstoy not only drew from his own life experiences but also created characters in his own image, such as Pierre Bezukhov and Prince Andrei in War and Peace, Levin in Anna Karenina and to some extent, Prince Nekhlyudov in Resurrection. Its vast canvas includes characters, many historical with others fictional. The story moves from family life to the headquarters of Napoleon, from the court of Alexander I of Russia to the battlefields of Austerlitz and Borodino. Tolstoy's original idea for the novel was to investigate the causes of the Decembrist revolt, to which it refers only in the last chapters, from which can be deduced that Andrei Bolkonsky's son will become one of the Decembrists.
The novel explores Tolstoy's theory of history, and in particular the insignificance of individuals such as Napoleon and Alexander. Somewhat surprisingly, Tolstoy did not consider War and Peace to be a novel nor did he consider many of the great Russian fictions written at that time to be novels. This view becomes less surprising if one considers that Tolstoy was a novelist of the realist school who considered the novel to be a framework for the examination of social and political issues in nineteenth-century life.
Tolstoy thought that Anna Karenina was his first true novel. Tolstoy also explores and explains the economic philosophy of Georgism, of which he had become a very strong advocate towards the end of his life. Religious and political beliefs Tolstoy dressed in peasant clothing, by Ilya Repin After reading Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation, Tolstoy gradually became converted to the ascetic morality upheld in that work as the proper spiritual path for the upper classes: "Do you know what this summer has meant for me?
Constant raptures over Schopenhauer and a whole series of spiritual delights which I've never experienced before. It explained how the nothingness that results from complete denial of self is only a relative nothingness, and is not to be feared. The novelist was struck by the description of Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu ascetic renunciation as being the path to holiness.
After reading passages such as the following, which abound in Schopenhauer's ethical chapters, the Russian nobleman chose poverty and formal denial of the will: But this very necessity of involuntary suffering by poor people for eternal salvation is also expressed by that utterance of the Savior Matthew : "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Thus Buddha Sakyamuni was born a prince, but voluntarily took to the mendicant's staff; and Francis of Assisi, the founder of the mendicant orders who, as a youngster at a ball, where the daughters of all the notabilities were sitting together, was asked: "Now Francis, will you not soon make your choice from these beauties?
He affirmed his belief in Jesus Christ's teachings and was particularly influenced by the Sermon on the Mount, and the injunction to turn the other cheek, which he understood as a "commandment of non-resistance to evil by force" and a doctrine of pacifism and nonviolence. In his work The Kingdom of God Is Within You, he explains that he considered mistaken the Church's doctrine because they had made a "perversion" of Christ's teachings.
Tolstoy believed being a Christian required him to be a pacifist; the consequences of being a pacifist, and the apparently inevitable waging of war by government, are the reason why he is considered a philosophical anarchist. Later, various versions of "Tolstoy's Bible" would be published, indicating the passages Tolstoy most relied on, specifically, the reported words of Jesus himself. Gandhi and other residents of Tolstoy Farm, South Africa, Tolstoy believed that a true Christian could find lasting happiness by striving for inner self-perfection through following the Great Commandment of loving one's neighbor and God rather than looking outward to the Church or state for guidance.
His belief in nonresistance when faced by conflict is another distinct attribute of his philosophy based on Christ's teachings. By directly influencing Mahatma Gandhi with this idea through his work The Kingdom of God Is Within You full text of English translation available on Wikisource , Tolstoy's profound influence on the nonviolent resistance movement reverberates to this day. He believed that the aristocracy were a burden on the poor, and that the only solution to how we live together is through anarchism.
Tolstoy's later work derives a passion and verve from the depth of his austere moral views. Gorky relates how Tolstoy once read this passage before himself and Chekhov and that Tolstoy was moved to tears by the end of the reading. Other later passages of rare power include the personal crises that were faced by the protagonists of The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and of Master and Man, where the main character in the former or the reader in the latter are made aware of the foolishness of the protagonists' lives. Tolstoy had a profound influence on the development of Christian anarchist thought.
With all the might of his talent, Tolstoy made especially in The Kingdom of God Is Within You a powerful criticism of the church, the state and law altogether, and especially of the present property laws. He describes the state as the domination of the wicked ones, supported by brutal force.
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Robbers, he says, are far less dangerous than a well-organized government. He makes a searching criticism of the prejudices which are current now concerning the benefits conferred upon men by the church, the state, and the existing distribution of property, and from the teachings of Jesus he deduces the rule of non-resistance and the absolute condemnation of all wars. His religious arguments are, however, so well combined with arguments borrowed from a dispassionate observation of the present evils, that the anarchist portions of his works appeal to the religious and the non-religious reader alike.
He was harshly critical of the atrocities committed by the Russians, Germans, and other western troops. He accused them of engaging in slaughter when he heard about the lootings, rapes, and murders, in what he saw as Christian brutality. Play media Film footage of Tolstoy's 80th birthday at Yasnaya Polyana. Footage shows his wife Sofya picking flowers in the garden , daughter Aleksandra sitting in the carriage in the white blouse , his aide and confidante, V. Chertkov bald man with the beard and mustache and students.
Filmed by Aleksandr Osipovich Drankov, In hundreds of essays over the last 20 years of his life, Tolstoy reiterated the anarchist critique of the state and recommended books by Kropotkin and Proudhon to his readers, whilst rejecting anarchism's espousal of violent revolutionary means. In the essay, "On Anarchy", he wrote; "The Anarchists are right in everything; in the negation of the existing order, and in the assertion that, without Authority, there could not be worse violence than that of Authority under existing conditions.
They are mistaken only in thinking that Anarchy can be instituted by a revolution. But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require the protection of governmental power Tolstoy considered Yasnaya Polyana his home in every sense of the word. It was his dominion, his refuge, his touchstone.
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Without my Yasnaya, he said, I cannot imagine my Russia and my relationship to her. As you wander along the maple-, linden-, and birch-lined paths between the heavily forested ravines, and through the meadows, extending beyond the horizon, with their richly scented bouquets of wildowers, your consciousness alters. Time slows at Yasnaya Polyana, awareness sharpens, and the sense of human possibility expands.
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You begin to appreciate herenot only with your mind, but with your entire beingthat mysterious grandeur of the universe that Tolstoy himself felt so deeply, and that emanates from the pages of his great novels. For, not unlike Yasnaya Polyana itself, each Tolstoyan novel is a world unto itself: buzzing with diverse life, moving with the pulse of time, yet unmistakably timeless and whole.
Strolling along one of the main dirt paths at Yasnaya Polyana, you feel the forest growing thicker and the air cooler. Only the light rustling of the leaves of ash and birch trees and the occasional trilling of the sparrows and crickets can be heard. You approach the end of the path on the edge of the forest, and to your right is a small mound of grass, which appears to be growing out of the dusty earth pathway that surrounds it on all sides.
This mound, adorned by a bouquet of freshly picked wildowers and lit by a few rays of sun that have broken through the trees, is Tolstoys gravesite. It stands there unobtrusively, on the edge of the ravine, without a headstone, without a sign, just as Tolstoy requested. This is the spot where, as a little boy, Tolstoy and his brother, Nikolai, discovered a little green stick, on which, they believed, was inscribed the secret to universal happiness.