The Art of Leo Tolstoy

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Nikolai
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The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by Nikolai »

Bus 2 Bondi quotes Tolstoy:
"During this time, I went to the theatre 28 for the rehearsals of the Power of Darkness. Art, be- ginning as a game, has continued to be the toy of adults. This is also proved by music, of which I have heard much. It is ineffectual. On the contrary, it detracts when there is ascribed to it the unsuitable meaning which is ascribed to it. Realism, moreover, weakens its significance . . ."
Yes, the man who without exaggeration could be counted among humanity's greatest of artists went on to repudiate his works and declared that they were an abomination to him. All that we mere mortals see as great he dismissed as a trifling vanity that must not be taken seriously. What visions of truth did he attain to make him denigrate his art so?

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Richard Baron
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Re: The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by Richard Baron »

I am reminded of Isaiah Berlin's description of the old Tolstoy at the end of The Hedgehog and the Fox:

At once insanely proud and filled with self-hatred, omniscient and doubting everything, cold and violently passionate, contemptuous and self-abasing, tormented and detached, surrounded by an adoring family, by devoted followers, by the admiration of the entire civilized world, and yet almost wholly isolated, he is the most tragic of the great writers, a desperate old man, beyond human aid, wandering self-blinded at Colonus.
Last edited by Richard Baron on Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Nikolai
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Re: The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by Nikolai »

I remember being a youngster at university reading alone in my room. Suddenly, my flatmate burst in and asked me why I was sighing so much. I didn't even know I was doing it. I was reading Tolstoy's diaries.
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Nisus
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Re: The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by Nisus »

Such a radical attitude was a product of a serious religious crisis that changed his whole worldview. Tolstoy was an incredibly sensitive person, in a sense he was even more sensitive than Schopenhauer.

It is sad, but his great works remain great nonetheless. So far no book has touched me so profoundly as The Death of Ivan Ilych...
Nikolai
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Re: The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by Nikolai »

With you 100% on Ivan Ilyich. I often say its the most perfect piece of literature I know.

Have you read Tolstoy's Confession?
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Nisus
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Re: The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by Nisus »

Not yet. But I'm planning to read War and Peace very soon.

I also loved Anna Karenina, Master and Man (almost as moving as Ivan Ilyich) and Hadji Murad.
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Resha Caner
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Re: The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by Resha Caner »

Nikolai wrote:With you 100% on Ivan Ilyich. I often say its the most perfect piece of literature I know.
Indeed a great work. I'm torn by Tolstoy. The first thing of his I tried to read was Anna Karenina, and only because it was the favorite book of my then girlfriend. I hated it - couldn't even finish it.

Ivan Ilyich came later, and I loved it, but I only read it as a class requirement. I've wondered if it was a maturity thing, but there's been so much else to read and enjoy that I haven't taken the time to go back and try some more Tolstoy.
Stuartp523
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Re: The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by Stuartp523 »

Tolstoy and Sartre, two existential authors that got disillusioned with writing fiction.
reasonvemotion
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Re: The Art of Leo Tolstoy

Post by reasonvemotion »

Tolstoy and Sartre, two existential authors that got disillusioned with writing fiction.



Lets start with Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina. I felt forboding all the way through this book and it didn't disappoint. It highlights the tragic consequences of a woman who responds only to her inner emotions, punished for this with her death. Tolstoy tried vehemently to crush the spirit of his wife and in a way he did, but not completely, but she suffered immensely along the way for her strength to withstand him.

Sartre

Is scorned as a misogynist: Angela Carter once commented, "There is one question that every thinking woman in the western world must have asked herself at one time or another. Why is a nice girl like Simone de Beauvoir sucking up to a boring old fart like Jean-Paul Sartre?" I have only read The Age of Reason, without satisfaction.


You may argue that both being misogynists, (as I include Tolstoy in this category as well) have no bearing on their ability to write. That is true, but this flaw in their makeup creeps into their work and for me, it just doesnt appeal.



May I introduce Henry into this debate.

Henry Miller

"To those who would argue that Miller is misogynistic, perhaps, perhaps. But rather than seeing him as anti-woman, I choose to see him as pro-sex, and pro-kindness, and anti-cruelty, and anti-capitalist, and apolitical, and pro-artist, and anti-conformity. I have read the "Tropic" books and have zero criticism of Henry. J'adore Henri.
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