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"A good book is the precious life-blood of a Master Spirit, 
embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond 
life." — Milton, Areopagitica. 



By Charles Hall Grandgent, Professor of 
Romance Languages in Harvard University. 


By George Rapall Notes, Associate Pro- 
fessor of Slavic Languages in the University 
of California. 


By Rudolph Schevill/ Professor of Spanish in 
the University of California. (In preparation.) 


By Raymond Macdonald Alden, Professor 
of English in Stanford University. (In prep- 


By H. W. Prescott, Professor of Classical 
Philology in the University of Chicago. (In 



By Paul Shorey, Professor of Greek in the 
University of Chicago. 


By Curtis Hidden Page, Professor of Eng- 
lish in Dartmouth College. 

GOETHE. {To be arranged.) 







Copyright, 1918, by 

MAR -6 1918 




Preface xiii 

Chapter I. Introduction. — Tolstoy's fame. Tolstoy a typical 
Russian. His ancestry. Life of the Russian nobility. Tol- 
stoy's temperament. Education. Military service in tin- 
Caucasus. Aspirations for self-perfection. Attitude towards 
religion. Reading. Influence of Rousseau. Tolstoy's lack 
of the literary temperament :* 

Chapter II. Early Works. — Publication of Childhood. Literary 
qualities of Childfiood, Boyhood, and Youth. Its autobio- 
graphic nature. Genius for observation. Description of 
nature and of men and women. Analysis of character. 
Possible influence of Rousseau. Sincerity. Preoccupation 
with moral problems. Absence of interest in religious dogmas. 
Somber tone. Emphasis on vanity. Democratic sympathies. 
High seriousness. — Tolstoy's service in the Crimean war. 
His Sevastopol. Picture of war as suffering and death. 
Analysis of minor feelings. Officers and common soldiers. 
Tolstoy's hero the truth. Emphasis on individual feeling. 
Interest in religion. Tolstoy's originality. His influence. — 
The Cossacks. Contrast with Pushkin. Attitude towards 
nature. Maryana 24 

Chapter HI. Life and Work: 1855-62.— Political life in Russia 
after the Crimean war. Official Nationalists, Liberals, So- 
cialists, Slavophiles. Tolstoy's attitude towards each party. 
His association with the Contemporary. The social importance 
of Russian literature. Tolstoy's account of the Contemporary 
group. — Love affair. Family Happiness. Trip abroad, 
1857. Witnesses execution in Paris. The Countess Alexandra 
Tolstoy. Lucerne. Albert. Return to Russia. Three Deaths. 



Becomes a member of the Society of Lovers of Russian Litera- 
ture in Moscow. Life on home estate. Bear hunt. Pause in 
literary work. Trip abroad, 1860-61. Study of popular 
education. Death of Tolstoy's brother Nikolay. Polikushka. 
Tolstoy and Turgenev. Their quarrel. Tolstoy and the 
emancipation of the serfs. His work as arbiter of the peace. 
Search of his premises by the police. Marriage to Sophia 
Behrs 54 

Chapter IV. Tolstoy as an Educator. — Tolstoy's enthusiasm 
for popular education and work on it. List of his educational 
writings. His doctrines. Modern education is bad in being 
based on compulsion. There is no general agreement as to the 
aims and methods of education. Progress is a false criterion 
of education. Evils of compulsory education and benefits of 
free education. Freedom is the only criterion of a school pro- 
gram, experience the only test of methods of teaching. 
Arousing interest is the only important principle of pedagogy. 
Methods of teaching reading. Tolstoy's definition of educa- 
tion. Education should bring about equality of knowledge, 
but must not interfere with human character. False, social 
aims of education. Critique of a government project for 
popular schools. Tolstoy's description of his own school. 
Tribute by one of his pupils. Teaching of grammar. Of 
composition. Tolstoy's tribute to a pupil. Teaching of 
literature. Work on text-books. Little Philip. Teaching of 
art. The standards of the common people superior to those 
of the educated. Influence of Rousseau on Tolstoy's views of 
education. Tolstoy's individualism in education. Critique 
of his abhorrence of compulsion in education and of his 
rejection of the Liberals' ideal of progress. Tolstoy and the 
Slavophiles. His individualism is combined with an ideal of 
service 87 

Chapter V. Life: 1862-78. — Tolstoy's happy married life. 
Linen-Measurer. Work on War and Peace. Tolstoy's habits 
of work. His farming. He defends a soldier before a court. 
Home life in the Tolstoy household. Aunt Tatyana. En- 
thusiasm for Schopenhauer. Study of Greek. Trip to the 
province of Samara. Buys estate there. Work on relief of 
famine there, 1873. Attitude towards religion. Indignation 
at being put under arrest. Plan for settling in England, 



Preparations for novel on the times of Peter the Gwt . 
Anna Karenin. The I)n: mbrists. Tolstoy's friend*. Pet 
und Stnikhov. Acquaintance with Chaykovsky. Reeoneili.i- 
tion with Turgenev 128 

CHAPTER VI. "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenin."— Tol- 
stoy's fame as a novelist rests on these two books. Unconven- 
tional character of War and Peace. Its superficial lack of unity. 
Different elements in it. (1) Home life. Natasha Rostov. 
Nikolay Rostov. Sonya. Prince Nikolay Bolkonsky. The 
Kuragins. (2) Picture of military life. Absence of heroes. 
Impotence of Napoleon. Contrast of Tolstoy with Sir Walter 
Seott. (3) Philosophy of History. Fatalism. Free will and 
determinism. Lack of real historic interest in Tolstoy. (-1) 
Views on personal conduct. Prince Andrey Bolkonsky. 
Pierre Bezukhov. Platon Karatayev. — Anna Karenin. 
Moral point of view more dominating. Greater unity than in 
War and Peace. Apparent waste of good material. Uncon- 
ventional traits in novel. Its living character. Lack of 
eloquent conversation. Tolstoy's emphasis on the spiritual 
life. His changed view of war. His attitude towards his 
characters. Meaning of the motto of the novel. Levin as a 
reproduction of Tolstoy. Anna and Levin 158 

Chapter VII. The Crisis; the Religious System. — Tolstoy's 
autobiography in My Confession. His education in the faith 
of the Russian Orthodox Church. Early loss of religious 
faith. Faith in self-perfection. The question of the meaning 
of life. This is solved, not by scientists or philosophers or 
men of education, but by the toiling masses of humanity. 
Tolstoy's return to the church of the Russian peasants. The 
hypocrisy and the immoral teaching of this church. Tolstoy 
leaves it, and seeks to discover the central teachings of 
Christianity. Analysis of the causes of Tolstoy's conversion. 
His interest is in practical ethics, not in theology. Tolstoy's 
first religious works. Critique of Dramatic Theology. Har- 
mony and Translation of the Four Gospels. My Religion. 
Tolstoy's theology: God, eternal life. Rejection of temporal 
immortality. On Life. Later return to faith in immortality. 
Tolstoy's ethics. The five commandments. Christian 
anarchy. Criticism of Tolstoy's use of the Gospels. Dis- 
tinguishing traits of Tolstoy's ethical system: individualism. 



dislike of civilization, pessimism, asceticism, love. Formal 
classification of Tolstoy's ethical system 205 

Chapter VIII. Life: 1878-1910. — Gloom resulting from re- 
ligious conversion. Letter to Alexander III. Tolstoy re- 
fuses to serve on a jury. The stumbling-block of property. 
Efforts at compromise. Tolstoy makes his property over to 
his family. Struggles between family affection and religious 
principle. And the Light Shineth in Darkness. Life in 
Moscow. City poverty. Syutayev. What Shall We Do Then? 
Influence of socialistic thought on Tolstoy. Critique of 
Tolstoy's social theories. His own efforts to apply them. 
Home life. Work on famine relief, 1891-93. Visits to 
Optin Monastery. Tolstoy's new associates, Chertkov and 
Biryukov. Work on literature for the common people. The 
Dukhobors. Writing of Resurrection. Tolstoy's letters to 
Verigin. The single-tax system. Sympathy for Liberals and 
Socialists. Attempt to confine Tolstoy in a monastery. The 
Synod proclaims him a heretic. His reply. The Kingdom 
of God Is Within You. Views on patriotism. Later religious 
works. Course of Reading. Tolstoy's never-ending youth. 
Advice to a vagrant. 255 

Chapter IX. Later Artistic Works; "What is Art"? — Rela- 
tions with Turgenev. Turgenev's last letter to Tolstoy. Tol- 
stoy's projected speech in honor of Turgenev. Moral tales. 
Later realistic work. The Death of Ivdn Ilyich. Master and 
Man. The Power of Darkness. Condemnation of women. The 
Kreutzer Sonata. Tolstoy on the sex instinct. Father Sergy. 
The Devil. The Fruits of Enlightenment. Resurrection. 
Correspondence with Bellows. The Living Corpse. Hadji 
Murad. — What is Art ? Beauty not a necessary element of art. 
Art defined as the conscious transfer of emotion. The religious 
character of art in the narrower sense. This lost in modern 
times. Condemnation of modern esthetic theories. Sound- 
ness of Tolstoy's principle. The impoverishment of modern 
art. Its obscurity. Its insincerity. Its methods of com- 
pensating for its insincerity. True art is distinguished by 
its infectiousness. In our time true art must be Christian 
art. Summary of Tolstoy's esthetic system. Its validity de- 
pends on that of his ethics. Its permanent value. Its 



connection wilh Ins own practice. — Preface to the Works of 
Guy dc Maupassant. On Shakespeare and the Drama. . . . 30i 

ChaPTBB X. Conclusion. — Tolstoy's departure from home 
His death. — Is Tolstoy a Master Spirit of Literatim? UU 
position in Russia. EBfl aniveraal tame. Tolstoy ■ master 

of realism. His importance as B writer on religion and mufffllff 
His union of the esthetic and the moralistic views of life. 
His personality. The ant brothers. The green stick. . . . 

Bibliography 3G7 

Index 373 


The purpose of this book is to give a connected view 
of Tolstoy's many-sided literary work, with such facts 
as to his life as may serve to shed light on that work 
and on the personality of the man who produced it. The 
lx>ok does not attempt to chronicle in detail the events of 
Tolstoy's life, or to furnish information as to each of his 
minor bits of writing; it avoids digressions on the mem- 
bers of his family and other persons associated with him. 

The materials for the volume are primarily Tolstoy's 
published writings, letters, and diaries. In particular, 
I have made much use of his correspondence with the 
Countess Alexandra Andreyevna Tolstoy, and of his 
letters to his wife, both of which books have appeared 
in print since the lives of Tolstoy by Biryuk6v, Maude, 
Dole, and Rolland. For the events of Tolstoy's life I 
have relied mainly on Biryukov and, for his later years, 
on Maude. Despite the fact that I have been at work 
on this volume, at irregular intervals, for a dozen years, 
I cannot profess to have made use of all the accessible 
materials. Most important, the diary of Tolstoy's 
early years, 1847-52, reached me too late to be of 
service. I do not think, however, that the materials 
with which I am unacquainted would modify my opin- 


ions on any vital questions. The main course of Tol- 
stoy's life, and the development of his artistic genius 
and of his thought, are clear and plain; new reading 
supplies for the most part only fresh illustrations of 
what was already known. 

The system of transliterating Russian names that I 
have adopted is, with very small variations, that recom- 
mended for "popular" use by the School of Russian 
Studies in the University of Liverpool. The accent 
of Russian names is most frequently, though by no 
means regularly, on the next to the last syllable; it 
has been indicated in this book whenever it does not 
fall on that syllable. In this matter I have followed the 
excellent precedent set by Mr. Dole. The name Tol- 
stoy, however, has been left unmarked: in Russian it 
is accented on the last syllable; whether it should be 
so accented in English is a question of taste. 

The translations from Tolstoy and other Russian 
writers given in the text are my own, with the excep- 
tion of occasional passages of which the Russian originals 
were not accessible to me. In these cases the source of 
the translation is duly indicated. 

Dates are given in new style, that used in all English- 
speaking countries. For the nineteenth century this is 
twelve days and for the twentieth thirteen days in ad- 
vance of the Russian calendar. Thus, August 28 (Rus- 
sian style), the birthday of Tolstoy, corresponds to 
September 9 (new style) in the nineteenth century and 
to September 10 in the twentieth. 


My work has been made far easier by the use of Pro- 
fessor Wiener's wonderfully complete and accurate 
translation of Tolstoy's works, with its indexes and 
bibliographic material. For the right to use numerous 
quotations from copyright works I am indebted to the 
courtesy and kindness of the following publishers: The 
Century Company (Reminiscejices of Tolstoy ; by his son 
Count Eyd Tolstoy); Dodd, Mead and Company (The 
Life of Tolstoy, by Aylmer Maude); Alfred A. Knopf 
(The Journal of Leo Tolstoi, 1895-1899); G. P. Put- 
nam's Sons (The Stewardship of Faith, by Kirsopp Lake). 

Some paragraphs of this book reproduce in essentials 
portions of my own articles on Tolstoy as a Man of 
Letters (in the University of California Chronicle, April, 
1911) and The Essential Elements in Tolstoy's Ethical 
System (in Anniversary Papers by Colleagues and Pupils 
of George Lyman Kittredge, Boston, 1913). My treat- 
ment of Tolstoy's What is Art? is founded on suggestions 
from Mr. Ian Ozoiin, to whom I gratefully acknowledge 
my debt. To my colleague, Professor G. P. Adams, 
and to Mr. F. A. Postnikov I owe some suggestions as to 
the analysis of Tolstoy's ethical system. The foot- 
notes acknowledge some further obligations to critics of 

My colleagues, Professor W. M. Hart and Mr. A. S. 
Kaun, have read this book in manuscript and have given 
me many helpful suggestions, for which I am heartily 
grateful to them. My greatest debt of gratitude, how- 
ever, is due to my wife, who has given me invaluable 


aid in revising the text of the work, which without 
her cooperation would be far more imperfect than it 
is. She also assumed the very serious task of preparing 
the index to the volume. 





(OUNT LEO TOLSTOY is the greatest and 

the most many-sided figure in the literature of 

Russia, and he is the representative of that 

country who has been the most powerful force 

in the literature of the world. Other Russian WTiters, 

such as Pushkin and Turgenev before him, and Dostoyev- 

sky and Gorky since his day, have won international 

fame, but their popularity has been restricted, for the 

most part, to professed lovers of literature. Tolstoy 

was the first and only Russian to reach the great reading 

public of other countries, and to become known and 

loved by the average man as well as by literary experts. 

During the last twenty years of his life he was the 

best-known citizen of the world of thought; his portrait 

and the general type of his personality were as familiar 

as those of his antithesis, Prince Bismarck. When he 

died in 1910 no writer remained whose fame could even 

distantly be compared with his own. Works by him 



been translated into almost all civilized languages and 
had been read by millions of men and women, from 
academicians to peasants and factory laborers. It is 
safe to say that no other author has ever attained during 
his own lifetime such universal fame as Tolstoy. 

Yet Tolstoy was intensely Russian in his tempera- 
ment and in the most striking qualities of his genius. 
His unflinching realism, the unpoetic form and the un- 
romantic tone of all his work, his habitual neglect of 
conventional literary technique, his hatred of all com- 
promise, his enthusiastic adoption of a revolutionary re- 
ligious ancf social philosophy, the spirit of universal 
brotherly love that fills his works, are all qualities that, 
though far from peculiar to Russia, may justly be called 
national, Russian traits. 

Russian by temperament, Tolstoy described in his 
writings, with insignificant exceptions, only Russian 
life, and furthermore those sides of Russian life with 
which he was familiar by personal experience. For- 
tunately that experience included the classes most typical 
of Russia. His works will preserve for all time a pano- 
rama of Russian life from the time of the conflict of the 
peasant empire with Napoleon at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century to the beginnings of the industrial 
revolution within it at the close of that century. His 
religious and social works are quite as Russian in topic 
as his novels; they derive their strength and their 
weakness from the intensely personal character of the 
observation of life on which they are based. 


This Russian temperament was Tolstoy's rightful 
inheritance. His father and his mother both belonged 
to the highest Russian nobility. The Tolstoy family, 
to be sure, are said to have been descended from a Ger- 
man who came to Russia in the fourteenth century, but 
the tradition, even if true, is of no moment; the whole 
line has been Russian to the core. The first member 
of the family to attain distinction was Peter Tolstoy, a 
favorite of Peter the Great, who, in reward for services 
more brilliant than honorable, conferred on him the 
title of count. His great-grandson, Count Ilya Tolstoy, 
was the grandfather of the novelist, who used him as a 
model for the elder Count Rost6v in War and Peace. 
When Count Ilya died, leaving an estate encumbered 
by debt, his son Nikolay, in order to be able to support 
his widowed mother, his sister, and a distant relative, 
Tatyana Ergolsky, who was a dependent in the family, 
married the wealthy but unprepossessing Princess Marya 
Volkonsky. The situation, naturally with some changes 
of detail, is reproduced in War and Peace. In contrast 
to the family of Tolstoy's father, who seem to have been 
plain, simple-hearted country squires, the Volkonskys 
were distinguished for intellectual brilliancy. Their 
family is descended from Rurik, the founder of the 
Russian empire, through the princes of Chernigov; it 
has been constantly prominent in Russian state affairs 
and in Russian court society. Of all the great Russian 
authors, Pushkin alone was of a social station comparable 
to that of Tolstoy. Nor was Tolstoy indifferent to his 


origin. Aristocratic traditions and pride of race shine 
forth through all his works, even through those of his 
latest years, in which he preaches absolute humility and 
the rejection of all social distinctions. His accents are 
not those of a parvenu or a peasant prophet. One may 
repeat of him what has been well said of Lucretius, that 
his work "shows all the courage and energy, the power 
of command, the sense of superiority and the direct 
simplicity of manner emanating from it, which are the 
inheritance of a great governing class."* 

Leo (Lev Nikolayevich) Tolstoy was born on Septem- 
ber 9 (August 28, old style), 1828, at Yasnaya Polyana, 
a family estate of the Volkonskys, in the province of 
Tula, near the center of European Russia. He had 
three brothers older than himself, Nikolay, Sergey, and 
Dmitry, and a younger sister Marya. The Countess 
Tolstoy died in 1830, in giving birth to her daughter. 
Seven years later the children lost their father as 
well, and were left to the care of guardians and 

Thus Leo Tolstoy grew up in a family of Russian gentry 
of the purest type. Among such people could be found 
whatever was good in Russian traditions and culture. 
The society of which they formed a part was not unlike 
that of the aristocratic families in the southern states 
of our own country before the Civil War. A class of 
wealthy landowners was supported by the labor of 

* Sellar:— The Roman Poets of the Augustan Age: Virgil (Oxford, 
1877), p. 203. 


serfs, who cultivated the broad acres extending around 
the ancestral manor, and with whom their relations were 
on the whole kindly and patriarchal. In the manor the 
owners led a life of free, open-handed hospitality. 
For them country life consisted partly of work, in the 
superintendence of their estates, partly of sport, in 
hunting game with hounds. Those of them who were 
at all prosperous spent only the summer at their manors; 
the winter they passed at their city residences in St. 
Petersburg or Moscow, leading a society life of parties, 
theaters, and dinners such as is the common portion of 
the dwellers in all European capitals. Since no gentle- 
man could engage in commerce or industry without a 
certain loss of caste, and since even professional life was 
not in favor, these nobles could choose no occupation 
except service under the government, and a career in 
the army was reckoned more honorable than one in the 
civil service. In either case, through his social con- 
nections, each man of fair talent was assured of a pros- 
perous career. 

Such is the society that Tolstoy describes in his 
novels, not departing from it until his religious con- 
version gave him new interests and new points of view. 
The world of Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth; War and 
Peace; and Anna Karenin, is composed of wealthy, 
idle aristocrats and toiling peasants. The city is a great 
amusement park, in which the only workers, if we ex- 
cept coachmen and domestic servants, are the holders 
of government positions. Other laborers there may be, 


but they have not yet attracted Tolstoy's attention. In 
Anna Karenin he shows his distinct dislike of the whole 
merchant class. In the country, on the other hand, the 
humbler folk come to their own; the huntsmen with 
whom Nikolay Rostov lies in wait for wolves, the 
reapers beside whom Levin toils in the hay field, are 
beings with a definite character, men whom Tolstoy 
has known and loved. 

Such a social order will in every country produce the 
same results. On the one hand are courtesy, kindliness, 
refinement of the truest sort, coupled with an abiding 
faith in the excellence of the conditions that have 
fostered this same refinement and high breeding. On 
the reverse of the medal are drunkenness, lechery, and 
a callous indifference to the sufferings of persons less 
fortunate by birth. In such an environment indi- 
viduality may develop unchecked; there is no dull gray 
level of democratic uniformity. Many men may de- 
generate into rakes or servile courtiers; a few may 
become thinkers, originators of new ideas, preachers of 
new moral doctrines. 

In the case of Tolstoy the checks upon the develop- 
ment of individuality were even fewer than with most 
young Russian nobles. Until the age of sixteen he was 
educated at home by private tutors, and was thus free 
from that constant contact with comrades of his own 
age and station which in an English or American school 
trims away personal eccentricities and accustoms a boy 
to cooperation with his fellows. His personality was 


molded only by association with his relatives and with 
their aristocratic friends. 

Tolstoy's temperament in boyhood was passionate, 
jealous, vain, but affectionate, impressionable, aspiring, 
and truth-seeking; truth-telling also, to himself if not 
always to others. He worked intermittently, as the fit 
came upon him; neither then nor at any later time 
would he persevere in a task that proved uncongenial. 
From his tutors he acquired little systematic book- 
learning; but from them, and from practice in society, 
he gained a fine command of French and German. He 
prided himself particularly on the elegance of his French, 
the mark in Russia of a polished gentleman. Later in 
life he became well acquainted with English. 

Tolstoy's youthful years were outwardly neither 
striking nor edifying. In 1844 he entered the Uni- 
versity of Kazan, being enrolled first in the Division of 
Arabo-Turkish Literature and later in the Faculty of 
Law. He did no studying of consequence and became 
filled with an intense and lasting disgust for the formal 
requirements of the university, its methods of instruc- 
tion, and its influence on the students. These ideas he 
sets forth in an article on Education and Culture, pub- 
lished in 1862. The following quotation will show its 
general tone: 

Almost always, from the point of view of the students, the 
lectures are a mere formality, indispensable only in view of 
the examination. The majority of the students during their 
stay at the university, do not study the prescribed subjects, 


but others, the program of which is determined by some club 

that they happen to join Here all is prescribed not in 

accordance with its real value, but in proportion to the severity 
with which it is forbidden by the authorities. I have seen in 
students' rooms heaps of manuscript volumes beyond com- 
parison larger than the entire requirements of the four years' 
course, and among them thick copybooks of the most disgusting 
poems of Pushkin and the most stupid and colorless poems of 
Ryleyev. Another favorite occupation consists of meetings 
and discussions about the most various and important topics; 
such as the restoration of the independence of Little Russia, 
the spread of literacy among the peasantry, or the playing of 

some cooperative trick on a professor or inspector All 

this is sometimes ridiculous, but is often attractive, touching, 
and poetic, as idle young men often are. 

Tolstoy did become interested, however, in a dis- 
sertation upon the influence of Montesquieu on the legis- 
lation of Catherine II. Of this he writes: "It opened 
to me a new field of independent intellectual work, but 
the University with its requirements not only did not 
contribute to such work, but hindered it."* Thus 
his newly awakened intellectual enthusiasm was one 
cause of his abandoning the University of Kazan in 
1847, without completing his course. 

In the year after leaving Kazan, Tolstoy went to St. 
Petersburg, where, after wavering between an impulse 
to enter the army and a desire to complete his university 
course, he attempted to take the graduation examina- 
tions at the University of St. Petersburg. After a 
*Biryuk6v: 1,131. 


week's cramming, he passed in civil and criminal law. 
"Then all my good resolutions went to pieces. Spring 
came, and the charm of country life drew me back to 
my estate."* The next three years were perhaps tl it- 
least admirable in his life. They were spent partly at 
Yasnaya Polyana, where he started a school for the 
peasants and made futile efforts to organize his estate 
on philanthropic principles such as he later described in 
A Morning of a Landed Proprietor (1856), partly in so- 
ciety life in Moscow. Despite ideal aspirations and 
an attempt to do good to his peasants, his outward 
existence was much the same as that of other wealthy 
young Russians; he drank, was loose in his conduct 
with women, gambled and involved himself in debt. 
But he was ill at ease, and eager to escape from the 
temptations of a purposeless life. When, in April, 1851, 
his brother Nikolay, who had been serving as an officer 
in the Caucasus, returned home on a furlough, he seized 
the opportunity to accompany him on his return to the 
army. There he was presented to Prince Baryatinsky, 
the commander in chief, who, observing his conduct 
during an expedition against the mountaineers, com- 
plimented him on his bravery and urged him to join the 
service. Accordingly, early in 1852 he became a yunker, 
or volunteer officer. The next two years, up to the 
outbreak of the war between Russia and Turkey, he 
spent mainly in the Cossack villages of Starogladkovskava 
and Stary Yurt, leading a life such as he described 
* Biryukov: I, loi. 


later in The Cossacks. The Russians were engaged in 
guerilla warfare with tribes of mountaineers who had 
never submitted to the imperial authority. They were 
slowly pressing upon them, destroying their villages and 
above all felling the forests that shielded them from 
attack. Between these expeditions the officers had 
ample time for hunting and for sport of all sorts with the 
Cossack borderers among whom they were quartered. 

The real biography of Tolstoy in these years that 
led up to his first literary work is found in his intellectual 
and spiritual life, which is revealed to us with sufficient 
clearness in his letters and in his diary. Here we see 
the moral aspirations that were to give depth to his fiction 
and to find full expression in the didactic works of his later 
years. Of this period he later wrote in his Confession: 

My only real faith at that time was faith in self-perfection. 
But in what self-perfection consisted and what was the aim of 
it I could not have said. I tried to perfect myself intellectually 
— I studied everything that I could and everything with which 
life brought me in contact; I tried to perfect my will — I com- 
posed rules for myself that I tried to follow; I perfected myself 
physically, developing my strength and agility by all sorts of 
exercises and training myself to endurance and patience by all 
sorts of privations. And all this I regarded as self-perfection. 
The beginning of all was, of course, moral perfection, but that 
was soon replaced by perfection in general, that is, by the 
desire to be better not with regard to myself or with regard 
to God, but by the desire to be better with regard to other men. 
And very soon this striving to be better with regard to men was 
replaced by a desire to be stronger than other men; that is, 


more famous, more important, richer than others. — [Ch. 1. 
Compare pp. 20.3-8, lo8, below.] 

Quite in accord with this is the following passage from 
his diary, written at about the time of his leaving the 
University of Kazan: 

The aim of life is a conscious striving for the development on 
all sides of everything that exists. 

The aim of my life in the country for the next two years is: 
(1) To master the whole course of the legal sciences neces- 
sary for the final examinations at the University. (2) To 
master practical medicine and a portion of theoretic medicine. 
(3) To master the French, Russian, German, English, Italian, 
and Latin languages. (4) To learn agriculture, both theoreti- 
cally and practically. (5) To learn history, geography, and 
statistics. (6) To learn mathematics, the gymnasium course. 
(7) To write a dissertation. (8) To reach a higher degree 
of perfection in music and painting. (9) To write rules for 
myself. (10) To gain some knowledge of the natural sciences. 
(11) To write treatises or. all the subjects that I shall study. — 
[Biryukov: I, 145.] 

Milton himself was not more ambitious in his plans 
for self -improvement ! Tolstoy was ultimately to rise 
on stepping-stones of his dead self to higher things, 
but for a time his movement seemed downward rather 
than upward. The unregenerate animal often prevailed. 
Only a year later, after his fiasco at St. Petersburg, lie 
wrote to his brother: 

Serezha, I think that you are already saying that I am "an 
absolutely worthless fellow," and you are telling the truth. 


Lord knows what things I have done! I went to St. Peters- 
burg without any reason whatever, and I did nothing useful 
there; merely squandered heaps of money and got into debt. — 
[Biryukov: I, 154.] 

This union of high aspiration with an irregular and 
sordid outward existence is of course peculiar to no age 
or nation, but it is certainly more common among 
the dreamy and emotional Russians than among our 
own well-disciplined and practical folk. Life in America 
tends towards a consistent dead level of Philistine 
respectability, above which it is dangerous to aspire. 
One must be as moral as society demands and as out- 
wardly successful as is possible within the limits of that 
morality. Standards in Russia are more elastic, granting 
to all classes of society an easy charity such as we 
extend only to Bohemian artists. So long as a man is 
an agreeable companion and observes a conventional 
code of honor, his private life is his own concern. The 
looseness of standards that results from this point of 
view shocks a traveler of Puritan antecedents. On 
the other hand fine impulses of kindliness and un- 
selfishness, generous enthusiasms of all sorts, play 
a larger part in the Russian nature than in our 

In his serious groping after a moral law by which to 
guide his life Leo Tolstoy was not alone in his family. 
His sister Mary a became a nun in her later years. His 
brother Dmitry, after leading almost an ascetic life, 
suddenly degenerated into debauchery; then, in a 


characteristic access of nubility, he ransomed from a 
brothel the firsl woman he had known and kepi her 
with him until his death. His career is reflected in that 
of Nikolay Levin in Anna Karenin. 

Tolstoy's struggles with himself at this period were 
not religious in the narrower sense. In his Confession he 
writes : 

After the age of sixteen I ceased to kneel in prayer and ol 
my own accord ceased to go to church and to prepare for the 
sacrament. I did not believe in what had been taught me from 
my childhood, but I did believe in something. In what I 
believed I should have been absolutely unable to say. I even 
believed in God, or rather I did not deny God — but in 
what God I should not have been able to say. Neither 
did I deny Christ and his teaching, but in what Ins teach- 
ing consisted I should also have been unable to say. — 
[Ch. 1J 

This agrees with what is known of him from other 
sources. In a letter to his "Aunt Tatyana," written 
January 18, 1852, he told her, with no apparent sense 
of incongruity, how he had made a fervent prayer to 
God to extricate him from a gambling debt — a prayer 
heard and answ T ered by a benevolent deity. His kins- 
woman the Countess Alexandra Tolstoy remarks of him 
as he appeared in 1857: "At that time he was by no 
means an opponent of the church; and, seeing us all 
preparing for confession, he started to do so himself — in 
which, however, he did not succeed."* As to the future 

* Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. G. 


life he wrote to this same kinswoman in 1859, referring to 
his stay in the Caucasus: 

That was both a torturing and a good period of my life .... 
All that I discovered then will forever remain my convic- 
tion From two years of mental toil I found out a simple 

old thing, but one which I know as no one else does — I found 
out that immortality exists, that love exists, and that one must 
live for others in order to be eternally happy.* 

Yet in the next year, writing to the same correspondent, 
he denies any faith in immortality: "It seems to me 
that it is impossible to believe in that sincerely; it 
would be too good!" f In general, not even the most 
fundamental dogmas ever occupied Tolstoy's mind so 
much as questions of practical morality. 

Tolstoy's choice of reading during this formative 
period gives clear indications of his personal character, 
of his intellectual convictions, and of certain features 
of his artistic genius. The books which he states had 
"immense" influence on him were: the Sermon on the 
Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, Rousseau's Con- 
fessions and Emile, and Dickens's David Copperfield; 
those that had "very great" influence were Sterne's 
Sentimental Journey, Rousseau's Nouvelle Heloise, Push- 
kin's Eugene Onegin, Schiller's Robbers, Gogol's Dead 
Souls, Turgenev's Sportsman's Sketches, Grigorovich's 
Anton Goremylca, and Lermontov's Hero of our Time; 
while some of Gogol's short stories and Prescott's 

* Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 131. 
f Ibid., p. 142. 


Conquest of Mexico had "great" influence. It is note- 
worthy that in this list the Sermon on tin* Mount stands 
at the very top. The precepts of brotherly love, of uni- 
versal forgiveness, of non-resistance to evil, were already 
dear to Tolstoy's heart. They constituted his ideal 
all through his life, however much his conduct may have 
fallen short of them. 

Next to the Gospel Tolstoy places the work of Rous- 
seau, which was perhaps even more potent in molding 
his ideas. Of Rousseau he once said: 

Men have been unjust to Rousseau, the grandeur of Ins 
thought has not been recognized, he has been slandered in 
all sorts of ways. I have read all Rousseau, all the twenty 
volumes, including the Dictionary qf Music. I was more than 
delighted with him; I adored him. At the age of fifteen I 
wore around my neck, instead of the customary cross, a me- 
dallion with his portrait. Many of his pages are so near to me 
that it seems to me that I wrote them myself. — [Biryuk6v: I, 
2G9, 270.] 

This statement is fundamental for any understanding 
of Tolstoy. One must then inquire what were the aspects 
of Rousseau's genius that most appealed to him. One may 
place first of all Rousseau's hatred of artificiality, pre- 
tence, and convention; his praise of whatever is natural. 
With this doctrine Tolstoy was sympathetic by tem- 
perament; it underlies every page of his own writing 
from the very beginning of his work. To it he was not 
always true in practice: vanity was a sin against which 


he constantly struggled, and in Youth he satirizes his 
own eagerness to comply with the most petty con- 
ventions of society dress. Not less in accord with his 
mode of thought was Rousseau's praise of the country 
and his hatred of the city. For Tolstoy the country 
was the place of wholesome work and pure enjoyment, 
the city was that of perverted pleasure. Finally, Rous- 
seau's panegyric on home life in La Nouvelle Heloise ap- 
pealed to Tolstoy's deepest convictions; delight in home 
life breathes from every page of Childhood, and is the 
ruling passion of War and Peace and Anna Karenin. 

The fact that the Confessions and Entile are singled 
out as having been of "immense" influence is significant. 
The absolute frankness of the Confessions (whether real 
or apparent need not be discussed here) harmonized 
with Tolstoy's aspirations and doubtless affected his 
own literary methods. Unlike other narrators of their 
own development, Rousseau does not confine himself 
to the nobler sides of his own character or to his winning 
and attractive human failings; to his sins he lends no 
air of romance; he tells candidly of base, ignoble deeds, 
of cowardice, ingratitude, and deceit. This method of 
self-revelation Tolstoy brought to perfection in his 
novels. We like his heroes despite their creator's frank- 
ness rather than because of it. 

In Emile, his treatise on education, Rousseau makes 
his guiding principle the unfolding and developing of 
the natural powers, free from the corrupting influence 
of society. "A truly natural man desires to do only 


what is within his power, and docs what is pleasing to 
him." Books are set aside until a comparatively late 
period; true education is derived from experience and 
from intercourse with one's fellows. Furthermore, a 
democratic ideal pervades the book; the rich young 
aristocrat Emile is made to associate familiarly with his 
peasant neighbors, and has to learn a trade, as a pre- 
caution against possible loss of wealth. To each of these 
principles Tolstoy eagerly responded. That he had an 
early interest in the problems of education is shown by 
his abortive experiment of 1849; when he later took up 
in earnest the trade of schoolmaster he worked in the 
spirit of Rousseau. 

With Rousseau's attack on civilization as the cause 
of more evil than good Tolstoy came to have ever greater 
sympathy as his years advanced. A long list could be 
made of minor doctrines of Rousseau with which he 
was in agreement, such for example as his dislike of 
medicine and doctors and his abhorrence of the evils 
worked on peasants by taxation. Most important, 
Tolstoy, brought up on Rousseau, remained an intui- 
tionist and an emotionalist all his life. He never ac- 
quired any admiration for the methods of experimental 
science as applied to the study of human society. In 
this respect he was a man of the eighteenth century. 

Even Rousseau's sentimentality was at this period of 
his life not uncongenial to Tolstoy, as is shown sufficiently 
by the fact that he coupled Sterne's Sentimental Journey 
with La Xouuelle Ucloixc at the head of the books that 


had "very great" influence on him. The fact is at first 
surprising. Rousseau was half an invalid, dreamy, 
morbid, a recluse and a hypochondriac; Tolstoy was 
strong, healthy, fond of society, a lover of energetic 
physical life. His doctrine that "calm is spiritual base- 
ness "* is at the other pole from the sentimental languor 
of Rousseau. He had, however, a constant tendency to 
self -analysis, and a keen delight in the minute record of 
his own sensations, traits which are prominent through- 
out his work, though they never lead to the sickly, hot- 
house sentimentality that makes La Nouvelle Helalse so 
unpalatable to modern readers. At times he was prone 
to tears. To this weakness he refers when in a letter 
of 1852 he calls himself "Cry-baby Leo."t But his 
sobs were bursts of grief interspersed amid active play or 
work, very unlike the plaintive wail of Rousseau. This 
side of his nature he seems to have partially suppressed 
with advancing years; his son Ilya speaks of his aversion 
for outward manifestations of feeling.} Yet the same 
witness tells how his father once sobbed with emotion 
during a talk with him.§ 

In this list of reading works of fiction have rather a 
subordinate place, and those actually mentioned ap- 
parently interested Tolstoy by their undying ideas 
rather than by their excellence of style and literary 
form. In David Copperfield, if one may hazard a con- 

* Correspondence with Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 94. 
fBiryukov: I, 189. J See p. 138, below. 

§ Count Hyd, Tolstoy: Reminiscences of Tolstoy, p. 319. 


lecture, lie was attracted by the touching picture of 

child life Ul the earlier chapters and by the adulation of 
the home that runs through the novel, rather than by the 
melodramatic plot. Tolstoy never ceased to regard 
Dickens as the greatest of English authors, remarking 
that "Gogol resembled him in humor, but had not his 
broad humane sympathies."* Throughout his life, 
though he corrected his own works with great care, Tol- 
stoy was almost indifferent to questions of formal style 
and literary technique. Of criticism he wrote nothing 
until after his religious conversion, and then only as a 
sort of corollary to his religious system. In his early 
writings one may find the ideas and the frankness of 
his idol Rousseau, but very few traces of the literary 
technique of either Rousseau or Dickens or Sterne. 

In a word, Tolstoy, great literary genius though he 
was, was mercifully free from what we commonly term 
the literary temperament; he cared for the substance 
of life more than he did for its reflection in literature; 
and in literature he cared for the content more than for 
the form. There is no record that he ever read a single 
poem with pure delight in the melodious sound of the 
lines. One of his companions at the university records 
how he "spoke ironically of verse in general."! In later 
years he expressed himself similarly: 

In the days of Pushkin and L6rmontov there used to be 
poetry, but not now. Verses have gone out of fashion. And 

♦Maude: II, C45. fBiryukov: I, 126. 


what's the good of them? You will agree that prose expresses 
our thoughts much better — it is easier to read and has more 
sense in it. Take our conversation, for instance : we say what 
we want to. But if some one tried to put it into verse, it would 
come out all upside-down. Wherever a definite, clear ex- 
pression is wanted, it either spoils the rhythm, or doesn't 
suit the style: and one has to substitute some other word, 
often far from the real meaning. — [Quoted by Maude, II, 518; 
compare p. 347, below.] 

The poets, the verse-makers torture their tongues in order 
to be able to say every possible kind of thought in every 
possible variety of word and to be able to form from all these 
words something which resembles a thought. Such exercise 
can only be indulged in by unserious people. And so it is. 
—[Journal Feb. 4, 1897; tr. Strunsky, p. 119.] 

He himself wrote no verse whatever, if we except some 
jesting lines on incidents at Sevastopol and similar 
doggerel composed for the family letter box, an epistle 
to his friend Fet, and a very few serious lines. He 
gained a new conception of Pushkin's genius from 
reading Merimee's prose version of The Gypsies* 

Of painting Tolstoy was fond, but it was not one of 
his main interests. The art that affected him most 
strongly was music, to which he was passionately de- 
voted. And of this in his later years he came to have a 
certain dread, since it aroused his emotional nature 
without teaching a clear moral lesson. f 

Thus one is not surprised to find as a boy Tolstoy 
made no experiments in literary composition. His 
* Biryukov: I, 246, 299. f Compare p. 348, below. 


art waited until he had experience on which to base his 

work. His first plana of authorship were formed in I 
when he thought of writing a story of gypsy life and also 
an imitation of Sterne's Sentimental Journey. Two 
years later, during his residence in the Caucasus, he 
set to work in earnest, and at the age of twenty-three he 
produced a masterpiece in his semi-autobiographical 
tale, Childhood. 



|N July, 1852, Tolstoy finished his story, 
Childhood, and sent it to the Contemporary, 
then the leading literary journal in Russia, 
edited by the poet Nekrasov. The work 
was at once accepted and was printed in the same 
year, signed only with the initials L. N. Nekrasov him- 
self did not know the real name of the author until 
he had approved the manuscript. He wrote to Tolstoy, 
sending him praises but no money, explaining in a 
second letter that it was not usual to pay writers for 
their first work, but that in the future he should be 
glad to receive further contributions from him, and 
would pay him fifty rubles per printed sheet of sixteen 
pages, the price received by the best authors. He 
added that the tale had been well received by the 

Childhood is an unpretentious narrative of life in a 
Russian well-to-do family. A growing boy records his 
impressions of the events and persons around him. In 
1853 and 1854 Tolstoy continued the story with Boy- 
hood, and in 1856 with Youth, after which he abandoned 



the work, which still remains a torso. The three parts 

have essentially the Bame literary qualities and already 

show the distinguishing marks of Tolstoy's genius. 
The book is genuinely original, though the form may 
have been suggested by the Family Chronicle of 
Aksakov. Perhaps David Copperficld gave an im- 
pulse to the story of child life, and possibly a sugges- 
tion for the carousal scene in Youth. The author him- 
self acknowledges the strong influence of Sterne and 
Topffer (see p. 3G), but probably exaggerates its im- 

In this book, as in others that were to follow, Tolstoy 
paid no heed to plot; the story delights us by the charm 
of single incidents and scenes. And these incidents, and 
the characters who take part in them, were with few 
exceptions drawn from the author's personal experience. 
No author was more loth to depart from the material 
of actual life than was Tolstoy, no one was more abso- 
lutely a realist in the most literal sense of the term. Thus 
the kindly German tutor Karl Mauer, the repulsive 
French tutor St.-Jerome, the French governess Mimi and 
her daughter, the trusty housekeeper Natalya Savishna, 
were all drawn from persons familiar to Tolstoy in his 
childhood. The narrator, Nikohiy Irtenyev, is naturally, 
in large measure, a reproduction of the boy Tolstoy; 
another character, Dmitry Nekhlyudov, also has auto- 
biographic traits. But the book is a spiritual, not a 
literal autobiography; events are altered and personali- 
ties transposed so that the book is not a mere narrative 


of happenings in the Tolstoy family. Just as Words- 
worth employed in his poetry "a selection of language 
really used by men," so Tolstoy built his fiction from a 
selection of the experiences of average humanity. And in 
Tolstoy as in Wordsworth "the feeling developed gives 
importance to the action and situation, and not the action 
and situation to the feeling." 

In Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth one sees already 
the two sides of Tolstoy's nature, which run parallel 
all through his life, sometimes in sharp conflict with 
each other; on the one hand his eager enjoyment of 
animal life, his delight in his own physical health and 
in the charm of the external world, and on the other 
his introspective, brooding temperament, ever seeking 
for a moral system by which he may guide his conduct. 
The first finds expression in his genius for observation, 
in his unique power of selecting just those concrete de- 
tails that will give the reader the most vivid impression 
of the scene described; the second makes itself felt 
in his analysis of mental states, his passion for 
sincerity, and his ever-present interest in moral 

The descriptions of nature in this early work already 
bear witness to that bubbling delight in outdoor life, 
to that joy in communion with the life of the universe, 
which found its fullest expression in War and Peace. 
Tolstoy does not see with the eye of a painter; he has 
small interest in what is picturesque, or, in a conventional 
sense of the word, beautiful. He rather describes the 


influence of an outdoor scene on a lad's inarticulate KOM 
of physical well-being: 

Sometimes, rather often in fact, I got up early. (I slept in 
tlie open air on the porch, and the bright, slanting rays of the 
morning sun would awaken me.) I dressed quickly, took a 
towel under my arm and a volume of a French novel, and went 
to bathe in the river in the shade of a birch wood about a half- 
mile from the house. There I lay down on the grass in the 
shade and read, occasionally tearing away my eyes from 
the book to glance at the surface of the river, which showed 
purple in the shadow and was beginning to be rippled by the 
morning breeze, at the field of yellowing rye on the opposite 
bank, at the bright-red morning light of the sun's rays, tingeing 
ever lower and lower the white trunks of the birch trees, 
which, hiding one behind the other, retreated from me into 
the depths of the dense forest; and I enjoyed the consciousness 
within myself of just such fresh young strength of life as 
breathed everywhere from the nature around me. When in 
the sky there were gray morning cloudlets and I was chilled 
after my bath, I would often leave the path and set to wander- 
ing through the fields and woods, and with a feeling of delight 
would wet my feet through my boots in the fresh dew. Mean- 
while I dreamed vividly of the heroes of the last novel that I 
had read, and imagined myself now a general, now a minister 
of state, now a man of extraordinary strength, now a pas- 
sionate man, and with a sort of trembling I looked ceaselessly 
around in the hope of suddenly meeting her somewhere in a 
glade or behind a tree. — [Youth, ch. 3-2. J 

Here, as always, Tolstoy is interested in life itself and 
not in the pictures that can be made of it. 


But men and women are the usual subjects of Tolstoy's 
description. By an unerring instinct, in picturing a 
scene Tolstoy selects its most suggestive features. The 
traits that appeal to him are apparently obvious, so 
that the personality of the writer remains unnoticed 
behind his work. One example of many is the account 
of how the half-witted religious mendicant Grisha pre- 
pares for his night's rest, watched by the boys who have 
stolen upstairs before him: 

After praying and setting his staff in the corner he looked over 
his bed and began to undress. Ungirding his old black belt, 
he slowly took off his torn nankeen frock, carefully folded it 
and hung it on the back of a chair. His face now did not ex- 
press haste and stupidity, as it usually did; on the contrary, 
he was calm, reflective, and even majestic. His motions were 
slow and thoughtful. 

When he had stripped himself to his underclothes, he slowly 
let himself down on the bed, made the sign of the cross over 
it from all sides, and, evidently with an effort (because he 
frowned), he adjusted the chains under his shirt. After sitting 
a short time and carefully looking over his underclothes, which 
were torn in some places,he rose, raised the candle with a prayer 
to the level of the shrine, in which there were a few images, 
crossed himself before them and turned the candle wick down. 
It sputtered and went out. 

Through the windows that faced the forest shone the moon, 
now almost full. The tall white figure of the mendicant was 
lit up on one side by its pale, silvery beams; on the other it 
cast a black shadow, which fell, along with the shadows from 
the window frames, upon the floor and walls and reached to 


the ceiling. In the yard the watchman was beating on his 
brass plate. 
Folding his immense arms on his breast, dropping his head, 

and uttering repealed heavy sighs, Grisha stood silently 
before the holy images, then with an effort dropped to his 
knees and began to pray. — [Childhood, ch. 12.] 

There is here little or no attempt at picturesque- 
ness; the details are such as might impress a lad crouch- 
ing in the dark. But they are so selected as to give a 
striking impression of reality. Nor do they cease with 
this; they make us understand the perfect sincerity 
and the unaffected piety of the pilgrim. One is not sur- 
prised when a moment later Tolstoy exclaims in ad- 

O great Christian Grisha! Thy faith was so strong that 
thou didst feel the nearness of God; thy love so mighty that 
the words flowed of themselves from thy lips — thou didst not 

test them by reason And what high praise didst thou 

offer to His might, when, finding no words, thou didst prostrate 
thyself on the floor in tears. 

At a later period Tolstoy would have been content to 
let his picture tell its own story, without enforcing its 
moral, or at all events would have combined his comments 
with the picture instead of making them a separate 

Observation of detail is blended with a boyish shrewd- 
ness when little Nikolenka comments on his father's 
behavior at the funeral of his wife; external acts, 


quite innocent in themselves, are made to express the 
vain and shallow character of the man: 

His tall figure in a black dress coat, his pale, expressive face, 
and his movements, graceful and self-confident as ever, when 
he crossed himself, bowed down and touched the floor with his 
hand, took a candle from the hands of the priest, or approached 
the coffin, were extraordinarily effective; but, I do not know 
why, I disliked in him just that power of seeming so effective 
at that moment. — [Childhood, ch. 27.J 

Running parallel with this emphasis on external 
reality is a constant analysis of the narrator's passing 
thoughts and feelings. This analysis avoids great emo- 
tions, such as love, hatred, and ambition, and lingers over 
minor sensations, such as crowd upon each of us at every 
moment of our lives. Hence comes the disconcerting 
realism of the impression. Tolstoy reveals to each reader 
the petty thoughts and emotions that he has himself 
experienced, but which he has thought were his peculiar 
property, unknown to all outsiders. Nikolenka is stand- 
ing by his mother's coffin, bowed by the deepest grief 
of his boy's life. Yet he tells us less of this great sorrow 
than of the different cross currents of feeling that in- 
cessantly crowd upon him: 

During the service I wept decently, crossed myself, and 
bowed down to the floor, but I did not pray with my soul, and 
I was rather indifferent; I was troubled because the little new 
dress coat that they had made me wear was very tight under 
the arms, I was careful not to soil over much the knees of 


my trousers, and 1 stealthily made observations on all who 
were present. — [Childhood, eh. '11.] 

Here we have that distrust of the grand style in dealing 
with emotion that will remain with Tolstoy all his life. 

He could not describe himself as overwhelmed by grief 
without departing from truth, a truth that every 
reader will confirm by his own experience. And to 
desert truth, to be insincere, is contrary to Tolstoy's 

Tolstoy, we may remark in passing, may have been 
affected by a paragraph in his beloved Rousseau: 

Plutarch excels by the very details into which we no longer 
dare to enter. He has an inimitable, charming art of painting 
great men in little things; and he is so happy in the choice of 
his traits that often a word, a smile, a gesture suffices him for 
the charaeterization of his hero. With a jesting word Hannibal 
reassures his frightened army and makes it march laughing to 
the battle that delivered Italy into Ins hands. Agesilaus, riding 
astride a stiek, makes me love the conqueror of the great king. 
Caesar, while passing through a poor village and chatting 
with his friends, unconsciously reveals the knave who said 
that he wished to be merely the equal of Pompey. Alexander 
swallows a medicme without saying a single word; it is the 

most beautiful moment of his life There is the true 

art of painting. One's physiognomy is not shown in his main 
features, nor one's character in great actions; one's true 
nature shows itself in trifles. Public acts are either too com- 
mon or too affected, and yet it is only on them that our modern 
dignity permits our authors to linger. — [fimile, book i\\] 


Sincerity was indeed Tolstoy's idol. A trifling in- 
cident in the tale illustrates his worship of it. On grand- 
mother's name-day each of the children is supposed to 
come to her with his congratulations and some small 
gift. Nikolenka decides that, like his tutor Karl Mauer, 
he will write a poem in honor of his grandmother. His 
doggerel ends with the lines: 

We'll never trouble — do not fear; 
We love you like our mother dear. 

[Childhood, ch. 16.] 

The last verse, despite the fact that it rimed correctly, 
distressed its small author: 

Why did I write, ''like our mother dear"? She was not here, 
and so I ought not even to have mentioned her. To be sure, 
I love grandmother and respect her, but still she is not the 
same. — Why did I write that? Why did I lie? To be sure, 
those are verses, but still I ought not to have done so. 

This passage gives a foretaste of the thinker who, as we 
have seen, later condemned all metrical composition as 
involving a sacrifice of truth, and who came to reject 
beauty as an essential element in art. 

As the tale advances and Nikolenka becomes a uni- 
versity student, his meditations on life's problems grow 
more and more important. A chapter on Dreams tells 
of his aspirations for moral purity and perfection: 

"Today I shall confess and purify myself of all my sins," I 
thought, "and I shall no longer — " (Here I called to mind 
all the sins that most tortured me.) "Every Sunday I shall 


go to church without fail, and later I shall read the Gospel for a 
whole hour; then out of the twenty-five ruble note that 1 ^liall 
receive monthly when I enter the University I shall invariably 
give two and a half (a tithe) to the poor, and in such a way 
that nobody will know of it — and not to beggars either; I 
will look up poor people, an orphan or an old woman, of whom 
no one knows." — [Youth, ch. 3.] 

These resolves are set down with a full consciousness 
that they are mawkish and calfish. Crude and im- 
mature though they be, they are sincere, not a pose 
assumed before the world in obedience to others' pre- 
cepts. Despite continual stumbling and faltering, 
Tolstoy is striving to follow a moral ideal. With a 
prophetic voice he adds: 

Let no one reproach me with the fact that the dreams of 
>uth were just as infantile as the dreams of my childhood 
and boyhood. I am convinced that if I am fated to live to 
extreme old age, and my tale overtakes my years, as an old 
man of seventy I shall indulge in the same impossible, childish 
dreams as now. . . . 

Beneficent, consoling voice, which since then so often, in 
those sad times when my soul silently submitted to the power 
of life's lies and corruption, hast boldly revolted against all 
untruth, hast bitterly reproached the past, hast pointed out 
and forced me to love the bright point of the present, and 
hast promised good and happiness in the future — beneficent, 
consoling voice! Wilt thou ever cease to be heard? 

These resolves and aspirations are unaffected by any 
definite religious beliefs. Tolstoy is interested only in 


the life here on earth. Though he is not quite an ag- 
nostic, he shows in this book no active acceptance even 
of so vague a creed as that of his belov d Rousseau, who 
prescribed faith in an all-wise and all-beneficent deity 
and in a future state of rewards and punishments. 
Perhaps for this reason, he emphasizes far less his re- 
morse for the past than his aspirations for the future. 
Except in his last years, Tolstoy was not given to brood- 
ing over past sins; the Calvinistic atmosphere of The 
Scarlet Letter is wholly alien to his spirit, as it is to 
that of the whole Russian people.* From this calm 
indifference to dogma Tolstoy never really departed; 
though he ultimately reached a faith in a temporal life 
after death he remained indifferent to speculations as 
to its nature. Of Natalya Savishna he here remarks: 
"She performed the best and greatest act of this life — 
she died without regret and fear."f Though death 
never ceased to be a controlling motive in his thought, 
Tolstoy at last found other acts better and greater than 
"a death without regret and fear." 

A somber tone runs through even this youthful work. 
The boy narrator sees clearly the frailties of his father 
and brother, of his stepmother, of his university com- 
rades, of the high society in Moscow to which he belongs. 
To this world one may apply what he wrote at about the 
same time in Sevastopol in May, 1855: 

* Stephen Graham, in The Way of Martha and the Way of Mary, 
pp. 155-160, comments excellently on this national trait, 
f Childhood, eh. 28. 


Vanity, vanity, vanity everywhere, even on the brink of 
the grave and among men ready to die in behalf of lofty con- 
victions. Vanity! This must be the characteristic trait and 
peculiar malady of our age. Why among nun of former days 
was there nothing heard of this passion, as of the smallpox or 
the eholera? Why in our age are there only three sorts of men : 
some who accept the principle of vanity as a fact inevitably 
existing and therefore just, and who freely submit to it; others 
who accept it as an unfortunate but insurmountable condition; 
and still others who with unconscious servility act under its 
influence? Why did the Homers and Shakespeares speak of 
love, glory, and sufferings, while the literature of our time is 
only an endless tale of Snobs and vanity? — [Ch. 3.] 

This emphasis on pretence and conceit, whether 
conscious or unconscious, at times gives to the book a 
cynical tone that suggests Vanity Fair. But there is a 
fundamental difference. Thackeray plays the part of 
a showman, glorifying in the cleverness with which he 
detects the frailty of the puppets whom he moves across 
his stage; Tolstoy is a part of the vain w r orld that he is 
describing, and emphasizes his own vanities quite as 
much as those of his fellows. His most incisive satire 
on petty social failings is his account of his own efforts 
to be in every way comme ilfaut. 

Yet vanity is not quite an all-pervading element in 
Tolstoy's characters. To his mother Nikolenka never 
attributes it; the little boy's love for her will not allow 
him to see any defects that she may possess. Nor does 
vanity affect the humbler people of the story, such as 
the housekeeper Natalya Savishna and the half-witted 


mendicant Grisha. These persons act from no desire 
to be seen of men; Natalya Savishna husbands the 
master's sugar and Grisha, clad in clanking chains, prays 
to God, from an inborn moral sense. In a word, the 
tone of the book is democratic; the true moral life is 
found only among men and women of low estate. 

Later in his life Tolstoy condemned this early work as 
insincere and affected. His judgment is so remarkable 
that it must be quoted entire : 

I have re-read them [Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth] and 
regret that I wrote them; so ill, artificially and insincerely are 
they penned. It could not be otherwise: first, because what 
I aimed at was not to write my own history but that of the 
friends of my youth, and this produced an awkward mixture 
of the facts of their and my own childhood; and secondly, be- 
cause at the time I wrote it I was far from being independent 
in my way of expressing myself, being strongly influenced by 
two writers: Sterne (his Sentimental Journey) and Topffer 
(his Bibliotheque de Mon Oncle). 

I am now specially dissatisfied with the two last parts, 
Boyhood and Youth, in which besides an awkward mixture of 
truth and invention, there is also insincerity; a desire to put 
forward as good and important what I did not then consider 
good and important, namely, my democratic tendency. — 
[Quoted by Maude: I, 160.] 

This harsh verdict is by no means just. An aristocrat 
by breeding, Tolstoy always wavered between caste 
prejudice and the rejection of it. The democratic sym- 
pathies of his early book are like its austere moralizing, 


not insincere, but an ideal which the author could not 
realize in his daily life and to which even his affections 
could not be constant. 

It is noteworthy that in his literary work Tolstoy 
speaks almost invariably from his best self; not as a prig, 
but as a man of fervent moral aspirations, for whom 
conduct is nine tenths of life. Only rarely does he ex- 
press the un regenerate side of his nature. In The Two 
Hussars (1850) he shows a frank preference for an ener- 
getic, vigorous rake over his cool, business-like son; to 
wrong-doing that springs from animal strength or from 
easy-going kindliness he is always charitable, while for 
calculating selfishness he has an unfailing contempt. 
His scorn of the student carousal in Youth is due to the 
fact that it was undertaken in mere obedience to fashion. 
Only in two tales, An Idyl, and Tikhon and Malanya* 
which he himself suppressed, but which have appeared in 
his posthumous works, does he show a cynical point of 
view. This high seriousness of Tolstoy's artistic work 
is at the other pole from hypocrisy. Mr. Sellar has 
admirably stated the true explanation: 

Differing infinitely, as they may do, from one another in 
powers of self-control and obedience to their higher instincts, 
the greatest poets and artists have one quality in common — 
absolute sincerity of nature. They give the world of their 
strongest and best, not because they wish to be thought other 
than they are, but because it is their strongest and best self 
which alone deeply interests them and demands expres- 
* Neither has been translated into English, so far as the writer is aware. 


sion. — [The Roman Poets of the Augustan Age: Virgil (Oxford, 
1877), p. 94.] 

While Tolstoy was serving in the Caucasus important 
events had been taking place in Europe. In November, 
1853, Russia had declared war on Turkey, and the 
Russians immediately began an invasion of the Danube 
principalities. Early in the next year Tolstoy received 
his commission as an officer in the army, went home for 
a short furlough, and joined the Russian forces in 
Bucharest in March, 1854. When they were forced to 
retreat he asked to be sent to the Crimea, where he ar- 
rived in November and was assigned to the artillery 
service. The siege of Sevastopol by the French and Eng- 
lish began in October of that year and continued until 
September, 1855. Tolstoy served throughout the siege 
in various positions. During April and May, 1855, he 
was at intervals in charge of the battery on the Fourth 
Bastion, one of the most dangerous positions in the 
fortress. From here he was transferred to Belbek, four- 
teen miles from Sevastopol, in consequence, it is said, 
of the personal instructions of the Emperor Alexander 
II, who had been so impressed by the reading of Sevas- 
topol in December, 185/+, that he gave order to take 
care of the author and remove him from the place of 
danger.* His promotion in the service was hindered 
by some doggerel verses for the composition of which 
he was partially responsible, and probably also by the 
*Biryuk6v: I, 259. 


displeasure of his superiors at his meticulous honesty 
in regard to the government money.* At the con- 
clusion of the siege he was sent to St. Petersburg as a 
courier and never returned to the army, from which 
he formally retired in November, 185G. 

The literary result of Tolstoy's experience of the 
great siege was three sketches published under the 
title, Sevastopol in December, 1854, and in May and 
August, 1855. The first of these, composed soon after 
his arrival in the beleaguered fortress, is marked by a 
patriotic enthusiasm strongly at variance with his later 
convictions, but which may be seen to be genuine, not 
a literary pose, from its agreement with the author's 
private letters written at this same time. "The spirit 
of our armies is above all description," he wrote to his 
brother on December 2, 1854. "In the days of ancient 
Greece there was never such heroism." Yet even in the 
first sketch Tolstoy is impressed by the quiet, un- 
assuming courage with which the Russian army endures 
hardships, not by its aggressive bravery. In the next 
sketch the atmosphere has changed. Petty vanity 
Tolstoy now finds to be the master passion of the 
Russian officers in the field, as of their brothers at 
home : 

Kalugin and the Colonel would have been ready every day 

to see just such an affair in order each time to receive a gold 

saber and the rank of major-general, notwithstanding the fact 

that they were fine fellows. I like to hear people give the 

* His attitude is reflected in Sevastopol in August, 1855, ch. IS. 


name of monster to some conqueror or other, who destroys 
millions for the sake of his own ambition. But demand a 
frank confession from Ensign Petrushov, Sub-Lieutenant 
Antonov and their comrades: every one of us is a little Na- 
poleon, a little monster, and is ready to start a battle at once, 
to slay a hundred men, merely in order to receive an extra 
decoration or a third more salary. — [Sevastopol in May, 1855, 
ch. 15.] 

In the third sketch the patriotic tone in a measure 
returns. Speaking generally, one has to exercise some 
care in the interpretation of these works from this 
point of view. The censor seriously mangled the sec- 
ond of them, perhaps the others also, before publica- 
tion; and Tolstoy himself later confessed "that, con- 
tending with his desire to tell the truth about things 
as he saw it, he was at the same time aware of another 
feeling prompting him to say what was expected of him."* 

Though the literary characteristics of Sevastopol 
are, when analyzed, the same as those of Childhood, the 
book made a far stronger impression because of the tre- 
mendous appeal of its subject. Tolstoy saw war as 
suffering and death, unrelieved by any touch of bril- 
liancy or grandeur, and he selected just the right detail 
to convey his impression: 

Now, if your nerves are strong, enter the door at the left; 

in that room they bandage wounds and perform operations. 

You will see there doctors with arms covered with blood up 

to their elbows and with pale, gloomy faces, busy around a 

* Maude: 1,134. 


bed on which, with eyes open and speaking, us if in delirium, 
disconnected but often simple and touching words, lies a 
wounded man under the influence of chloroform. The doctors 
are occupied with the horrible but beneficent act of amputa- 
tion. You will see how the sharp, curved knife enters the white, 
healthy body; you will sec how with an awful, piercing cry 
and with curses the wounded man suddenly comes to his 
senses; you will see how the surgeon tosses into the corner the 
severed arm ; you will see how on a stretcher in the same room 
there lies another wounded man, who, gazing at the operation 
performed on his companion, writhes and groans, not so 
much from physical pain as from the moral torments of ex- 
pectation. You will see awful sights that rend your soul; you 
will see war, not in regular, beautiful, and brilliant ranks, 
with music and the beating of drums, with waving banners 
and generals on prancing steeds — you will see war in its true 
expression, in blood, in sufferings, in death. — [Sevastopol in 
December, 185 Jt, ch. 1.] 

Tolstoy agrees with General Sherman that "war is 
hell." Yet he does not revel in descriptions of carnage 
and cruelty; his atmosphere is not that of the romantic 
Sienkiewicz. The force of the book depends on its 
reserve, on the sense of restraint and self-mastery that 
makes every word ring true. 

In Sevastopol the psychological analysis characteristic 
of Tolstoy's first published work passes to a somewhat 
broader field. No longer checked by an autobiographic 
form, Tolstoy tells of the thoughts and feelings of 
different officers who fight and die for their country. 
One remarks the same trait as before, the absence of 


great, controlling passions, such as patriotic enthusiasm 
and self-sacrifice. Ambition there is, but of a petty 
sort. Tolstoy does not shrink from portraying the 
sensations of an officer during his last moments; the 
man is petty even in death: 

Praskukhin, closing his eyes tight, heard how the bomb 
plumped down on the hard ground somewhere very near him. 
A second passed, which seemed an hour — the bomb had not 
burst. Praskukhin was afraid lest he might have played the 
coward for nothing; perhaps the bomb had fallen far away, 
and it only seemed to him that the fuse was hissing just be- 
side him. He opened his eyes and noticed with pleasure that 
Mikhaylov was lying motionless on the earth right near his 
feet. But here his eyes encountered for a moment the glowing 
fuse of the bomb, which was spinning around less than a yard 
away from him. 

Horror, cold horror, which excluded all other thoughts and 
feelings, seized his whole being. He covered his face with his 

A second more passed, a second in which a whole world of 
feelings, thoughts, hopes, and memories flashed through his 

"Whom will it kill, me or Mikhaylov? or both of us to- 
gether? And if me, then where? If it's in the head, then 
I'm done for; but if it's in the leg, then they'll cut it off and 
I'll ask 'em to be sure to use chloroform — and I may still sur- 
vive. But perhaps it will kill only Mikhaylov — then I will 
tell how we were walking together, how he was killed and I was 
spattered with his blood. No, it's nearer to me; it will be I." 

Then he remembered the twelve rubles that he owed 
Mikhaylov, and he remembered still another debt in St. 


burg, which he ought to have paid long ago; the gypsy 
air that he had sung the evening before came into his head. 

The woman whom he loved appeared before his imagination, 
wearing a cap with purple ribbons; he remembered a man 

who had insulted him five years before and whom lie had not 
paid back for the insult, although at the same time, inseparable 
from this and from thousands of other recollections, the feeling 
of the present, the expectation of death, did not for a moment 
abandon him. — [Sevastopol in May, 1855, ch. 12.] 

Military heroism plays small part in these pages. 
Officers show their indifference to danger by walking 
upright along the shallow trenches; but, when they 
feel themselves free from observation, they are glad to 
crawl on all fours. Even deeds of valor are performed 
half unconsciously, by a blind following of the crowd in 
a night sally. 

From the ever-present vanity of the officers the 
common soldiers are exempt. In war as in peace these 
men of humbler station do their work willingly and 
unassumingly. Submitting to destiny, without thought 
of their personal life, by their very submission they 
are the only true heroes : 

"Really, there seem to be altogether too many men return- 
ing," said Galtsin, stopping again the same tall soldier with the 
two muskets. " What are you coming this way for? Hey, you, 

The soldier halted and took off his hat with his left hand. 

"Where are you going and why?" Galtsin shouted at 
liim sternly. "You scoun — " 


But meanwhile he had come up close to the soldier and had 
noticed that no hand could be seen behind his right cuff and 
that the sleeve was soaked with blood to a point above the 

"Wounded, your honor!" 


"Here, most likely with a bullet," said the soldier, pointing 
to his arm. "But I can't tell what struck my head." And, 
bending forward his head, he showed the hair matted to- 
gether with blood on the back of his neck. 

"And whose is the second gun?" 

"A French musket, your honor! I captured it. But I 
shouldn't have left, if it weren't to help this little fellow; other- 
wise he'd fall," he added, pointing to a soldier walking a little 
in front of him, who was leaning on his gun and painfully 
dragging along his left leg. 

Prince Galtsin suddenly felt frightfully ashamed of his 
unjust suspicions. He felt himself blushing, and, without ask- 
ing further questions of the wounded or watching them, he 
walked to the field hospital. — [Sevastopol in May, 1855, ch. 7.] 

In the third part of his work, Sevastopol in August, 
1855, however, Tolstoy definitely changes his tone, no 
longer emphasizing the vanity of the officers, but showing 
us in the brothers Kozeltsov two men who are animated by 
self-sacrificing gallantry and devotion to their country. 

In Sevastopol, just as in his previous work, Childhood, 
sincerity is the keynote of Tolstoy's writing, and truth 
is his divinity: 

There, this time I have said what I wished to say. But a 
painful hesitation overcomes me. Perhaps I ought not to have 


said this; perhaps what I have said is one of those evil truths, 
which, unconsciously concealed in the soul of each man, ought 
not to be expressed, in order not to become harmful, like the 
dregs of wine, which must not be shaken, in order not to spoil it. 

Where is the expression of evil, which must be avoided? 
Where in this tale is the expression of good, which must be 
imitated? Who is its villain and who its hero? All are good and 
all are bad. 

Neither Kalugin with his brilliant bravery — bravoure de 
gentilhomine — and the vanity that animates his every act, nor 
Praskukhin,an empty, harmless fellow,though he fell in combat 
for faith, throne, and fatherland, nor Mikhaylov with his 
shyness, nor Pest, a child without firm convictions and rules 
of action, can be either the villain or the hero of the tale. 

The hero of my tale, whom I love with all the strength of 
my soul, whom I have tried to reproduce in all his beauty, and 
who always has been, is, and will be beautiful — is the truth. — 
[Sevastopol in May, 1855, eh. 16.] 

No hatred of French or English is seen in these sketches 
even among the officers, still less among the private 
soldiers, who fraternize in the most friendly fashion with 
their French opponents, whose language they do not 

Sevastopol treats of a great war, involving important 
issues of European politics, and of movements of large 
armies, involving carefully planned mass action. In all 
this Tolstoy shows no interest whatever. He is occupied 
with the individual officer and soldier, with his life as 
determined by the crushing, revolting circumstances 
in which he is placed; into the cause of those circum- 


stances he does not inquire. For Tolstoy in a certain 
sense each man liveth unto himself and dieth unto him- 
self; the private moral life is man's sole concern. He 
exclaims in sadness: 

Yes, on the bastion and in the trench white flags are raised, 
the flowery valley is filled with dead bodies, the fair sun 
descends towards the blue sea, and the blue sea, rippling, 
glitters in the golden beams of the sun. Thousands of men 
crowd about, gaze, talk, and smile to one another. And will 
not these men, Christians who profess the one great law of love 
and self-sacrifice, when they gaze on what they have done, fall 
suddenly on their knees in repentance before Him who, when 
He gave them life, implanted in the soul of each man, along 
with the fear of death, the love for the good and the beautiful; 
and will they not embrace like brothers? The white flags are 
lowered, again the engines of death and suffering whistle, 
again innocent blood is shed and groans and curses are heard. — 
[Sevastopol in May, 1855, ch. 16.] 

This passage testifies to the fundamentally religious 
nature of the gay young officer who was "the soul of 
his battery,"* and who at times could sink to coarse 
dissipation. An entry in Tolstoy's diary in March, 
1855, speaks even more clearly of his inner life: 

A conversation about divinity and faith has led to a great, 
stupendous thought, to the realization of which I feel myself 
capable of consecrating my life. This thought is the founda- 
tion of a new religion, corresponding to the development of 
* Quoted by Biryukov: I, 256. 


humanity, the religion of Christ purified of faith and mystery, 
a practical religion, not promising future blessedness, but 
giving blessedness on earth. This thought can be realized, I 
understand, only by generations consciously working towards 
that aim. One generation will bequeath this thought to the 
following, and at some time fanaticism or reason will realize 
it. To act consciously towards the uniting of men by religion, 
that is the foundation of the thought which, I hope, will draw 
me on. — [Biryuk6v: I, 250.1 

No man had previously written of war in such style 
as Tolstoy. To be sure, Tolstoy himself, with his fre- 
quent exaggeration when speaking of his debt to others, 
has said that he learned from Stendhal's Chartreuse de 
Par me all that he knew of war.* The picture of the 
perplexed Fabrice, full of Napoleonic enthusiasm, riding 
over the battlefield of Waterloo and totally failing 
to understand what is happening all about him, is 
indeed somewhat in the vein of Tolstoy, but is far more 
pale and vague. Despite what he may have learned 
from such a predecessor, Tolstoy is in Sevastopol even 
more independent than in Childhood. Other writers, 
from Homer to Scott, had taken the point of view of 
the slayer, or perhaps that of the slain man's wife and 
comrades; Tolstoy dwells on the feelings of the man 
who is being killed, whether swiftly on the field of 
battle, or by a lingering death in the hospital, or by 
still slower tortures in a besieged town, awaiting his 
turn in the trenches. This book alone would suffice 
♦Quoted by Biryukov: I, 270. 


to establish its author's fame. Its effect on Russian 
public opinion has been considerable. War has come 
to be regarded in Russia, perhaps more than elsewhere, 
as blood, suffering, and death, rather than as a glorious 
field of heroic combat. Russians no longer write of 
war in the tone of their romantic poets, Pushkin and 
Lermontov. Men of talent, such as Garshin and 
Andreyev, have followed in the footsteps of Tolstoy, but 
without equaling his quiet mastery of reserve force. 
Andreyev in The Red Laugh, though he uses a hundred- 
fold more lurid tints than Tolstoy, succeeds in making 
war grotesque rather than terrible. 

Nor has Tolstoy's influence been confined to his 
own country. When we read his book today, fresh 
from the stories of the European war as related by the 
newspaper correspondents and the wounded com- 
batants, it seems far less unique than it did at the time 
of its first appearance. A change has indeed come over 
the whole style of the descriptions of war, and among 
those responsible for that change no single man was of 
more influence than Leo Tolstoy. 

Meanwhile Tolstoy's life in the Caucasus had ap- 
parently passed without direct reflection in his work, ex- 
cept for some short sketches such as The Incursion 
(1852). In reality he had as early as 1852 begun a 
story based on his life there,* and in particular on his 
passing infatuation for a Cossack girl. This he took up 

* See note by Chertk6v in The Diaries of Leo Tolstoy: Youth, 18&7-52 
(New York, 1917), p. 115. 


once more in I860,* and in 1802, in order to satisfy 
a gambling debt to the editor Katkov, he gave him the 
book, still unfinished. Owing to the unpleasant memories 
connected with the novel, which was published under 
the title The Cossacks, he never brought it to comple- 

The Cossacks is Tolstoy's first attempt at a novel with 
a regular plot. Olenin, a young Russian tired of civilized 
life in Moscow, enters military service with the troops 
stationed on the Caucasus frontier, among the Grebensky 
Cossacks. He lodges at the house of an old ensign, 
whose daughter Maryana straightway attracts his at- 
tention. Introspective and self-conscious, Olenin cannot 
flirt and frolic with the peasant girls as does his thought- 
less comrade Beletsky. He meditates becoming a 
Cossack, marrying Maryana, and abandoning all con- 
nection with his old life. Maryana, though attached to 
the bold young Cossack Lukashka, seems for a time 
to encourage his attentions. Then Lukashka is killed 
in a combat with some Circassian raiders. When Olenin 
attempts to approach Maryana with words of tenderness, 
she drives him from her in a burst of fury and contempt. 
Defeated and dejected, Olenin returns home. 

No book could be more utterly unheroic and un- 
romantic. Yet Tolstoy had been living amid the most 
splendid mountain scenery, and amid the same wild, 
half-savage life that had inspired Pushkin and Ler- 
montov to their most typically romantic poems. Push- 
*Biryuk6v: 1,354. 


kin, in fact, had in his Prisoner of the Caucasus written 
a work that is the exact converse of Tolstoy's. A 
gloomy, disenchanted young Russian officer is captured 
by the Circassians. A fair Circassian maiden solaces 
his imprisonment and proffers him her love, but he 
replies that the springs of tender feeling are quenched 
within him. Thereupon the maiden brings a file, sets 
the somber hero free, and, once he is safe across the 
boundary stream, drowns herself in its depths. 

The contrast between these two works is impressive. 
Pushkin sketches for us two vague, shadowy beings, 
who owe their existence largely to the poems of Byron; 
Tolstoy draws a man and woman who are perfectly real 
and concrete. His Olenin, though no coward, is far 
from brilliant and dashing; once when he is surprised 
at nighttime listening by Maryana's window he becomes 
actually ludicrous: in a word, he is Tolstoy himself, 
with all his doubts and perplexities, stumblings and 
failures. Maryana, though chaste and pure, is far 
from ethereal; she is a good hand at shoveling dung, 
and is not averse to being kissed by her lover or, on 
occasion, by others as well. In contrast to Pushkin's 
eloquent and poetic heroine, she is monosyllabic of 
speech; when embarrassed, she is given to hiding her 
face behind her broad sleeve. 

In drawing his background, Tolstoy seems abso- 
lutely to avoid the descriptions of magnificent land- 
scape in which Pushkin revels, even when they are 
almost forced upon him by his subject. At the opening 


of the story, without mentioning a single detail of the 
mountain scenery, he tells of the overwhelming impres- 
sion that the first view of it made on the soul of his hero: 

It was an absolutely clear morning. Suddenly he saw, about 
twenty paces from him, as it seemed to him at the first moment, 
the pure white masses with their delicate contours, and the 
fantastic, distinct, airy line of their summits and of the dis- 
tant sky. And when he came to understand the great distance 
between him and the mountains and the sky, the whole im- 
mensity of the mountains; and when he began to feel all the 
infinity of this beauty, he became alarmed lest it might be a 
phantom, a dream. He shook himself, in order to wake up. 
The mountains were still the same. 

"What is that? What is it?" he asked of the driver. 

"The mountains," the Nogay answered with indifference. . . . 

Owing to the quick movement of the troika along the even 
road, the mountains seemed to be running along the horizon, 
their rosy peaks glittering in the rising sun. At first the 
mountains only surprised Olenin, then they made him joyful; 
but later, by gazing more and more at this chain of snowy 
mountains which rose and fled away, not from other, black 
mountains, but directly from the plain, he gradually began to 
penetrate into this beauty and to feel the mountains. From 
that moment, all that he saw, all that he thought, all that he 
felt, assumed for him the novel, sternly majestic character 
of the mountains. — [Ch. 3.] 

But, like other high emotion, the influence of the 
mountains seems to have been transitory. After this 
chapter they and their grandeur disappear from view. 
The Terek is not the fierce, angry stream of Lermontov's 


ballad, swollen by the melting snows of spring, but a 
watercourse dwindling beneath the summer heat, 
which horsemen can ford. Olenin goes hunting in the 
woods and is persecuted by the mosquitoes. Life in the 
Caucasus is like life elsewhere, full of petty discomforts, 
but made dignified by moral striving. And Olenin amid 
clouds of mosquitoes becomes absorbed in meditations 
on moral problems. 

The greatest artistic merit in the story is found in 
the picture of the Cossack community. These men are 
drunken, deceitful, lustful, cruel, but withal natural, 
unconscious, self-respecting human animals. Uncle 
Eroshka is a part of the woods through which he guides 
Olenin. Lukashka is free as a wolf from thought, and 
from romantic exaggeration of his own skill, when he 
shoots the Circassian who is stealthily swimming the 
stream. With such a community the self-conscious 
Olenin cannot blend. Tolstoy contrasts him with it so that 
he seems neither inferior nor superior, but just different. 
Our sympathies go out both to him and to Maryana. 

As for Maryana, she is the first young girl whom 
Tolstoy introduces into his writings. He wisely does 
not attempt to analyze her thoughts and feelings, but 
lets us infer them from her outward life. The following 
passage shows her at her best; its absolute simplicity 
and directness place it at the height of Tolstoy's art: 

Maryana, after eating her dinner, gave some grass to the 
bulls, rolled up her half -coat under her head, and lay down 


beneath the cart on the succulent, crushed grass. She wore 
only a red silk kerchief on her head, and a faded blue chintz 
shirt, but she felt unbearably hot. Her face glowed, her legs 
moved restlessly, her eyes were covered with the moisture of 
sleep and weariness; her lips opened involuntarily and her 
breast heaved high and heavily. 

The working season had begun two weeks before, and hard, 
uninterrupted work filled the whole life of the young girl. 
In the early morning twilight she jumped up, washed her 
face with cold water, fastened on her kerchief, and ran bare- 
foot to the cattle. She hastily put on her shoes and her half- 
coat, and, tying some bread in a bundle, harnessed the bulls, 
and rode off to the vineyards for the whole day. There she 
rested only for an hour; she cut the grapes and carried the 
baskets, and in the evening, merry and not tired, leading 
the bulls by a cord and urging them on with a long switch, she 
returned to the village. After housing the cattle in the twi- 
light, catching up some sunflower seeds in the wide sleeve of 
her shirt, she went out to the corner to have a laugh with the 
girls. But as soon as the light faded she was on her way to the 
house; and, after eating her supper in the dark shed with her 
father, mother, and little brother, she went into the house, 
carefree and healthy, took her seat on the oven, and, half- 
dozing, listened to the talk of the lodger. As soon as he left, 
she threw herself on her bed and slept till morning a sound, 
calm sleep. The next day it was the same. — [Ch. 29.] 


LIFE AND WORK, 1855-62 

jHE years immediately following the Crimean 
war were a time of political discussion in 
Russia such as had never before been known. 
The icy oppression of Nicholas I had passed 
away and new forces were beginning to be felt in the 
nation. Defeat in war had shown the weakness of the 
country and the need of internal reforms. The greatest 
of these reforms was to be the emancipation of the 
peasantry, the great body of the Russian people, who 
up to this time had been serfs, the property of the 
landed nobility, bought and sold like cattle. Once the 
yoke of serfdom was cast aside, it was felt that Russia 
would breathe new life. Four schools of political thought 
had made their appearance, which may fairly be termed 
political parties, though we must not attach to the 
term any such definite associations as in England and 

The first school, the Official Nationalists, were the up- 
holders of the existing order. In their eyes Russia was a 
peculiar nation: its autocracy represented a state order 

infinitely superior to the constitutional governments of 


LIFE AND WORK, 1855-62 

the west, with their continual parliamentary disputes; 
its orthodoxy, embodied in the state church, preserved 
the true principle of primitive Christian love, in oppo- 
sition both to the stiff hierarchy of Catholicism, which 
erected the church into a rival state, and to the jangling, 
rationalistic sects of Protestantism; and its nationality, 
the simple, patriarchal organization of the people, was 
an ideal social order. To the Nationalists were opposed 
the second school, the Liberals, whose watchwords were 
progress and freedom of thought, and whose ideal 
of state organization was contemporary England or the 
United States, with their respect for individual liberty 
and their guarantees of freedom of speech, of the press, 
of conscience. To organized religion they were opposed, 
and personally most of them were sceptics and free 
thinkers. Their membership was mainly recruited 
from the minor nobility of Russia. The third group, 
the Socialists, who at this time were still a very small 
party, accepted the political program of the Liberals, 
but found it inadequate; to political freedom they would 
add economic equality. Finally, the fourth school, the 
Slavophiles, who were rather a philosophic sect than a 
political party, agreed with the Official Nationalists in 
regarding the Russians as an elect and a peculiar people, 
and accepted the Nationalist trinity of autocracy y 
orthodoxy, and nationality, though their interpretation of 
these principles was often radically opposed to that of 
the Nationalists; they joined with the Liberals in their 
admiration of freedom of thought; they were not neces- 


sarily opposed even to the Socialists. Their distinguishing 
idea was that Russia could progress only by developing its 
native institutions, not by imitating western Europe. 
Slavic culture must evolve independently of Germanic 
or Latin traditions; Russia should take the lead in a 
new epoch of human history. After 1870 they came to 
maintain that Russia should place itself at the head of 
a federation of Slavic nations, of which the capital was 
to be Constantinople. In opposition to the Liberals, 
they were animated by religious enthusiasm. Against 
the Nationalists, the other three parties were united 
in support of the emancipation movement. 

Tolstoy, an individualist to the marrow of his bones, 
never belonged to any party; but, as time advanced, he 
developed a stronger dislike for the Liberals, with some 
of whose leaders he had formerly been temporarily as- 
sociated, than for any other group. Their emphasis on 
progress and on public activity proved alien to his spirit. 
With the Nationalists he was associated by family tradi- 
tions and by sentimental loyalty to the tsar. Some of his 
own ideas, as that of the inborn excellence of the Russian 
common people, coincided with those of the Slavophiles. 
With the Socialists, who were parvenus and sceptics 
even more than the Liberals, he had no connections. 
Yet in his later years, after his religious conversion, he 
developed points of contact with them at least on the nega- 
tive side, in his destructive criticism of existing society. 

When Tolstoy arrived in St. Petersburg in November, 
1855, he naturally became associated with the circle of 

LIFE AND WORK, 1855-02 57 

authors writing for the Contemporary, in which his 
own works had been published. This journal, founded 
in 1836 by Pushkin, had since 1847 been under the direc- 
tion of Panayev and the poet Nekrasov, who hud made it 
the chief literary force in Russia, and, above all, the main 
organ of Russian liberal thought. xVmong its contributors 
were Turgenev, Goncharov, and Grigorovich, the lead- 
ing novelists of their time, and the dramatist Ostrovsky. 
Literature in Russia at this period occupied a far 
different position from that which it now holds in 
America or England. It appealed to a very small por- 
tion of the nation, for the peasantry was almost entirely 
illiterate, and the trading classes were impervious to 
intellectual influences. On the other hand, such a 
journal as the Contemporary had much more powerful 
influence upon its readers than any one American or 
English periodical to which it can be compared. Direct 
discussion of public questions was practically impossible 
under the rigid censorship of the press that prevailed 
in Russia. Public opinion was molded by social dis- 
cussion, and, in an indirect fashion, by the influence 
of poetry, fiction, and criticism. Even the most arbi- 
trary censor could hardly prohibit an article on Eugene 
Onegin simply because it touched on the social import of 
the characters drawn by Pushkin. And no writer of 
stories could describe truthfully any phase of Russian 
life without at least seeming to pass judgment on it, 
whether favorable or unfavorable. Once his story 
was in print it was read hardly less for instruction than 


for amusement; the "tendencies" of the tale were 
discussed, and they affected the popular verdict quite 
as much as did its esthetic merits. Oftentimes ten- 
dencies were discovered of which the authors had been 
profoundly unconscious, or which were even quite con- 
trary to their own fixed opinions. Thus Gogol (1809-52), 
the great founder of Russian realism, by his satiric 
portrayal of corrupt Russian officials in The Inspector- 
General, and of stupid landed gentry in Dead Souls, had 
made himself the idol of the Russian Liberals. Later, 
when Gogol made a direct confession of his faith, he 
proved to be a defender of the autocracy, the Orthodox 
Church, and even serfdom itself, which he praised as a 
divinely ordained institution. His popularity at once 
vanished. Yet he had not been insincere in his earlier 
writings; his critics had read into them meanings that 
the author had never intended. 

One may form some conception of the situation if he 
imagines all free discussion of the problem of capital and 
labor checked in America, and the public dependent for 
enlightenment on the works of such novelists as Mr. Her- 
rick and Mr. Churchill, and even ready to interpret Mark 
Twain and O. Henry from a sociological point of view. 

Naturally enough, Russian authors were apt to take 
themselves very seriously and to pose as teachers of 
profound truths in politics as well as in personal morals 
and in art. The Contemporary group were united by 
common liberal principles, though not by a definite 
political platform; in particular they had an ardent 

LIFE AND WORK, 18;;5-G2 :>0 

interest in the emancipation movement, in the spread of 
education in Russia, and in the greater participation 
of the Russian people in the government of their country. 
Though they were of various ranks in society, from the 
wealthy aristocrat Turgenev to the plebeian Chernyshev- 
sky, they were united in opposition to the conservatism 
of the landed gentry whose prosperity depended on the 
maintenance of serfdom. 

With this group Tolstoy could never be in perfect 
harmony. He was of higher social station than any of 
them, and probably looked down upon them as middle- 
class scribblers. A lady who was intimate with the 
whole Contemporary circle writes of him at this time: 
" Count Tolstoy was not a timid person, and was aware 
of the strength of his own talent; and for that reason, 
as it then seemed to me, he assumed an affectedly free 
and easy manner."* To say nothing of an inborn spirit 
of contradiction, which made long cooperation with any 
body of men difficult for him, Tolstoy, unlike his asso- 
ciates, was little interested in politics. His problems 
were of the individual life; vague aspirations for the 
good of humanity, which might accompany a corrupt 
and dissolute private life, he regarded w r ith contempt. 
His account of this period of his life in his Confession 
may then be readily understood: 

Our mission was to teach men I was an artist and a 

poet [that is, a creative writer], and I wrote and taught, without 
knowing what I taught. 

* Biryukov: I, 278. 


This faith in the significance of poetry and in the develop- 
ment of life was a religion, and I was one of the priests of it. 
To be a priest of it was very pleasant and profitable. And I 
lived for rather a long time in this religion, not doubting its 
truth. But in the second and in particular in the third year of 
such a life I began to doubt the infallibility of this religion and 
to inquire into it. My first occasion for doubt was that I 
began to observe that the priests of this religion were not all in 
agreement among themselves. Some said, "We are the best 
and most useful teachers; we teach what is necessary and the 
others teach incorrectly." But others said, "No, We are the 
genuine men, and you teach incorrectly." And they disputed, 
quarreled, wrangled, deceived and cheated one another. 
Besides this there were many men among us who did not 
even care who was right and who was wrong, but who simply 
pursued their own selfish aims with the aid of this activity of 
ours. All this made me doubt the truth of our religion. 

Besides this, when I came to doubt the truth of our writers' 
religion, I began more attentively to observe the priests of it, 
and I became convinced that almost all the priests of this faith, 
the writers, were immoral men, and, for the most part, a poor 
sort of men, insignificant in character, and much inferior to 
the men whom I had met in my previous dissipated life, and in 
my military career, but that they were self-confident and self- 
satisfied as only men can be who are either absolute saints or 
who do not know what sanctity is. These men became repug- 
nant to me, and I became repugnant to myself, and I came 
to understand that this religion was a deception. — [Ch. %\ 

Tolstoy, ever prone to suspect insincerity in others, 
was unjust to men who united high aspirations with im- 
perfect performance in a way that was really not wholly 

LIFE AND WORK, 1855-62 Gl 

unlike his own. But quiet, weak-willed literary men 
and professors were never attractive to his passionate 
temperament. After 1858 he made no contributions to 
the Contemporary. His literary work during 1856, when 
he was most thoroughly affiliated with this circle, had 
been scanty; it consisted only of Youth, Tico Hussars, 
and two short tales, The Snowstorm and A Morning of 
a Landed Proprietor. His growing discontent with 
his associates is reflected in an entry in his diary in 1857: 
"My stumbling-block is the vanity of liberalism."* 
He never again became affiliated with a literary group. 
Shortly after his return from Sevastopol occurred 
the first serious love affair in Tolstoy's life. As a child 
he had had a passion for one S6nichka Kaloshin, which 
is presumably reflected in an episode in Childhood. 
Later came his passing infatuation with a Cossack girl, 
to say nothing of boyish dreams of two young women 
who scarcely knew of his affection for them.f Now, on 
his return from the army, where he had been entirely 
deprived of women's society, he looked forward eagerly 
to family life, of which he was passionately fond. His 
attention was attracted to the pretty daughter of a 
neighboring landowner, a girl apparently much younger 
than himself, who readily accepted his attentions. Bir- 
yukov, who is the sole source of information as to this 
episode, conceals her identity under the initials V. A. 
Tolstoy's feeling for her can never have been strong or 

♦Biryukov: 1,328. 

| Cf. Diaries: Youth, 181*7-52, pp. 106-11. 


unselfish. Soon after the beginning of their acquaintance 
V. A. went to Moscow to attend the festivities connected 
with the coronation of Alexander II, September 7, 1856. 
She frankly enjoyed the gayety and was not displeased 
by the admiration of various young men. Tolstoy 
thereupon wrote her a series of instructive letters, setting 
forth the duties and responsibilities that awaited her as 
his wife. Though not even correspondence of this sort 
could quench the girl's affection, Tolstoy found that he 
was himself growing constantly cooler towards her. In 
February, 1857, he left Russia for the west, and from 
Paris he sent to his former sweetheart a letter in which 
he spoke of their intimacy as a thing of the past. His 
conduct towards her had not been above reproach; in 
a letter to his aunt he wrote: "As for V., I never loved 
her truly, but I let myself be drawn into the wicked 
pleasure of inspiring love, which afforded me such joy 
as I had never before experienced."* When Tolstoy in 
Anna Karenin (part I, ch. 16) wrote of Vronsky's con- 
duct towards Kitty, he was doubtless thinking of his own 
youthful experience. Marriage, as we know from one 
of his later aphorisms,f he regarded as an engagement 
into which a man should not enter lightly, but only 
when led to it by an irresistible force. 

From this experience Tolstoy drew the suggestion for 
his charming story Family Happiness (published in 
April, 1859), which represents his life with V. A. not as it 

*Biryuk6v: 1,310. 

f Thoughts on God: Wiener's translation; xvi, 419. 

LIFE AM) WORK, 1855-62 

was but as it might have been. Here for the fir>t time 
he gives au analytic treatment of a woman's character. 

A girl of seventeen tells of her courtship by a man of 

thirty-four and of their marriage; she relates how they 
drifted apart owing to her passion for society frivolity 
and her husband's absorption in his work and his own 
thoughts, and how they later came to understand 
each other — and lived happily ever afterwards. The 
tale has wonderful freshness and poetic charm. The 
portrait of the man is delightful, with his clumsy kind- 
liness, his sincere friendship for the girl whom he has 
watched develop from childhood, and his joy when he 
perceives that after all she may sometime be able to 
love him otherwise than as an affectionate old friend. 
The girl, with her genuine sweetness and faithfulness, 
combined with an eagerness for admiration that arouses 
her husband's jealousy, is even more appealing. This 
is a true love story, that of a courtship that does not 
cease with marriage. 

During this period of his life Tolstoy was restless, not 
settling permanently in one place. His first trip abroad 
was made apparently partly for mere amusement, partly 
as an escape from his unfortunate love affair. He 
reached Paris in February, 1857, and spent some time 
with Turgenev. On April 6 he made a striking entry 
in his diary: 

Got up about seven and went to see an execution. The 
stout, white, healthy neck and breast; kissed the Gospel and 
then — death. What a senseless thing! A strong impression, 


which did not pass in vain. I am not a political man. Morals 

and art I know, love, and can The guillotine for a 

long time would not let me sleep and made me keep looking 
around me. — [Biryukov: I, 317.] 

Here he vividly characterizes his own talent and gives 
a hint of his nascent repugnance to acts of violence 
committed in the name of the state. In his Confession 
he refers to this incident as one of the main causes that 
made him cease to share the Liberals' worship of prog- 

From Paris Tolstoy proceeded to Switzerland, where 
he met his father's cousin, the Countess Alexandra 
Tolstoy, maid of honor at the Russian court, and 
passed the time gaily with her and with congenial 
Russian associates. With the Countess he formed a 
friendship which, despite their sharp differences on 
matters of religion, endured until her death in 1904. 
Their correspondence is a precious source for the knowl- 
edge of Tolstoy's personality. In a short memoir the 
Countess gives her impressions of the young author 
after his return from Sevastopol: 

He was unaffected, extremely modest, and so full of fun 
that his presence enlivened everybody. Of himself he spoke 
very rarely, but he gazed at each new face with marked at- 
tention and later he most amusingly told us his impressions, 
which were nearly always rather extreme. . . . He divined 
people by his artistic sense, and his estimate often proved 
amazingly accurate. His homely face, with its kind, clever, 
expressive eyes, made up by its expression for its lack of 

LIFE AND WORK, 1855-62 65 

elegance; one may say that it was better than beauty. . . . 
Hi- waa constantly striving to begin ins life anew; and, throw- 
ing off the past like worn-out clothing, to dress himself in a 
clean garment. — [Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tol- 
stoy, pp. 3, 4, 6.] 

From an artistic point of view this journey is of some 
importance. Tolstoy was outraged by the indifference 
of the wealthy guests at the Schweizerhof hotel in 
Lucerne to a poor musician who had diverted them for a 
half-hour and then vainly asked pay for his trouble. 
To shame the crowd, he immediately captured the 
musician, seated him at table with himself, and ordered 
champagne. (As Kropotkin intimates,* this stroke 
caused more pleasure to Tolstoy than to the musician.) 
This incident he immediately described in his tale 
Lucerne. Kropotkin comments on the honesty with 
which he depicts the discomfort of the musician in the 
aristocratic surroundings into which the author has 
dragged him. The sketch closes with bitter reflections 
on the way in which external civilization dulls ele- 
mental human feeling and fosters hypocrisy. 

At about the same time he composed Albert , founded 
on his own attempt, nine years before, in 1848, to be- 
friend a drunken German musician, whom he had 
taken with him from St. Petersburg to his home at 
Yasnaya Poh T ana. But the story is by no means strictly 
autobiographic, and is more conventional in form than 
most of his writings. 

* Russian Literature, pp. 116. 117. 


In August, 1857, Tolstoy was back in Russia. The 
following three years, until July, 1860, he spent mainly 
on his own estate at Yasnaya Polyana, but with fre- 
quent visits to Moscow and elsewhere. In Moscow 
he was a typical man of society, devoted to gymnastics 
and distinguished by his dandified clothes. Into dress 
he could throw himself with the same passion as into 
other enthusiasms; yet on one occasion (during his 
second trip abroad) he appeared at an evening re- 
ception after a long tramp, without a change of clothes, 
and with wooden sabots on his feet. 

In the beginning of 1858 Tolstoy wrote his notable 
story Three Deaths, in which one may see clear signs of 
the influence of Turgenev's manner. The three deaths 
are of a society dame, fretful, peevish, and self-righteous; 
of a peasant post-driver, calm and resigned; and of a 
tree, majestically submissive to the laws of nature. 
Here, even more clearly than in Childhood and Sevastopol, 
he makes one's attitude towards death the prime test of 
character. In a letter to his cousin the Countess Alex- 
andra, Tolstoy, who was little given to criticism of his 
own works, writes an analysis of this tale that is re- 
markable in its self -revelation: 

You are mistaken in regarding it [Three Deaths] from a 
Christian point of view. My thought was: three beings 
died; a lady, a peasant, and a tree. The lady is pitiable and 
horrid, because she has lied all her life and lies in the presence 
of death. Christianity, as she understands it, does not solve 
for her the question of life and death. Why should she die, 

LIFE AND WORK, 1X53-&2 67 

when she wants to live? In the promises of Christianity as to 
the future she believes with her imagination and her intellect, 
yet her whole being revolts and she has no other consolation 
except the pseudo-Christian one — and the place for any other 
is occupied. She is horrid and pitiable. The peasant dies 
calmly, for the very reason that he is not a Christian. His re- 
ligion is different, although in obedience to custom he has 
performed the Christian ceremonies; his religion is nature, 
with which he has lived. He himself has felled trees, sown rye 
and reaped it, killed sheep; and sheep have been born to him 
and children have been born, and old men have died; and he 
firmly knows tins law, from which he has never turned aside, 
like the lady, but has looked it straight and frankly in the eyes. 
"Une brute" you say, but what is there bad about une brute? 
Une brute is happiness and beauty, harmony with the whole 
world, and not such discord as that of the lady. The tree 
dies calmly, honorably, and beautifully. Beautifully — be- 
cause it does not lie, does not parade itself, does not fear, 
does not regret. That is my thought, with which you, of 
course, do not agree, but which it is impossible to dispute — it 
exists both in my soul and in yours. That this thought is 
expressed miserably, I agree with you. Otherwise with your 
fine feeling you would have understood, and I should not be 
writing this explanation, which, I fear, will even anger you and 
make you impatient with me. Do not be impatient, grand- 
mother [Tolstoy's pet name for the Countess]. I possess, and in 
a high degree, the Christian feeling; but I have this too, and 
it is very precious to me. This is the feeling of truth and beauty, 
and that is a personal feeling, of love and calm. How they 
are united I do not know and I cannot explain; but the cat 
and the dog sit in the same lumber-room — that is positive. — 
[Correspondence with the Counters A. A. Toktoy, pp. 101, lO^.J 


There could not be a clearer statement of the two 
conflicting sides of Tolstoy's nature. A few months 
before he had been fascinated by reading at the same 
time the Iliad and the Gospel. He regretted that there 
was no connection between them. "How could Homer 
fail to know that God is love?" he wrote in his diary. 
And he answers his own query: "Revelation — there is 
no better explanation."* 

In February, 1859, Tolstoy was elected a member of 
the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature, in Moscow, 
and, according to custom, was required to deliver an 
initiation speech. In this address he showed his dislike 
of the Liberal creed by exalting the preeminence in 
literature of its purely artistic elements over all tempo- 
rary and accidental tendencies. The president of the 
society, the noted Slavophile Homyakov, in a flattering 
reply, took him gently to task: 

A writer, a servant of pure art, sometimes becomes a re- 
buker of society even without being aware of it, independently 
of his own will and even against his will. I will venture, count, 
to take you yourself as an example. You are advancing 
steadfastly and with no deviation along a definite path of which 
you are conscious; but are you completely free from that ten- 
dency called the literature of rebuke? In the picture of 
the dying post-driver, for example, who lies dying on 
the oven amid a crowd of comrades who are apparently 
indifferent to his sufferings, did you not rebuke a certain 
social disease, a certain vice? In describing that death did 
*Biryuk6v: I, 329. 


you not suffer from the callous unfcrliugness of kind |>ut 

unawakened human souls? Yes, you have been, and you 

will involuntarily continue to be a rebuker. — [Biryukov: 
I, 851.] 

To this convincing argument Tolstoy would have 
answered, if we may judge by his later reasoning in 
War and Peace, that he had never wished to deny the 
influence of literature on the moral life of the indi- 
vidual, but that between such influence and any possible 
effect on the organization of society there is an impassable 

Tolstoy's life on his home estate was wholesome and 
full of pleasure. With him there lived for some time 
his sister Marya and a distant relative, his "aunt" 
Tatyana Ergolsky. Of his companionship with the 
latter he writes charmingly: 

I remember the long autumn and winter evenings, and those 
evenings have remained for me a marvelous recollection. To 
those evenings I am obliged for my best thoughts, for the 
best movements of my soul. You sit in your chair, read, and 
think, and occasionally you hear her talk with Natalya Pe- 
trovna or with the chambermaid Dunechka, who was always 
kind and gentle; you exchange a word w r ith her and again 

you sit and read and think The chief charm of this 

life was in the absence of all material care; in good relations 
with all; in firm, indubitably good relations with those 
nearest you, which no one could disturb; and in the absence 
of haste, the unconsciousness of the passage of time. — [Biryu- 
kov: I, 335.1 


Spring had a beneficent effect on Tolstoy as on other 
authors before him. In April, 1858, he wrote to the 
Countess Alexandra Tolstoy: 

Sometimes you make a mistake and think that a future of 
happiness awaits not nature alone, but yourself as well; and 
then you feel splendid. I am now in such a condition, and with 
the egoism peculiar to me I hasten to write to you of matters 
interesting only to myself. — I know very well, when I con- 
sider the matter sensibly, that I am an old, frozen, rotten 
potato, boiled and served with sauce, but the spring so acts 
on me that I sometimes catch myself in a burst of ardent 
dreams that I am a vegetable which is just about to bud 
forth along with others, and which will grow simply, calmly, 
and joyously in God's world. — [Correspondence with the Countess 
A. A, Tolstoy, pp. 98, 99.] 

In the next letter this vegetable delight in spring is 
replaced by a more poetic tone : 

At this moment under my very window two nightingales 
are singing away. I am making experiments on them; and, 
just imagine, I succeed in attracting them to my window 
by sixths on the piano. I discovered this accidentally. Some 
days ago, according to my custom, I was drumming out 
sonatas by Haydn, in which there are sixths. Suddenly I 
heard out of doors and in auntie's room (she has a canary) 
whistling, twittering, and trills to the accompaniment of my 
sixths. I stopped and they stopped. I began again, and 
they began (two nightingales and a canary). I passed three 
hours at this occupation. — [Ibid., pp. 100, 101. ] 

At this period, in December, 1858, Tolstoy had an 
adventure which nearly cost him his life, and which he 

LIFE AND WORK, 1855-62 71 

later narrated, with some changes, in one of his stories 
for children. Gromeka, one of his friends, had arranged 

a hunt for an enormous she-bear. The gentlemen 
hunters were stationed at advantageous points, while 
peasant beaters drove on the game towards them. 
Tolstoy stood in the deep snow, having neglected to 
follow instructions and trample a hard place all about 
him. The bear rushed upon him, and was not halted 
by a shot which he fired at close range, and which 
lodged in its jaw. Knocking Tolstoy down, it tried to 
seize his head in its jaws, and tore the flesh above 
and below his left eye. Only the timely arrival of a 
peasant bear-hunter saved Tolstoy from death. 

Two shadows, neither of them very deep, run across 
this picture of a decidedly happy life. As a practical 
farm manager Tolstoy was far from being an un- 
qualified success. In May, 1859, he wrote his cousin 
that he was on the point of bankruptcy. But in his 
next letter he tells her that she has erred in taking him 
too literally: "I cannot become bankrupt, because I 
am alone, and I know how (I say it with pride) to earn 
my own bread." On the other hand, Tolstoy's literary 
work since his return from Sevastopol had been compara- 
tively small in amount, and, great as were its artistic 
merits, it had not increased his reputation as a writer. 
His one literary friend in the vicinity was the poet 
Fet, who owned an estate not far from Yasnaya Poly ana, 
and with whom he maintained an intimacy that con- 
tinued interrupted until after his own religious con- 


version. To Fet and to Tolstoy, Druzhinin, the critic 
of the Contemporary group, addressed letters in June, 
1860, urging them to greater literary activity. Upon 
Tolstoy he urged his responsibility to the Russian 
public, which looked to literature for instruction as well 
as recreation. He reminded him of the serious and 
high aims of the circle of authors to which they both 
belonged. Such arguments were not in the least likely 
to affect Tolstoy. 

A main cause of Tolstoy's indifference to his career 
as a writer of fiction was his revived interest in the 
problem of popular education. His early experiment of 
organizing a school for peasant children, in 1849, soon 
after he left the University of Kazan, in has been al- 
ready mentioned (p. 11) ; in 1859, he had renewed his at- 
tempt with far more ardor and persistence. He was now 
eager to study educational conditions in the west in order 
to prepare himself for his own work. A second motive 
for a trip abroad was the desire to join his brother 
Nikolay, who was suffering from consumption and 
had been sent to Soden for treatment. He left Russia, 
accompanied by his sister Mary a, in July, 1860. 

On this second journey abroad, which lasted until 
May, 1861, Tolstoy studied works on education and 
observed diligently the practice of German and French 
schools. Of his remarks and conclusions something 
will be said in the following chapter. He visited Berlin, 
Leipzig, Dresden, Rome, Marseilles, Paris, London, and 
Brussels, meeting some of the most famous men in 


Europe, among them the novelist Auerbach, of whose 
works he was a devout admirer; the socialist Proudhon, 
who left on him the impression of a strong man, with 
the courage of his convictions; and, in London, the 
Russian exile Ilerzen. Herzen's daughter has told how, 
as a little girl, she nestled down in a chair in her father's 
study, awaiting with trembling heart the arrival of 
Count Tolstoy, whose works she had read with delight. 
To her surprise he proved to be a dandified individual, 
dressed in the latest English style, who talked with her 
father about cock-fighting and boxing matches. 

The health of Nikolay Tolstoy had not been restored 
by the visit to Soden. The brothers traveled together 
from there to Frankfort, and thence to Hyeres, on the 
south coast of France. There Nikolay Tolstoy died in 
his brother's arms, on September c 20, 18G0. " Nothing 
in my life has ever made such an impression on me," Tol- 
stoy wrote toFct.* In his Confession he couples this event 
with the sight of the execution in Paris as a chief reason 
for his loss of faith in the religion of human progress: 

Another case in which I was conscious of the insufficiency for 
life of the superstition of progress was the death of my brother. 
An intelligent, good, serious man, he fell ill while still young, 
suffered for more than a year, and died in tortures, not under- 
standing why he had lived and still less understanding why he 
was dying. No theories could afford any answer to these 
questions either to me or to him during the time of his slow 
and painful death. — [Ch. 3.] 

* Biryuk6v: I, 37S. 

n Tolstoy 

During his absence from Russia Tolstoy found time 
to write Polikushka, a powerful story of peasant life on 
a gentlewoman's estate. A poor, ignorant manorial 
servant, whom his mistress in a futile sort of fashion is 
trying to cure of his thieving habits, is sent to fetch 
home from town a packet of sixteen hundred rubles. He 
loses them on the way and hangs himself from grief and 
despair; his distracted wife drowns her baby in the 
trough in which she has been washing him. With this 
main plot Tolstoy blends a subordinate motif, of the dis- 
putes among the peasants as to the selection of recruits 
for the army. The usual autobiographic and religious 
elements are entirely lacking. Events speak for them- 
selves, and produce an impression of hopeless, deadening 
misery. The tale, when it was published in 186S, 
aroused the enthusiasm of Turgenev, who wrote to Fet: 

I have read Tolstoy's Polikushka and been amazed at the 
strength of that mighty talent. Only he has wasted a terrible 
lot of material and was wrong in drowning the baby son. That 
makes it too terrible. But there are truly marvelous pages! 
It makes the shivers run down my spinal column, which has 
already become thick and coarse. He is a master, a master! 

This generous praise by Turgenev, which is only one 
of many similar expressions of admiration for Tolstoy's 
genius on his part, is the more remarkable because it 
followed an acute quarrel between the two great authors. 
In the circle of the Contemporary Turgenev was beyond 
question the man of finest literary talent. Despite the 

LIFE AND WORK, 1855-68 75 

present tendency to depreciate him in favor of Dostovev- 
sky, he will probably continue to rank next to Tolstoy 
among the Russian novelists of the past century. With 
him Tolstoy had become more intimate than with any 
other man of the group, despite their fundamental 
differences of temperament. Turgenev was a kindly 
man, of delicately artistic nature, but of little force of 
character, and no moral enthusiasm. In his later 
life he said that he had come to appreciate landscapes 
most of all upon the painter's canvas.* The following 
criticism of On the Eve, in a letter to Fet (1860), illus- 
trates Tolstoy's attitude to his friend's work: 

I have read On the Eve. This is my opinion: generally 
speaking, to write stories is waste labor, most of all for people 
who feel sad and who don't really know what they desire 
from life. However, On the Eve is much better than A Noble- 
man's Nest, and it contains splendid negative types: the 
artist and the father. The others are not only not types, but 
their very conception, their position is not typical, or they are 
absolutely insignificant. However, that is Turgenev's perpetual 
mistake. The girl is wretchedly done: "'Ah, how I love you!' 
— her eyelashes were long." In general, I am always surprised 
in Turgenev by lus inability, despite his intellect and his poetic 
sense, to refrain from the commonplace even in his methods. 
This commonplaceness shows most in his negative methods, 
which remind one of Gogol. He has no humanity and no 
sympathy for his characters, and they turn out monsters, 
whom he rails at and does not pity. This somehow clashes 
painfully with the tone and flavor of liberalism in everything 
* Correspondence villi the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 17. 


else. This was all right ... in Gogol; and one must add 
that if one is not going to pity even his most insignificant 
characters one must either curse them so as to make the air 
blue, or laugh at them so as to make the reader's sides shake, 
not behave as Turgenev does, who suffers from spleen and 
dyspepsia. Speaking generally, no one else could now have 
written such a story, notwithstanding the fact that it will not 
have success. — [Biryukov: I, pp. S52, 353.] 

At another time Tolstoy wrote: "Deuce take him! 
I'm sick of loving him!"* Their companionship had 
never been harmonious. Tolstoy was irritated by 
Turgenev's self-possession and tranquillity, and was 
given to teasing him. One of our first glimpses of them 
together is in a violent dispute in Nekrasov's apart- 
ments. Turgenev is pacing the floor while Tolstoy 
lies on a couch in a huff and exclaims: "I won't let 
him spite me! He insists on walking up and down 
past me and wagging his democratic haunches." f 
In 1857, on Tolstoy's first visit to Paris, they are said to 
have been on the brink of a duel. Now, in 1861, soon 
after Tolstoy's return to Russia, when they were both 
visiting Fet, a far more serious conflict occurred be- 
tween them. Turgenev was telling of the education of 
his daughter, and remarked with approval that her 
English governess insisted on her mending with her 
own hands the clothes of poor people instead of giving 
mere money alms. Tolstoy exclaimed that a well- 
dressed girl, holding dirty, ill-smelling rags on her 
* Biryukov: I, 340. t Ibid., p. 273. 


knees, was playing an insincere and theatrical part. A 
sharp quarrel followed, and Turgenev, pale with rage, 
used the words: "If you talk like that, I'll punch your 
face." Tolstoy, with his inborn spirit of contradiction, 
had been irritating, but the blame was on the side of 
Turgenev. When Tolstoy challenged him to a duel, 
Turgenev, on reflection, sent a rather stiff apology, 
with which Tolstoy expressed himself as satisfied. 
Some months later Tolstoy, in one of his bursts of 
generous kindliness, wrote to Turgenev expressing his 
regret for the whole affair. Of the incident he spoke 
to his cousin: "I may assure you that my part in that 
stupid episode was not a bad one. I was absolutely in 
no way to blame, and, notwithstanding my conscious 
innocence, I wrote to Turgenev the most friendly 
and conciliatory letter; but he answered it so rudely 
that I was forced to break off all relations with him."* 
The broken friendship was restored only many years 
later, in 1878, after Tolstoy's religious conversion. 

Tolstoy's time during the year following his return 
to Russia was occupied by his peasant schools, by literary 
work on educational questions, and by his duties as 
arbiter of the peace between the newly-freed serfs and 
their former masters. During Tolstoy's absence from 
Russia, on March 3, 1861, the tsar had issued the 
great Emancipation Proclamation, which gave freedom to 
the whole Russian peasantry. In the discussion and 
agitation that had preceded this greatest reform of 

* Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 1G. 


modern Russia Tolstoy had taken no part. Of his 
attitude towards it he later told Biryukov: 

As for my attitude at that time to the excited condition of 
all society, I must say (and this is both a good and a bad trait 
in me, but one that has always been peculiar to me) that I 
have always been involuntarily opposed to epidemic influences 
from the outside, and that if I was then excited and joyful, 
it was with my special, personal, internal interests, which 
drew me to the school and to communion with the common 
people. I still recognize in myself the same feeling of resist- 
ance to general enthusiasm that existed then, but which 
showed itself in feeble forms. — [Biryukov: I, pp. 397, 398. J 

His only share in the movement seems to have been 
signing, in September, 1858, along with 104 other land- 
owners of his province, a resolution favoring the freeing 
of the peasants and bestowing on them a portion of 
the land which they tilled, for the loss of which the 
nobility should be compensated. In 1861 he once re- 
marked to a neighbor at a banquet that the country 
was really indebted solely to the emperor for the emanci- 
pation. Here he showed his usual dislike of the Liberal 
party, which had taken the leading share in the great 
reform. Of his own early writings only A Morning of 
a Landed Proprietor and Polihuslika can be interpreted 
as implying condemnation of serfdom, and even in them 
the condemnation is rather of personal stupidity on the 
part of the serf-owner than of the institution itself. 

Towards his own peasants Tolstoy acted fairly, but 
with no marked generosity. Three or four years before 

LIFE AND WORK, 1855-02 

the emancipation he had adopted the libera] plan of 

placing his serfs on a rent basis, instead of exacting from 
them the old manorial labor. At the emancipation 
he gave them no more land than the law required. 
44 The one good thing that I did, or bad thing that I 
refrained from doing," he wrote to Biryukov, "was that 
I did not change the location of my peasants, as I 
had been advised to do, and that I left the pasture land 
at their disposal. In general I showed no unselfish 
feelings in my course of action at that time."* 

Tolstoy means by this that he did not act in any such 
way as the dictates of his later religious views would 
have led him to do. Among his fellow serf-owners he 
seems to have been regarded as a dangerous radical. 
In order to adjust relations between the emancipated 
peasants and their former lords, the government created 
officials known as "arbiters of the peace," chosen from 
among the members of the country gentry who had 
been in sympathy with the reform. In May, 1861, the 
governor of the province of Tula appointed Tolstoy as 
arbiter, despite an energetic protest from the pro- 
vincial and district marshals of the nobility, who ap- 
parently thought him a man not likely in his official 
duties to serve the interests of his own class. This 
office as arbiter was the only position under the gov- 
ernment that Tolstoy ever held after his retirement 
from the army. His career in it was, to speak frankly, 
a failure, owing to his refusal to putter with the petty 

♦Biryukov: I, 408. 


details of his work. Men and women Tolstoy under- 
stood; government documents he despised. One paper 
he forwarded to his superiors with the following signa- 
ture: "To this document, at the request of such-and- 
such men, because of their illiteracy, such-and-such a 
house servant has set his hand." The obedient servant 
had written with Chinese fidelity from the Count's 
dictation, without inserting the necessary proper names, 
and Tolstoy had sealed and dispatched the document 
without even glancing at it. 

In his practical work Tolstoy strove for impartiality, 
but he leaned always toward the side of the peasants. 
His hasty temper made him far from conciliatory to the 
proprietors. As early as July, 1861, he wrote in his diary: 
"The arbitership . . . has involved me in quarrels 
with all the land-owners and has injured my health."* 
Thus one Madam Artyukhov made complaint to him 
of her former house-serf, Mark Grigoryev, who had 
left her, regarding himself as a man "completely free." 
Tolstoy wrote in reply: 

Mark will immediately, according to my instructions, de- 
part with his wife wherever he pleases, and I beg you most 
humbly: (1) to compensate him for the three months and a 
half during which he was illegally retained in your service 
after the time of the Emancipation Proclamation and (2) for a 
beating inflicted on his wife, still more illegally. If you do not 
like my decision, you have the right of appeal to the district 
sessions and to the provincial board. I shall make no further 
*Biryuk6v: I, 414. 

LIFE AND WORK, 1855-62 81 

explanations on tin-; subject. With .ureal respect, I have the 
honor t<> be your humble servant, Count, L. Tolstoy. — [Biryu- 

kov: I, 410.] 

In tliis case Tolstoy's decision was ultimately con- 
firmed, but in various other eases he was not so for- 
tunate. On May 1 L 2, 18G2, he passed over his duties 
to a subordinate, on the ground of ill health, and a few 
weeks later was formally relieved of his office. In a 
letter written somewhat later to his cousin the Countess 
Alexandra Tolstoy, he gives his own view of his conduct 
as an official: 

Outcries against my arbitcrship have reached even you, 
but I asked twice for a trial and twice the court announced 
not only that I was in the right, but that there was no ground 
for a trial; but not only before their court, but before my ow T n 
do I know, especially as to the last period of my 
work, that I softened, softened too much the law in behalf of 
the nobility. — [Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, 
p. 104.] 

Worn out by work and worry over the arbitership 
and his peasant school, Tolstoy departed for the prov- 
ince of Samara to take the kumys cure. On June 1, 
while traveling on the steamer, he made the following 
entry in his diary : 

I seem to be born again to life and the knowledge of it. The 
thought of the folly of progress persecutes me. With the 
clever and the foolish, with old men and children, I talk 
of this one subject. — [Birynkov: I, 457.] 


Tolstoy's search for rest and health was interrupted 
by news from home that aroused him to a burst of fury. 
His conduct as arbiter, or his work on popular education, 
in which he was aided by some students who had 
cherished revolutionary sympathies, had aroused the 
suspicions of the government authorities, who ordered 
a search of his premises. His feelings, and the events that 
occasioned them, can best be understood from his letters 
to his cousin the Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, who was 
living in St. Petersburg on intimate terms with the 
highest officials of the empire; she, he hoped, might 
aid him to present a complaint to the tsar. The first 
was written from Moscow, on his way home, early in 

They write me from Yasnaya:- on July 13 there came three 
troikas of gendarmes, who forbade everybody to leave the 
house, probably even auntie, and started to search the prem- 
ises. What they were looking for is still unknown. One of 
your friends, a dirty colonel, read all my letters and diaries, 
which I intended to confide only just before my death to the 
friend who will then be nearest of all to me; he read two sets 
of letters for the secrecy of which I would have given every 
thing in the world — and departed, announcing that he had 
found nothing suspicious. It is my good fortune and your 
friend's also that I was not there; I should have killed him. 
Fine! Glorious! That is the way in which the government is 
making friends for itself. If you remember me on my political 
side, you know that always, and especially since the time 
when I fell in love with my school, I have been completely 
indifferent to the government and still more indifferent to the 

LIFE AND WORK, 1855-63 8:3 

Liberals of our time, whom I despise with my whole soul. 
Now I cannot say that. I feel anger and repugnance, almost 
hatred, for that dear government, which searches my prem- 
ises for a lithographic or printing outfit to reproduce pro- 
clamations of Herzen which I despise, which I have not the 

patience to read for very boredom 

Once I wrote to you that it is impossible to seek a quiet 
refuge in life, but that one must toil, work, suffer. That is all 
possible, but only if it were possible to flee somewhere from 
these robbers whose cheeks and hands are washed with scented 
soap and who smile courteously. Truly, if my life is spared for 
long I shall retire into a monastery, not to pray to God — that 
to my thinking is useless — but in order not to see all the 
filth of worldly corruption, puffed-up, self-satisfied, and in 
epaulets and crinolines. — Foh! — How can you, excellent person 
that you are, live in St. Petersburg! That I shall never under- 
stand; perhaps you have cataracts on your eyes, so that you 
see nothing. — [Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, 
pp. 162, 163.] 

A second letter, written from Yasnaya Polyana on 
August 20, is in far greater detail. An extract will give 
an idea of its tone : 

I write this letter after reflection, trying to forget nothing 
and to add nothing, in order that you may show it to divers 
robbers, the Potapopovs and the Dolgorukys, who are purposely 
sowing hatred against the government and lowering the em- 
peror in the eyes of his subjects. I will not and cannot let 
this matter pass. All my occupation, in which I found happi- 
ness and comfort, is ruined. Auntie is so ill that she will not re- 
cover. The peasants already regard me not as an honest man, 


a reputation that I have earned by years, but as a criminal, 
a man guilty of arson or of counterfeiting, who has escaped 
punishment only through knavery. "Ah, my friend! You're 
caught! Quit talking to us of honor and justice; they almost 
put you in irons." Of the land-owners I need not speak — just a 
groan of delight. Pray write me quickly . . . how to write 
and how to forward a letter to the emperor. There is no other 
way out except to receive a satisfaction as public as the injury 
done me ... or to expatriate myself, on which I am firmly 
decided. I shall not join Herzen; Herzen may take care of 
himself and I of myself . I shall not dissemble; I shall announce 
publicly that I am selling my estate in order to leave Russia, 
where it is impossible to know a moment in advance that I 
myself, my sister, my wife, and my mother will not be put in 
irons and flogged — and I shall leave. — [Ibid., pp. 163, 164.] 

These letters show Tolstoy's sentimental loyalty to 
the tsar, which was not mixed with any admiration for 
government officials; the point of view of the peasant 
and of the aristocrat of long descent ! With it he joined 
a passionate readiness to revolt when the heel of op- 
pression touched him personally; at the close of the 
letter he says that he has loaded pistols ready in case of a 
repetition of the insult. Evidently only his passionate 
individualism kept him from sympathy with the revo- 
lutionary movement. One may add that Tolstoy 
succeeded in personally delivering a petition for satis- 
faction to Alexander II during one of his visits to Moscow; 
"the emperor later, it seems, sent an aide-de-camp to 
Lev Nikolayevich with an apology."* 

*Biryuk6v: 1,462. 


Tolstoy had long felt the loneliness of his bachelor 
existence, but no real love had conic into his life. In 
April, 1858, he had written to his cousin: "When I 

arrived at my country house it seemed to me that I was a 
widower, that recently there had been living here my 
whole family, whom I had lost. And in very truth the 
family of my imagination did live there. And what a 
charming family! I regret especially my oldest son! 
And my wife was splendid, although a strange woman."* 
Now, almost over night, on his return from the kumys 
cure, he fell passionately in love with Sofya Behrs, 
a girl of eighteen, the second daughter of Dr. Behrs, 
a Russian of German extraction, who had married Miss 
Islenev, a friend of Tolstoy's childhood. In June, 
1856, he had visited this family and noted in his diary: 
u The children served us. What dear, jolly little girls !" f 
In the summer of 1862 he went very frequently to their 
home, and was regarded as a suitor for the oldest daugh- 
ter, Liza. To Sofya he declared himself in a fashion 
that he has made famous in Anna Karenin, While 
standing with her by a card table, he wrote on it with 
chalk the letters: Iyfteaf vomaysLyaTsci. 
This the girl interpreted correctly as: "In your family 
there exists a false view of me and your sister Liza; 
you and Tanya should correct it." He then wrote 
further: Yyanohtvrmomoaatioh, which 
signified : " Your youth and need of happiness too vividly 

* Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 99 
tBiryukov: I, 294. •' i • 


remind me of my old age and the impossibility of happi- 
ness." After this the two fully understood each other. 

Meanwhile Tolstoy according to his wont was busily 
analyzing his own feelings. On September 4 he wrote 
in his diary: "I fear myself: what if this too is only the 
desire of love, and not love itself? I try to look only at 
her weak sides and still I love her."* Finding himself 
firm in his affection, he made a formal proposal on 
September 29 and was accepted. He thereupon, with 
characteristic honesty, which he later reproduced in 
his hero Levin, handed to his betrothed the diary in 
which he had recorded all the sins of his youth. The 
girl, though bitterly undeceived in her fancies as to 
her future husband, did not waver in her affection for 
him. They were married almost immediately, on 
October 5, in the Court Church in the Moscow Kremlin, 
and after the ceremony they drove to Yasnaya Polyana, 
where they were welcomed by Tolstoy's brother Sergey 
and by his "Aunt Tatyana." 

A new period of Tolstoy's life had begun, 
* Biryukov: I, 471. 



jEFERENCE has already been made to 
Tolstoy's experiments in popular education 
among the peasant children on his estate, 
and to his study of educational problems 
during his second trip abroad. One may say without 
exaggeration that interest in education was Tolstoy's 
most fervent intellectual enthusiasm up to the time 
of his marriage, meaning more to him even than his 
brilliant success as a writer of fiction. Thus on August 
19, 1862, he wrote to the Countess Alexandra Tol- 

You know what the school has meant to me ever since I 
opened it. It has been my whole life; it has been my monas- 
tery, my church, in which I sought and found salvation from 
all the anxieties, doubts, and temptations of life. I tore my- 
self away from it for the sake of my sick brother; and, still 
more weary, and seeking work and love, I returned home. — 
[Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 1G4.J 

Tolstoy's position as arbiter of the peace enabled 
him to have influence on other schools besides that 



which he had himself started at Yasnaya Polyana, 
and he engaged a dozen students to help him in his 
work. "In 1862, when I was arbiter," he writes, "four- 
teen schools were opened in a district containing 10,000 
people. Besides this there were about ten schools in the 
same district held at the houses of the church ser- 
vants and among the servants on various estates."* 
In this same year, 1862, his enthusiasm led him to es- 
tablish an educational journal, Yasnaya Polyana, in 
which he printed several articles on educational prob- 
lems. The periodical had small practical success and 
cost him much money. After his marriage in October, 
1862, Tolstoy became absorbed in new cares and duties, 
and for some years ceased work in his school; he also 
soon discontinued his journal, of which but twelve 
numbers appeared. Yet he had not lost his interest 
in educational questions; in 1868, before he had quite 
completed his great novel War and Peace, he made a 
note of a plan for an elementary text-book in reading. 
This led to the publication in 1872 of a Primer, which 
was divided into four books; this was revised and re- 
issued in 1875 as A New Primer, followed by four 
graded Readers in the Russian language and four in the 
Slavic language (that used in Russia for the church 
service and for purposes of religious instruction). These 
little books have had a wider circulation, at least in 
Russia, than any other of Tolstoy's writings; Biryukov 
in 1908 estimated the sale of the New Primer at 1,500,000 
* On Popular Education (1874). 


copies.* Meanwhile their author had early in 1872 
opened a school for peasants in his own house, and in 
the fall of that year he was eagerly explaining his methods 
to teachers whom he had invited to hear him. In 1874 
he defended his views at a meeting of the Moscow 
Committee of Literacy. His theories and those of his 
opponents were given a practical test, but with no de- 
cisive results. In support of them he published an 
article On Popular Education (1874), in which he re- 
peated much the same doctrine as in his periodical of 
twelve years before. Besides all this, Tolstoy had in 
1873 been interested in a project for establishing an 
advanced school for peasants, "a university in bast 
shoes," to use his own term, which the pupils should be 
able to attend without altering their way of life. Setting 
aside his repugnance for social activity, he sought aid 
from the provincial council (zemstuo), but that body 
preferred to devote the funds at its disposal to a statue 
of the Empress Catherine II! Finally, in 1876 and 1877 
he had dreams of organizing a teachers' seminary. 
After his religious conversion in 1878 Tolstoy's views 
on education naturally assumed an entirely new char- 
acter, becoming a mere corollary to his religious views. 
During the whole period from 1862 to 1874 Tolstoy's 
writings on education present an essentially consistent 
body of doctrine, and they may be treated as a w r hole, 
without regard to questions of chronology. Aside 

* Perhaps this figure is too high; in 1901 (in the Brockhaus-Efron 
Encyclopedia) Vengerov estimates the sale as "over 800,000." 


from the Primer and the Readers, and a few minor 
pieces that have unfortunately never been reprinted, 
they consist of the following articles published in the 
journal Ydsnaya Polydna: On Popular Education 
(1862), On Methods of Teaching Reading, A Project 
of a General Plan for Organizing Popular Schools (a 
critique of a plan proposed by the government), Educa- 
tion and Culture, Progress and the Definition of Education, 
Who Is to Teach the Art of Writing: We to the Peasant 
Children, or the Peasant Children to Us? and Ydsnaya 
Polydna School in November and December [1861] — and 
of the article On Popular Education published in 1874. 
These articles are Tolstoy's first writings of a distinctly 
didactic nature. They make perfectly plain certain 
points of view that were implicit in his works of fiction, 
and they contain in a rudimentary form many of the 
characteristic doctrines that he later developed, giving 
to them, however, a different logical basis in his re- 
ligious system, in his works on ethical, social, and 
esthetic questions. 

First of all, Tolstoy condemns the whole fabric of 
modern education and the principles on which it rests, 
and supports his condemnation by remarks on actual 
conditions in France and Germany, as he had himself 
observed them. The great sin of modern education, 
according to Tolstoy, is that it is founded on com- 
pulsion, being forced by the government upon an 
unwilling people who do not desire it, but who do desire 
something quite different. 


Popular education has always and everywhere presented, 
and continues to present, the same phenomenon, which for me 

is incomprehensible. The common people desire education, 
and each single individual unconsciously strives for education. 
The more educated class of men — society, the government — 
strives to impart its knowledge and to educate the less educated 
class of the people. It would seem that such a concurrence 
of needs should satisfy both the educating class and that which 
is being educated. But the reverse is the case. The people 
constantly resist the efforts employed for their education 
by society or by the government, as representatives of the 
more educated class, and these efforts for the most part are 
without result. . . 

Germany, the founder of the school, has not succeeded by a 
struggle of almost two hundred years in overcoming the re- 
sistance of the people to the school. . . Notwithstanding the 
strictness of a law that has existed for two hundred years, 
notwithstanding the preparation of teachers of the newest 
fashion in seminaries, notwithstanding all a German's feeling 
of submission to the law, the compulsion of the school still 
weighs upon the people with its full force; the German gov- 
ernments do not venture to abolish the law of compulsory 
education. Germany may pride itself on the education of its 
people by statistical tables; but the people, as formerly, 
generally derive from the school only repulsion for the school. . . 

Reality has shown me the following: a father sends his 
daughter or son to school against his own wish, cursing the 
institution that deprives him of the labor of his son, and 
counting the days till the time when his son shall become 
sckulfrei — the mere word shows how the people regard the 
schools. The child goes to school with the conviction that 
the authority of his father, which is the only one he knows, 



does not approve the authority of the government, to which 
he submits in entering school. — [On Popular Education (1862).] 

This use of compulsion in education would be justified 
if the educated, upper classes who prescribe the school 
program really knew what they wished to teach; that 
is, if there were a universally recognized religious sanc- 
tion for education, such as there was in the middle 

A hundred [mistake for four hundred?] years'ago, neither in 
Europe nor in our own country could the question what to 
teach and how to teach have arisen. Education was insep- 
arably connected with religion. To learn to read meant to 
study Holy Scripture. In Mohammedan countries there sur- 
vives until today in full force this connection between learning 
to read and religion. To study means to study the Koran and 
therefore the Arabic language. But as soon as religion ceased 
to be the criterion of what one must study, and the school 
became independent of it, this question was bound to arise. — 
[On Popular Education (1874).] 

Compare the dogmatic school of the middle ages, in which 
truths were undoubted, and our school, in which no one knows 
what is truth, but to which, nevertheless, the pupil is forcibly 
compelled to go, and the parents to send their children. . . 
It was easy for the medieval school to know what to teach, 
what to teach first and what to teach next, and how to teach, 
when there was only one method and when all science was 
concentrated in the Bible and the books of Augustine and 
Aristotle. — [On Popular Education (1862).] 

But at the present time, Tolstoy continues, there is no 
consensus of opinion as to what should be taught; 


"the theological tendency struggles with the scholastic, 
the scholastic with the classical, the classical with the 
scientific [real], and at the present time all these 
tendencies exist, without one's subduing the other, and 
no one knows what is false and what is true."* "The 
university does not like the clerical education, and 
says that there is nothing worse than the seminaries; 
the clerics do not like the university education and 
say that there is nothing worse than the universities, 
that they are only schools of pride and atheism; parents 
condemn the universities, the universities condemn the 
military schools, the government condemns the uni- 
versities, and vice versa." f The most highly educated 
men justify education as a means of progress, by which 
they mean a change for the better in the condition 
of humanity as time passes by. But this progress is a 
pure assumption, incapable of proof: 

I, like all men free from the superstition of progress, see only 
that humanity lives; . . . that the labors of the past often 
serve as a foundation for new labors of the present, and often 
serve as a barrier for them; that the well-being of men now 
increases in one place, in one class, and in one sense, and now 
diminishes; that, however desirable it might be for me to do 
so, I cannot find any general law in the life of mankind; and 
that to subordinate history to the idea of progress is as easy 
as to subordinate it to any other idea or to any historical dream 
that you please. I will say more : I see no necessity for searching 
out general laws in history, to say nothing of the impossibility 

* On Popular Education (1862). f Education and Culture. 


of it. A general eternal law is written in the soul of each man. 
The law of progress, or perfectibility, is written in the soul of 
each man and is transferred to history only in consequence of 
an error. While it remains personal, this law is fruitful and 
is accessible to each man; transferred to history, it becomes 
idle, empty chatter, leading to the justification of all sorts of 
nonsense and fatalism. Progress in general in all humanity 
has never been proved a fact, and it does not exist for any of 
the oriental nations; and therefore to say that progress is a 
law of humanity is just as lacking in foundation as to say that 
all men are blond with the exception of the brunettes. . . . 

We can admit that progress leads to well-being only when 
the whole people subject to the action of progress shall rec- 
ognize that action as good and useful, while now in nine 
tenths of the population, the so-called common, laboring 
people, we constantly see the opposite; and, in the second 
place, when it shall be proved that progress leads to the per- 
fecting of all sides of human life, or that all sides of its in- 
fluence taken together produce more good and useful conse- 
quences than bad and injurious ones. The common people, 
that is the mass of the nation, nine tenths of all men, con- 
stantly show a hostile attitude to progress, and constantly not 
only fail to recognize its benefits, but positively and consciously 
recognize the harm that it does them. — [Progress and the Defi- 
nition of Education.] 

Tolstoy then points out that progress, while aiding 
some sides of human well-being, such as the improve- 
ment of ways of communication and the development 
of the art of printing, has injured others, such as the 
primitive wealth of nature, strong physical development, 
and purity of morals. An unbiased mind, he main- 


tains, will sec in the celebrated third chapter of Ma- 
caulay's History evidence of retrogression rather than 
of progress. "We personally regard the forward move- 
ment of civilization as one of the greatest evils due 
to violence to which a certain part of humanity is sub- 
ject, and we do not regard that movement as inevitable."* 
Compulsion in education, Tolstoy proceeds to argue, 
can then in no way be justified, since, lacking the uni- 
versal sanction of religion, teachers do not know what 
to teach, and since the ideal of progress for which they 
profess to labor is illusory. In practice, the results of 
compulsory education are inevitably bad. The ex- 
perience of France coincides with that of Germany; 
the people gain almost nothing from the obligatory 
state schools and derive their real education from the 
great, free school of life: 

A year ago I was in Marseilles and visited all the educational 
institutions for workinginen of that city. The proportion of 
pupils to the population is so large that, with few exceptions, 
all the children go to school for three, four, or six years. The 
programs of the schools consist in the committing to memory 
of the catechism, sacred and general history, the four rules of 
arithmetic, French orthography, and bookkeeping. . . . Not 
one boy in these schools was able to solve, that is to state, the 
most simple problem of addition or subtraction. At the same 
time they performed operations with abstract numbers, 
multiplying thousands with ease and speed. To questions on 
the history of France they replied well by rote, but when I 
asked at haphazard I got the answer that Henry IV was killed 
* Progress and Uic Definition of Education. 


by Julius Caesar. It was the same in geography and sacred 
history, the same in orthography and reading. More than half 
the girls are unable to read anything except the books that 
they have studied. Six years of school do not give the ability 
to write a word without a mistake. ... I became convinced 
that the educational institutions of the city of Marseilles are 
extraordinarily bad. 

If some one, by some miracle, had seen all these institutions 
without seeing the people on the streets, in the workshops, in 
the caf6s, in their private life, then what opinion would he 
have formed of a people so educated? He would surely have 
concluded that it was an ignorant, coarse, hypocritical people, 
full of prejudices and almost savage. But one needs only to 
get on familiar terms with one of the common folk and chat 
with him to convince himself that, on the contrary, the French 
people is almost such as it regards itself; clever, intelligent, 
social, open-minded, and really civilized. Look at a city work- 
man about thirty years old : he will write a letter with no such 
mistakes as are made in school, sometimes with none at all; 
he has some conception of politics, consequently of contempo- 
rary history and of geography; he knows some history from 
novels; he has some information as to the natural 
sciences. He very often knows how to draw and applies 
mathematical formulas in his trade. Where did he acquire 
all that? 

I involuntarily found an answer to this in Marseilles, when 
after visiting the schools I started to wander along the streets 
and to frequent the wine-gardens, cafes chantants, museums, 
workshops, wharves, and bookshops. The same boy who had 
given me the answer that Henry IV was killed by Julius 
Csesar knew very well the history of The Three Musketeers 
and Monte Cristo. In Marseilles I found twenty-eight cheap 


illustrated papers, costing from five to ten centimes. Among 
250,000 inhabitants they have a circulation of 30,000, so that 
if we suppose that ten persons read or listen to one number, 
they all read them. Besides this there are the museum, the 
public libraries, the theaters. Next come the cafes, two large 
cafes chantants, which every one has the right to enter so long 
as he spends fifty centimes in them, and which are daily 
visited by as many as 25,000 persons, not counting the little 
cafes, which accommodate as many more — in each of these 
cafes little comedies and dramatic scenes are produced and 
verses are declaimed. Thus at the lowest reckoning a fifth part 
of the population receives oral instruction every day, just as 
the Greeks and Romans received it in their amphitheaters. 
Whether that education be good or bad is another thing; 
but there it is, an unconscious education many times 
stronger than the compulsory; there it is, an unconscious 
school that has undermined the compulsory school and 
made its content almost nil. There remains only the des- 
potic form, almost without content. — [On Popular Education 

Obviously the true course for an educator, Tolstoy 
concludes, is to reject the element of compulsion in 
education, and to adopt the methods of the free school of 
life, giving to the uneducated people the sort of educa- 
tion that they themselves desire. This is even more true 
in Russia than in western Europe, since in Russia schools 
have still to be created and no false traditions hamper 
the educator. "If we become convinced that popular 
education in Europe is advancing along a false path, 
then by doing nothing for our own popular education we 


shall do more than if we suddenly introduce into it by 
violence all that seems good to each of us."* 

For Tolstoy, the two cardinal questions of education 
are, what to teach, and how to teach it. The sole 
criterion by which the first can be answered is freedom; 
the sole method by which the second can be solved is 
experience, f 

Not even reading must be forced on the people if they 
do not wish to learn it: 

If the question be put thus: "Is primary education useful 
or not for the people?'* — then no one can give a negative 
answer. But if some one asks: "Is it useful to teach the 
people to read when it does not know how to read and has no 
books to read?" then I hope that every impartial man will 
answer: "I do not know, just as I do not know whether it 
would be useful to teach the whole people to play the fiddle or 
to make shoes." Looking closer at the results of the ability to 
read in the form in which it is imparted to the people, I think 
that the majority will reply unfavorably to reading, taking into 
consideration the prolonged compulsion, the disproportionate 
development of memory, the false idea of the completeness of 
science, the repugnance for further education, the false self- 
love, and the opportunity for senseless reading that are ac- 
quired in these schools. In the school at Yasnaya Polyana all 
the pupils who enter from the reading schools continually fall 
behind the pupils who enter from the school of life, and not 
only fall behind them, but fall behind them the more the longer 
they have been taught in the reading school. — [On Methods oj 
Teaching Reading.] 
* On Popular Education (1862). f On Popular Education (1874). 


But in general, accepting the criterion of freedom, 
the program of popular schools in Russia is settled, as 
Tolstoy tells us in his article On Popular Education 
(1874), by the demands of the population; the masses 
desire to know the Russian and the Slavic languages, and 
arithmetic, and nothing more. Tolstoy's problem was 
how to teach these three subjects in the most effective 
manner. In practice, however, he was far from re- 
stricting himself to this program, but introduced any 
other subjects — such as drawing, natural science, and 
history — that he found appealed to the children, though 
presumably not so greatly to their fathers and mothers. 
There is a wide difference between the rather narrow 
dictum just quoted from his article written in 1874 
and the freer tone of his writings in his own periodical, 
twelve years earlier. In 1862 he was guided by his own 
experience in his school, in 1874 by reasonings based 
on the demands of the adult peasants. 

With regard to methods of instruction Tolstoy's 
experience was similar; he acquired a fervent dislike 
for western models. The object in the schools he visited 
was, he concluded, to choose the methods that would 
make life easiest for the teacher. Great emphasis 
was laid on external order, which deadens interest and 
thereby destroys the pupils' ability to learn. Nor did 
theories of pedagogy seem to Tolstoy of any value. 
In all pedagogy there is but one principle of real im- 
portance, to arouse the interest of the pupil and es- 
tablish natural, human relations between him and the 


teacher. This principle he admits is found in the man- 
uals of pedagogy. "The difference between us is 
only this, that they [the pedagogues] lose this concep- 
tion that teaching should arouse the interest of the 
child, in a number of other conceptions about develop- 
ment, which contradict it; . . . while I regard the 
arousing of interest in the child, the greatest possible 
ease of study, and therefore its naturalness and freedom 
from compulsion, as the fundamental and the only 
test of good and bad teaching."* 

Tolstoy gives a specific illustration of his point of 
view in his discussion of methods of teaching reading. 
The old church method was to make children memorize 
the Slavic names of the letters, az, buki, and so on, and 
then to spell out words by means of them. Passages of 
the Psalter, unintelligible to the pupils, had to be com- 
mitted to memory. The new sound method, imported 
from Germany, teaches the sound of each letter, not 
its name, and begins practice in reading with the simplest 
sentences. The second method cannot be termed an 
improvement on the first. The energy of the teacher is 
dissipated in an unsuccessful attempt to make the 
children pronounce the consonants, such as b and v, 
without a following vowel; and the meaningless twaddle 
that they read arouses the children's contempt. One 
boy may learn to read from his brother by the old- 
fashioned method in a few weeks, while his companion 
may work a year under this improved German method 

* On Popular Education (1874). 


without results. To be sure, Tolstoy himself prefers 

still another method, the be-O, bo method, to all others, 

but he frankly admits that a teacher who had studied 
with him made a wretched failure when he tried to apply 
it in another school in which conditions were different. 

When all is said, the only true method consists of ex- 
perience and experiment: 

The best method for a given teacher is that which is best 
known to the teacher. All other methods that the teacher knows 
or may invent should aid the teaching begun by one method. . . . 

Each separate individual, in order to learn reading in the 
shortest fashion, should be taught absolutely separately from 
every other, and therefore for each there should be a separate 
method. . . . One has a strong memory, and it is easier for him 
to memorize syllables than to understand the vowellessness of 
a consonant; another takes things in calmly and will under- 
stand that most rational sound method; a third has a feeling, 
an instinct, and he, while reading whole words, will understand 
the law of the composition of words. 

The best teacher will be he who has ready at hand an ex- 
planation of what has puzzled the pupil. These explanations 
give the teacher a knowledge of the greatest number of methods, 
the capacity to think up new methods, and, above all, not 
the following of one method, but the conviction that all methods 
are one-sided, and that the best method would be that which 
should answer all possible difficulties encountered by the pupil, 
that is, not a method, but an art and a talent. — [On Methods 
of Teaching Reading.] 

In view of his denial of historic progress, Tolstoy's 
definition of education is at first sight somewhat sur- 


prising. "Education," he tells us, "is an activity of man 
having as its foundation the need of equality and the 
unchanging law of the forward movement of education."* 
With his explanation of this definition, our perplexity 
vanishes. One man teaches another Latin just as a 
mother teaches her child to speak, in order to place 
his pupil on a level with himself, so that they may under- 
stand each other. Man feels a need of equality, and the 
one who knows less strives to approximate his knowl- 
edge to that of his more learned companions; hence 
there is a forward movement in the accumulation of 
useful knowledge. When equality between teacher and 
pupil is attained the activity of education ceases. "The 
school should have but one aim, the transfer of in- 
formation, of knowledge, not attempting to pass over 
into the moral field of convictions, belief, and char- 
acter; it should have but one aim, science, and not the 
results of its influence on human personality."! In 
other words, the teacher must not attempt to force 
upon a child his own corrupt character; that would 
be an act of violence of the grossest sort. The child 
has less information than the teacher, but in character 
he is superior to him: 

A healthy child is born into the world, fully satisfying those 
demands of absolute harmony in regard to truth, beauty, and 
good that we bear within us; it is near to inanimate beings — to 
the plant, to the animal, to nature, which constantly represents 
for us that truth, beauty, and good which we seek and desire. 

* Progress and the Definition of Education , f Education and Culture. 


In all ages and with all men the cliild has been regarded as a 
model of innocence, of sinlessness, of goodness, truth, and 
beauty. "Man is born perfect," is the great word spoken by 
Rousseau, and this word, like a rock, will remain firm and 
sure. When born, man represents the prototype of harmony, 
truth, beauty, and goodness. But every hour in life, each 
moment of time, increases the extent, the quantity, and the 
time of those relations, which, at the time of his birth, were in 
perfect harmony, and each step and each hour threatens the 
destruction of that harmony, and each following step and 
each following hour threatens a new destruction, and gives no 
hope of the restoration of the shattered harmony. — [Who is to 
Teach the Art of Writing?] 

To this true aim of education, that of introducing 
equality among men, Tolstoy adds, there are joined 
false aims, such as the desire on the part of the powerful 
to make other people useful to them; thus the govern- 
ment establishes universities in order to train capable 
public servants. This university education detaches 
the sons of honest and industrious laborers or farmers 
from the environment in which they have lived and 
makes them despise their families and their former 
associates : 

In the university you will rarely see any man with a fresh 
and healthy face, and you will not see a single man who would 
look with respect, or even calmly, though with disrespect, 
at the environment from which he has emerged, and in which 
he will have to live; he looks at it with contempt, disgust, 
and supercilious pity. Thus he looks at the men of his own 
environment, at his kindred, thus he looks even at the activity 


which should be his in accordance with his social position. — 
[Education and Culture.] 

This argument is at first sight the same as that used 
by some English aristocratic opponents of attempts to 
popularize higher education; in reality it is quite 
the reverse. The English aristocrat laments any ten- 
dency to give to parvenus the education that has been 
the privilege of his own class; he will preserve intact 
his superior caste. Tolstoy, on the contrary, finds the 
university product, whether aristocrats or parvenus, 
inferior to the great body of the Russian people. The 
university can train only— 

. . . either officials, who are convenient only for the govern- 
ment, or professor-officials, or literary-man-officials, who are 
convenient for society, or men who are aimlessly torn away 
from their former environment, whose youth has been cor- 
rupted and who find no place for themselves in life — so- 
called men of university education, cultivated, that is, irritated, 
sickly liberals. The university is our first and foremost educa- 
tional institution. It is the first to arrogate to itself the right 
of education and the first to prove, by the results that it 
attains, the illegality and impossibility of education. Only 
from the social point of view may the fruits of the university 
be justified. The university prepares not such men as are 
needed by humanity, but such as are needed by a corrupt 
society. — [Education and Culture.] 

With his contempt for "liberal" innovations and for 
all "liberal" thought, with his dislike of government 


activity and his desire for natural, human relations in 
education, it is no wonder that Tolstoy pours forth the 
vials of his wrath upon the project of a new plan for 
organizing popular schools brought forward by the 
government in 1862,* and founded in large measure on 
the example of the United States. Under the old 
despotism of Nicholas I the government had itself 
done next to nothing for popular education, and had 
prohibited the opening of any private schools whatever. 
That law was so bad that it was not enforced; it was 
in fact forgotten, and private persons taught the peasants 
in whatever way they pleased, or in some cases the 
peasants themselves opened little schools of their own. 
The new project attacked a huge problem, which the 
authorities did not in the least understand, with grossly 
inadequate means; and, though it legalized the opening 
of private schools, it laid very considerable restrictions 
upon them. The defects and inadequacy of the new 
project Tolstoy shows with convincing clearness. The 
example of the United States is no just precedent for 
Russia; to begin with, taxes in one country are voted 
by the people, in the other they are imposed from above 
by the government. The danger is that this new law, 
with its dull, mechanical prescriptions, will not only fail 
to produce any good, but will be enforced and so will 
crush independent effort on the part of the popu- 

* Or perhaps in the year previous; Tolstoy's article was published 
in Ydsnaya Polydna for March, 1862. 


Tolstoy's own plan, which he set forth a dozen years 
later in his article On Popular Education, (1874), would 
be to have the district authorities use their money 
primarily for the encouragement of private effort. They 
should spend money on the teacher, not on the location; 
a real school consists of teacher and pupil, not of a 
stone building with an iron roof. They should not dis- 
dain even cheap teachers, who will work for from two 
to five rubles a month in smoky huts, or in transient 
lodgings with the peasants. But the authorities should 
themselves maintain a public school which should serve 
as an example of right methods, and which would thus 
raise the standard of private instruction. In other 
words, Tolstoy would introduce a free organization of 
educational institutions not entirely different from that 
which prevails, in differing fashions, in England and 
America. His recommendations show an intimate 
knowledge of conditions and much practical common 
sense. Despite all his Utopian idealism and despite his 
cantankerous refusal to cooperate in the work of other 
men, Tolstoy had, as he proved at intervals in the 
management of his own estates, and later by his con- 
duct of famine relief, a considerable share of practical 
executive ability. 

Such are Tolstoy's general principles, which he strove 
to realize in practice in his own school at Yasnaya 
Polyana. Of his delight in his own creation he speaks 
in a letter to his cousin, the Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, 
written in July, 1861: 


I have a poetic, charming occupation, from which I cannot 
tear myself away, my school. When I break loose from the 
office and from the peasants, who pursue me from every part 
of the house, I go to the school, but since it is being repaired, 
the classes are held nearby in the orchard, under the apple- 
trees, where you can walk only by bending down, it is so 
overgrown. And there sits the teacher, with the pupils around 
him, chewing grass and popping linden and maple leaves. The 
teacher teaches in the way that I advise him, but nevertheless 
rather poorly, as even the children feel. They like me better. 
And we begin a chat which lasts for three or four hours, and no- 
body is bored. I cannot tell you what sort of children they are; 
one must see them. Among the children of our own lovely 
class in society I have seen nothing like them. Just consider 
the fact that in the course of two years, with a complete absence 
of discipline, not one boy or girl has been punished. Never 
any laziness, any rudeness, any stupid jokes or indecent 
words. The schoolhouse is now almost finished. Three large 
rooms, one pink, and two blue, are occupied by the school. 
Besides that, the museum is in the main room. On the shelves 
and around the walls are arranged stones, butterflies, skele- 
tons, herbs, flowers, physical apparatus and so forth. On 
Sundays the museum is opened to all, and a German from 
Jena, who has turned out a splendid young man, performs 
experiments. Once a week there is a botany class, and we 
all go to the woods for flowers, herbs, and mushrooms. There 
are four singing classes a week. Of drawing there are six (the 
German again) and they go finely. Surveying succeeds so 
well that the peasants are already asking the boys to help 
them. There are three teachers in all besides myself. And then 
the priest comes twice a week. Yet you continue to think that 
I am an infidel. And then I teach the priest how to teach 


them. This is how we teach: on St. Peter's day we tell the 
story of Peter and Paul and the whole service. Later on, when 
Feofan has died in the village, we explain what extreme unction 
is and so on. And thus, without apparent connection, we go 
through all the sacraments, the liturgy, and all the holidays of 
the New Testament and the Old. The classes are arranged from 
eight to twelve and from three to six, but they always con- 
tinue till two, because it is impossible to drive the children 
out of school — they want more. In the evening often more 
than half of them stay to spend the night in the orchard, in a 
hut. At dinner and supper and after supper we, the teachers, 
consult together. On Saturdays we read our notes to one 
another and prepare for the coming week. — [Correspondence 
with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, pp. 154, 155.] 

Of the general organization of his school, and of his 
experiments in the teaching of different subjects, Tolstoy 
writes at some length in his article on Ydsnaya Polydna 
School in November and December [1861]. His aim 
was that the children should themselves desire to ac- 
quire knowledge, through seeing the value of it, and that, 
the teacher should merely assist them in their quest. 
This concept of freedom is that of the highest univer- 
sity work, which Tolstoy applied to the primary school. 
There was no hint of compulsion in any way: 

No one brings anything with him, either books or copy- 
books. No lessons are given to be studied at home. Not 
to speak of bringing anything in his hands, the pupil has nothing 
to bring even in his head. He is not obliged to remember today 
any lesson, anything at all that he did yesterday. He is not 


tortured by thoughts of the coming lesson. He brings only 
himself, his receptive nature, and the confidence that at school 
today it will be as jolly as it was yesterday. He does not 
think of class until the class has begun. No one is ever scolded 
for tardiness and no one is ever tardy — except perhaps the 
older boys, whose fathers now and then keep them at home for 
some work. And then that big boy, out of breath, comes 
running to school. . . . 

The teacher comes into the room, and on the floor the 
screaming children are lying, shouting, "The heap is small!" 
or, "The boys are squashing me!" or, "Quit, stop pulling my 
hair!" and so on. " Peter Mikhaylovich!" cries a voice from the 
bottom of the heap to the teacher as he comes in, "tell them 
to stop it." "Good morning, Peter Mikhdylovich!" shout the 
others, continuing their scuffle. The teacher takes the books 
and distributes them to those who have gone to the book- 
case with him; those who are lying on the top of the heap on 
the floor also demand books. The heap becomes gradually 
smaller. As soon as the majority have taken books, all the 
rest run to the case and shout, "Me too, me too! Give me 
yesterday's book — and me the Koltsovish," and so on. If 
there still remain two or three excited by the struggle, who 
continue to tumble about on the floor, then those sitting 
with books shout to them: "What are you fooling there 
for? We can't hear anything. Quit!" The excited boys sub- 
mit and, out of breath, take their books; and only for a short 
time, while sitting at their books, swing their legs from un- 
allayed excitement. The spirit of war flies away, and the 
spirit of reading reigns in the room. With the same enthusiasm 
with which he was pulling Mitka's hair he now reads the 
Koltsovish book (the name by which Koltsov's works pass in 
our school), with teeth almost clenched and with glittering 


eyes, seeing nothing around him except his book. To tear 
him away from reading would be as hard now as it would 
have been to stop his fighting a short time before. . . . 

According to the program there are four lessons before 
dinner, but sometimes there are only three or two, and some- 
times on quite different subjects ., from those set down. The 
teacher begins on arithmetic and passes to geometry; he 
begins with sacred history and ends with grammar. Sometimes 
teacher and pupils grow so enthusiastic that instead of one 
hour the class lasts for three. Often the pupils shout of their 
own accord, "No, more, more!" and cry out against those 
who are bored. "If you're sick of it, go off with the little 
kids," they say contemptuously. . . . 

The school has evolved freely from principles introduced into 
it by the teacher and the pupils. In spite of all the preponder- 
ating influence of the teacher, the pupil has always had the 
right not to go to school, and even, if he goes to school, not to 
listen to the teacher. The teacher has had the right not to 
admit a pupil, and has had the possibility of acting with all 
the strength of his influence on the majority of the pupils, 
on the society that always arises among schoolboys. — [Ydsnaya 
Polydna School: General Sketch.] 

Gradually, by the free action of the boys themselves, 
this external disorder subsides, and a free order is es- 
tablished far finer than any that could have been de- 
vised by the teacher. Despite a somewhat wavering 
practice, Tolstoy is convinced that even to stop fighting 
among the pupils is a mistake: 

How many times have I seen, when children were fighting 
and the teacher rushed to separate them, how the parted 


enemies would eye each other askance, and, even in the pres- 
ence of a stern teacher, would not restrain themselves from 
subsequently kicking each other harder than ever! How 
many times do I see every day how some Kiryushka, with 
clenched teeth, flies upon Taraska, pulls his hair, throws him 
on the ground, and at the risk of his life seems eager to maim 
his enemy — and before a ininute has passed Taraska is already 
laughing from under Kiryushka, so much easier is it for them 
to settle scores alone; and before five minutes are over they 
are becoming friends again and going to take their seats side 
by side. ... I am convinced that the school ought not 
to meddle in that part of education which belongs only to the 
family, that the school ought not and has no right to reward 
and punish, that the best police and administration of the 
school consists in leaving full freedom to the pupils to study 
and to get along together as they please. 

That Tolstoy was the merriest of playmates with the 
boys in his school and that he was sincerely beloved 
by them we know from the testimony of Vasily Morozov, 
one of his pupils. Morozov soon left the village for 
the city, fell into the depths of poverty, became a 
tramp, and in his despair determined to drown him- 

And I went to the stream. The day was hot. By the 
stream there were many people. They were bathing. It was 
as noisy as in a public bath. I sat down on the bank, took off 
my boots — and then I suddenly remembered how I and all the 
pupils of the Yasnaya Polyana school, with Lev Nikolayevich 
at our head, used to bathe in the pond and how we would 
show him our skill; we would jump from the bank one after 


another, swim, dive, and chase one another. And Lev Niko- 
layevich would lie on the bank with his head propped on his 
hand, and would laugh with all his might, especially when some 
one wanted to show off and did not succeed. 

"Enough, enough, come out!" Lev Nikolayevich would say 
with a laugh. "Dress yourselves. Murzik there is getting 
chilled through." 

And he would watch us shivering boys, whose arms were 
shaking so that we had hard work to get them into the sleeves 
of our shirts. Then Lev Nikolayevich would make us run 
races around the pond in couples. More laughter. At last 
L. N. would shout: "Boys, let's see who can get to school 
first; hurrah!" And he himself would start out at full speed. 
We would run after him with shouts and screams, jostling one 
another, stumbling and falling. But L. N. was always the 
winner. . . . 

I was a pupil of the school in Y^snaya Polyana; I loved 
the school, and I loved Lev Nikolayevich also. I remember that 
we had the most sincere, childlike attachment for him and 
that Lev Nikolayevich had the most sincere attachment to 
us. It was a village commune, but not one depending on 
force — rather a commune united by the tie of love. We had 
no jealousy of one another in the sense that Lev Nikolayevich 
granted something special to one more than to another. Such 
were the feelings that I took away from the school at Yasnaya 
Polyana. Like the brand of Jerusalem, it has remained on 
my soul and to this day I bear it there. — [In On Tolstoy (Mos- 
cow, 1909), pp. 128, 129, 132.] 

In the teaching of different subjects Tolstoy was not 
uniformly successful. Grammar, for example, he could 
never make interesting to his pupils, and characteristi- 


cally — and with much reason — came to the following 

Personally we [I] are not yet able fully to renounce the 
tradition that grammar, in the sense of the laws of language, 
is indispensable for the correct exposition of thoughts: it 
even seems to us that boys studying feel a need of grammar, 
that in them unconsciously lie the laws of grammar. But we 
are convinced that the grammar that we know is not at all 
that needed by the pupils, and that in this custom of teaching 
grammar there is some great historic misunderstanding. — 
[Ydsnaya Polydna School: Writing, Grammar and Penmanship.] 

Tolstoy is seen at his best as a teacher of composition, 
a subject in which even his detractors must admit his 
competence. He tells touchingly how he suggested the 
idea of a story, The Life of a Soldier's Wife, to two 
bright boys, about eleven years old, and cooperated 
with them in the development of it. (Whimsically 
enough, he reprinted in his complete works his account 
of how this story was written, and his commentary on it, 
in his essay, Who is to Teach the Art of Writing; We to 
the Peasant Children, or the Peasant Children to lis?, 
but did not reprint the story itself, which seems never 
to have been translated into English.) The tale is a 
simple one, the life of a little lad who lives with his 
mother and grandmother while his drunken father is in 
the army; the boy describes the birth and death of a 
baby brother and the marriage of an older sister. Finally 
the father returns, reformed, and "after that we lived x 
well." Tolstoy did no more than keep his pupils' minds 


intent on the incidents of the tale; their insight into the 
situations proved better than his own. Any attention 
to external details, such as handwriting or spelling, was 
fatal to interest. The little peasants' work, he claimed, 
contained beauties such as could scarcely be found 
elsewhere in Russian literature. The story is indeed 
excellent of its own sort; perfect handling of detail has 
done its work. 

One of the two boy artists was Vasily Morozov, 
from whose reminiscences of Tolstoy quotations have 
already been given. He later became a cabman in 
Tula, but occasionally he did bits of writing. A story by 
him is printed in The Messenger of Europe, one of the 
foremost literary magazines of Russia, for September, 
1908. Tolstoy's preface to the tale deserves quota- 
tion, as an expression of his unvarying literary ideals : 

This story was written by my most beloved pupil of my first 
school of the year 1862, at that time the dear twelve-year-old 
Vaska Morozov, now the honored sixty-year-old Vasily 
Stepanovich Morozov. 

As then there were especially precious to me in that dear 
boy his sensitiveness to all that was good, his affectionateness, 
and, above all, his unfailing frankness and truthfulness, so 
now I am particularly pleased with the same traits in this 
simple story, which is so sharply distinguished by its truth- 
fulness from the majority of literary productions. 

You feel that here nothing has been thought up or invented, 
but that what is told is just what took place; that a fragment 
of life has been seized, and of that peculiarly Russian life with 
its sad, gloomy, and precious, spiritual traits. 


I think that I have not been bribed by my attachment to 
the author and that other readers will be as fond of the story 
as I myself. 

In the teaching of literature Tolstoy was similarly 
an expert, but one of a peculiar sort. His pupils were 
interested in Afanasyev's folk tales, and in all similar 
material that had been derived straight from the lips of 
the Russian common people, and they loved the stories 
of the Old Testament, but any attempts to guide them 
up to the reading of Pushkin and Gogol proved futile. 
Words could not be explained to the children; they 
must be gradually apprehended by being met again and 
again. The stuff written by literary men and intended for 
popular consumption was nearly always a flat failure. 
Tolstoy felt that a whole course of graded reading was 
needed for use in the peasant schools, and he set to 
work to prepare it in his series of Readers. On these he 
labored with far greater ardor than upon Anna Karenin. 
In April, 1872, he wrote to his cousin, the Countess 
Alexandra Tolstoy: 

I am getting on well, except that old age begins to make 
itself felt; I am often ill and am hastening to work. There is 
more and more work ahead of me. If they had told me twenty 
years ago to think up work for twenty-three years, I should 
have exerted all the strength of my mind and yet should not 
have thought up enough work for three years. But now if you 
told me that I should live in ten persons for a hundred years, 
all of us would not be able to finish all that is indispensable. 
My Primer is now being printed at one end, and at the other is 


still being written and added to. This Primer alone could 
give me work for a hundred years. For it I need a knowledge 
of Greek, Indian, and Arabic literature; I need all the natural 
sciences; and the work on the style is terrible. All must be 
beautiful, short, simple, and above all, clear. Some French- 
man has said: "Clearness is the courtesy of men who wish to 
teach, when they address the public." — And what is worst of 
all, people will rail at me for this toil, and you first of all. 
In your circle you will be sure to find my style vulgaire. And 
I cannot neglect even the opinion of your circle, because I am 
writing for everybody. — [Correspondence with the Countess 
A. A. Tolstoy, p. 233.] 

Tolstoy's labors deserved the immense success that 
they achieved. His series of five little books contains 
fables remodeled from JEsop and from Indian sources, 
stories from the Arabic, bits of natural science, rework- 
ings of Russian ballads, and, most interesting of all 
for us, original stories for children. From the Bible he 
gives nothing; he tells us that he found it useless and 
even injurious to tamper with the language of that 
book. His own stories are of various sorts; tales drawn 
from the people themselves such as God Sees the Truth; 
incidents of child life; and bits of his own experience 
such as his adventure with the bear on the hunt, and 
stories of the bull-dog Bulka who was his companion 
in the Caucasus. Unfortunately not all these stories 
were included in Tolstoy's collected works, and conse- 
quently some of the best have never been translated 
into English. No work by Tolstoy is more perfect, 


for example, than his story of how little Philip went to 
school for the first time. In it he has caught the child's 
point of view and writes without condescension, that 
most vicious of pedagogical vices; he has the secret of 
simplicity, even as the man who wrote the story of 
Joseph and his Brethren. The tale demands quota- 

LITTLE PHILIP (a true story) 

Once upon a time there was a boy whose name was Philip. 
One day all the children were starting off for school. Philip 
got his hat and wanted to go too. But his mother said to 
him: "Where are you going, Philip!" "To school." "You're 
too small; you can't go." And his mother kept him at home. 
The children went off to school. Early in the morning his 
father had driven off to the woods; then his mother went 
away to her daily work. In the hut there were left only Philip 
and his grandmother, who was lying on the oven. Philip 
grew lonesome all by himself; his grandmother went to sleep, 
and he began to look for his hat. He did not find his own; 
but he took an old one of his father's and started for school. 

The school was outside the village near the church. When 
Philip was walking through his own neighborhood the 
dogs did not touch him — they knew him. But when he had 
passed beyond it, Fido jumped out and barked, and after 
Fido a big dog, Towser. Little Philip began to run, and the 
dogs ran after him. Philip began to cry, stumbled and fell 
down. A peasant came out, drove away the dogs, and said: 
"Where are you running to all alone, you little monkey?" 
Philip said nothing at all, picked up his skirts and started to 
run at full speed. He ran to the school. There was nobody on 


the porch, but in the school he could hear the sound of chil- 
dren's voices. Philip was scared: "What if the teacher drives 
me off?" And he began to think what he should do. If he 
went back, the dog would bite him again; if he went into 
the school, he was afraid of the teacher. A peasant woman 
came past the school with a pail and said: "They're all 
studying — what are you standing there for?" So Philip went 
into the school. In the entry he took off his hat and opened 
the door. The school was all full of children. Each was shout- 
ing his own lesson, and the teacher, with a red necktie on, 
was walking up and down the center. 

"What do you want?" he shouted at little Philip. Philip 
clutched at his hat and said nothing. "Who are you?" Philip 
was silent. "Are you dumb?" Philip was so scared that he 
couldn't speak. "Well, then, go home, if you won't talk." 
Philip would have been glad to say something, but his throat 
was dry from terror. He looked at the teacher and began to 
cry. Then the teacher felt sorry for him. He patted him on 
the head and asked the children who tins boy was. 

"That's little Philip, Kostyushka's brother; he's been 
begging to come to school for a long time, but his mother 
wouldn't let him, and now he's sneaked off to school." 

"Well, sit down on the bench by your brother, and I'll ask 
your mother to let you come to school." 

The teacher began to show Philip the letters, but Philip 
knew them already and could read a little bit. 

"Now then, spell your name." 

Little Philip said: "F-i, fi; el-ip, lip." 

Everybody laughed. 

"Fine boy," said the teacher. "Who taught you to read?" 

Philip plucked up his courage and said: "Kostyushka. 
I'm smart ; I understood it all right off. I'm just awful bright !" 


The teacher laughed and said: "But do you know your 
prayers?" Philip said, "Yes, I do," and he began to repeat the 
prayer to the Virgin, but he said every word wrong. The 
teacher stopped him and said: "Wait a while before you 
boast, and just study." 

After that Philip began to go to school with the children. — 
[A New Primer.] 

Tolstoy's attempts to teach art to his peasant children 
led him to startling conclusions. He reasoned that 
the enjoyment of art was a natural human need, to 
which the children had a perfect right. But he found 
that neither the children nor their parents could be 
roused to an appreciation of the Venus of Milo, or of 
Beethoven, or of Pushkin's lyrics. He came to the 
characteristically Tolstoyan conclusion that the masses 
were not below Pushkin and Beethoven, but above 

I became convinced that a lyric poem, such for example as 
"I remember the charming moment," that productions of 
music such as Beethoven's last symphony, are not so uncon- 
ditionally and universally good as the song of Vanka the 
Steward, and the refrain, Down Mother Volga; that Pushkin 
and Beethoven please us not because there is any absolute 
beauty in them, but because we are just as corrupted as 
Pushkin and Beethoven; because Pushkin and Beethoven 
alike flatter our perverted irritability and our weakness. 
How commonly do we hear the threadbare paradox, that for 
the understanding of the beautiful a certain preparation is 
needed! Who said that, and how is it proved? That is only 


an evasion, a loop-hole from a hopeless situation into which 
we have been brought by the falsity of the tendency of our 
art, by its being the exclusive property of one class. Why 
are the beauty of the sun, the beauty of the human face, the 
beauty of the sounds of a folk-song, the beauty of an act of 
love and self-sacrifice, accessible to all, and why do they re- 
quire no preparation? . . . 

I assume that the need of the enjoyment of art and the 
service of art lie in each human personality, no matter to 
what race and environment it may belong, and that this 
need has its rights and should be satisfied. Accepting this 
principle as an axiom, I say that if inconveniences and diffi- 
culties arise in the enjoyment of art by every one and the 
production of it for every one, then the cause of these in- 
conveniences lies not in the manner of its transmission, not in 
the spread of art among many or in its concentration among a 
few, but in the character and tendency of the art, about which 
we should have doubts, both in order not to inflict what is 
false on the young generation, and in order to give the oppor- 
tunity to this young generation to work out something new both 
in form and in content. — [Ydsnaya Poly ana School : the Arts.] 

True to this conception, Tolstoy concludes his ac- 
count of Yasnaya Polyana school with the words: 

The aim of the teaching of music to the people should consist 
in imparting to them the knowledge of the general laws of 
music that we possess, but by no means in the transfer to 
them of the false taste that is developed in us. — [Ydsnaya 
Polyana School : Singing.] 

This theory as to the art of our time is essentially 
the same that Tolstoy expounded twenty-six years later 


in What is Art? (1898), though he there condemns 
most modern art as essentially bad, while here he at first 
terms it only less universally good than popular art, and 
then insists that its lack of universality comes from 
its appeal to "our perverted irritability and our weak- 
ness." His arguments in his later book are, however, 
entirely different, being based on his new religious 
conception of life; they will be considered in due time. 
One may here emphasize the fact that while his support- 
ing arguments change, his temperamental preference 
for the popular standard remains the same. This 
preference is based on the doctrine of Rousseau, that 
civilization necessarily causes degeneration in the 
individual man; and it must stand or fall with that 
doctrine. If we reject Rousseau's teaching in favor 
of the sounder view that civilization contributes to 
the growth of certain valuable human capacities, though 
it may often stunt others, then we have to consider the 
question whether a given work of art, a lyric by Pushkin 
or a symphony by Beethoven, appeals to our finer or 
our baser emotions. The quality of the emotion aroused 
by a work of art is always a true test of its merit, if 
the test be applied in a broad and sympathetic manner; 
the universality of the appeal of a work of art can be 
used as a test only in connection with other criteria.* 
Tolstoy's whole theory of education, no less than his 
criticism of modern art, is based on a point of view 
identical with that of Rousseau. His originality con- 
* Compare pp. 340-343, below. 


sists mainly in applying Rousseau's ideas to Russian 
conditions; in carrying out in actual experience with 
a school of peasant children ideas that Rousseau had 
enunciated with very little regard to working condi- 
tions. (The influence of Rousseau on Tolstoy extends 
even to details; in teaching singing he went so far as to 
use Rousseau's system of musical notation.) More 
than this, Tolstoy's ideas are the same as those of a 
whole series of educational reformers since Rousseau, 
through Froebel down to Madame Montessori and 
others. Professor Dewey's Schools of Tomorrow is an 
enthusiastic account of how, under American conditions, 
different teachers are endeavoring to apply principles 
that are Rousseau's, and therefore Tolstoy's. The same 
leaven is working in many different minds. 

Tolstoy differs from his fellow reformers only in the 
unsparing consistency with which he attempts — not 
always with success — to carry out the principle of 
individualism in education. His doctrine that the school 
should convey only information, and not seek to in- 
fluence individual character, seems to be his own. 
This principle sprang from the fact that he had not yet 
worked out a clearly formulated religious and moral 
philosophy. As he tells us in his Confession (chapter 3) 
he was trying to teach without knowing what to teach. 
To the doctrine that he professed he could not be true 
in practice. As we have seen from his own description 
of his work, his own personality inevitably influenced 
that of the children with whom he came in contact. 


Later, when he had formed for himself a clear moral and 
religious ideal, Tolstoy straightway demanded that all 
education should be religious, and laid it down as a 
principle that the example of a teacher is the most 
powerful means of education. "I should give two rules 
for education," he wrote: "not only to live well one- 
self, but to work over oneself, constantly perfecting 
oneself, and to conceal nothing about one's own life from 
one's children."* He had now discovered a religious 
sanction for education such as existed in the middle 
ages, a certainty of truth as to ideals of life that justified 
a man in communicating those ideals to others. But 
his new religious ideal had as its cardinal principle the 
doctrine of the non-resistance to evil by violence, that 
is, an abhorrence of all external compulsion; the com- 
munication must come through the infectiousness of 
true religion embodied in life; force is abhorrent both 
to religion and to education. 

One queries whether Tolstoy was right in his un- 
measured repugnance to the use of compulsion in edu- 
cation. The answer is ready at once: if organized so- 
ciety be accepted as right, then compulsion has a place 
as a last resort in education as in other human relations. 
The duty of every educator is to let the individuality of 
his pupils develop with the least possible measure of 
constraint, yet he must use his best efforts to see that 
these pupils develop into useful members of society. 
Merely to acquire a legible handwriting involves the 
* Thoughts on Education and Instruction, collected by Chertkov, §2. 


subjection of one's personal taste to the convenience of 
his fellow men. Force in education, as in government, 
is a last resort; voluntary cooperation is the ideal to 
be sought. No other follower of Rousseau inveighs 
against discipline as does Tolstoy. Rousseau himself 
does not reject discipline, but in his theoretic treatise, 
Emile, he simply neglects the problem. Tolstoy him- 
self, when he grants the teacher the right not to admit 
a pupil, recognizes a sort of negative discipline. Despite 
all the beneficent influence on education of Rousseau's 
romantic individualism, Rousseau is not the greatest 
of educational writers. That place of honor belongs 
rather to the moderate and compromising Comenius, 
who, starting from a system of Christian anarchy some- 
what like that into which Tolstoy developed, emerged 
from it into the recognition of broad social service in 
the world as it is at present organized. 

But can organized society of today itself be justified 
as an improvement on a state of barbarism? This 
assumption Tolstoy emphatically denies, as we have al- 
ready seen (pages 93-95), thus showing himself a true dis- 
ciple of Rousseau. This fundamental quarrel between 
Tolstoy and the Liberal worshippers of progress de- 
pends on their different standards of value. The Liberals 
admire the material advances of humanity and can 
point to real achievements. Within historic times the 
population of the earth has enormously increased, 
waste places have been settled, communication has 
become more swift and safe, disease has been checked, 


and the average human life has been lengthened. All 
this can be demonstrated. But there is no proof that 
the individual man is any happier today than he was 
two thousand years and more ago, or that his brain 
capacity has increased. A Hottentot's little girl enjoys 
her toys as much as a millionaire's daughter; the 
domestication of the horse probably required as much 
brain capacity as the invention of the locomotive. 
An American boy who uses the telephone at five and at 
fourteen constructs an amateur wireless telegraphic 
apparatus is not necessarily an inventive genius. Human 
society is more complicated than it used to be, but there 
is no proof that the individual man has advanced. 
Whether we prefer his present state to his former one, 
whether we accept the commonplaces of the news- 
papers or the "paradoxes" of Rousseau and Tolstoy 
depends more on our temperament than on our open- 
ness to reasoned conviction. Nor can men be blamed 
for resisting the attempts of a better organized so- 
ciety to assimilate them; the present struggle against 
German Kultur has in it a certain Tolstoyan element. 
Individual liberty is valuable in itself, even at the 
cost of some material welfare. 

In revolting from the Liberal faith in western progress 
and culture, and in recognizing the right of the Russian 
common folk to educate itself in whatever way it might 
see fit, independently of western models, Tolstoy ap- 
proximated to the Slavophiles, with their faith in Rus- 
sian nationality as something distinct and apart from 


that of the west. Similarly in his view of the emancipa- 
tion of the serfs as due to the emperor alone he joined 
them in their idea of autocracy. He may be said to 
have accepted the Slavophile ideal of a free people, tak- 
ing no part in government, and ruled over by a benevolent 
autocrat. At a later time, when he returned to the 
bosom of the Russian church, he may be said to have 
temporarily accepted their faith in orthodoxy. Yet one 
would make a great mistake in classing Tolstoy at any 
time in his life as a member of the Slavophile party. 
He lacked the historic interest that was at the root of 
all their teachings. His autocracy was the instinctive 
loyalty to the tsar of a soldier, an aristocrat, and a 
landowner of long descent, joined with a dislike for 
Liberal talkers whom he regarded as insincere; his 
nationality was a revolt from Liberal theories, joined 
with a most genuine affection for the peasants on his 
estate; his orthodoxy was a conviction of the impotence 
of Liberal agnosticism to bring peace to the soul such 
as was conferred on his peasant friends by the Orthodox 
Church. The Slavophiles, like their Liberal opponents, 
reached their mental attitude by a process of abstract 
reasoning; Tolstoy was brought to his own opinions 
partly by the study of Rousseau, but mainly by his in- 
dividual personal experience. All three items of the 
Slavophile creed he later cast aside with loathing. 

To sum up, individualism, expressed in a contempt 
for traditional and accepted authority and in an ardent 
love of free personal development, is at the basis of all 


Tolstoy's educational theories. The same attitude 
will later be shown in his critique of the state and of 
the whole existing social order. His subsequent doctrine 
of non-resistance to evil by violence, which he made the 
corner-stone of his ethical system, is not the cause of 
his anarchistic theories but the prop and support of 
them. (The parallel to the development of his theory 
of art is exact and striking.) But his individualism is 
far removed from the egotistic self-cultivation of a 
Goethe or the rebellious self-assertion of an Ibsen; it 
is an individualism of method, not of aim, and is com- 
bined with an ideal of service, of self-sacrifice, and of 
recognition of the claims of other men. Even at this 
early period, Tolstoy's individuality is most strongly 
marked in his reluctance to hamper the development 
of other individualities. And an aversion to the use of 
force, even for promoting aims the righteousness of 
which would seem self-evident, is already the main- 
spring of his instinctive philosophy. 


LIFE: 1862-78 

[0 Tolstoy's married life one may apply his 
own words at the opening of Anna Karenin: 
"All happy families are like one another; 
each unhappy family is unhappy in its own 
way." And to this one may add that happy families, 
like happy nations, have no history. Tolstoy's life in 
the years following his marriage was prosperous and 
uneventful; he was absorbed in his wife and children, in 
literary work, and in the care of his estate. 

Tolstoy and his wife were admirably suited to each 
other, and their devotion, though not their mutual 
sympathy, remained constant until almost the time of 
Tolstoy's death. The Countess was an excellent house- 
wife and mother, simple and practical, patient and 
forbearing, an admirer of her husband's genius and an 
aid in his literary work. Perhaps Kitty in Anna Karenin 
is her nearest portrait in her husband's writings. To 
his wife, Tolstoy was absolutely faithful; the loose living 
of his earlier years he now laid aside forever. The pair 
had thirteen children, of whom the first was born in 

July, 1863, and the last in 1888. In the education of the 


LIFE: 1862-78 129 

older children Tolstoy himself took a leading part, 
carrying out so far as he could the principles of Rousseau's 
Emile, and the Countess did her best to act in accord 
with his views. 

In a letter to his cousin the Countess Alexandra 
Tolstoy, written in the autumn of 1863, Tolstoy describes 
his joy in his new life, his fresh enthusiasm for literary 
work, and his consequent loss of interest in the school 
that had so absorbed him the year before: 

You will recognize my handwriting and my signature; but 
who I am now and what I am you will surely ask yourself. 
I am a husband and a father, fully content with my situation 
and so wonted to it that in order to feel my own happiness, I 
must think of what I should be otherwise. I do not keep pon- 
dering over my own situation (grubeln has been abandoned) 
and I only feel my feelings; I do not think about my family 
relations. This condition gives me an awful lot of mental 
scope. I have never felt my mental and even all my moral 
forces so free and so capable of work. And I have work on 
hand. This work is a novel of the time from 1810 to 1820 
[War and Peace] which has been completely occupying me 
since autumn began. Whether it shows weakness of char- 
acter or strength — I sometimes think both — I must confess 
that my view of life, of the peasants, and of society is now 
completely different from what it was the last time that we 
saw each other. I can be sorry for them, but it is hard for 
me to understand how I could love them so deeply. How- 
ever, I am glad that I passed through that school; that latest 
mistress of mine did much towards forming me. I love chil- 
dren and pedagogy, but it is hard for me to understand myself 


as I was a year ago. The children come to me in the evenings 
and bring with them to my mind recollections of the teacher 
who was in me and who will never return. I anl now a writer 
with all the strength of my soul, and I write and meditate on 
my work as I never before wrote or meditated. I am a happy 
and serene husband and father, having no secrets from any- 
body and no desire except that all should continue as it has 
hitherto. — [Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, 
pp. 191, 192.] 

A letter of January, 1865, tells the same story of 
complete happiness and contentment at home: 

Do you remember, I once wrote you that people were mis- 
taken in expecting any happiness in which there should be 
neither toil, nor deception, nor grief, but where all should go 
on evenly and happily? I was mistaken then; there is such 
happiness and I have been living in it for more than two 
years, and every year it becomes deeper and more uni- 
form. And the materials of which this happiness is built are 
the most unbeautiful: children who (excuse me) befoul their 
clothes and yell; a wife who is suckling one, leading the other 
about, and at every moment reproaching me for not seeing 
that they are both on the brink of the grave; and paper and 
ink, by means of when I am describing events and the feelings 
of men that never existed. — [Ibid., p. 198.] 

The first literary work that Tolstoy undertook after 
his marriage was Linen-Measurer (Holstomer), the 
story of a horse; with this, as he writes in a letter to 
Fet, he was occupied in the spring of 1863, but for 
some reason or other the tale was not published until 

LIFE: 1862-78 ■ 131 

1888. The story is as thoroughly didactic, though 
not in so obvious a fashion, as Black Beauty, The 
wholesome, normal, natural life of the horse is con- 
trasted with the dissolute and vain existence of its 
master and his associates. The concluding pages, 
which tell of the deaths of the animal and the man, 
handle in a more drastic fashion the theme that Tolstoy 
had already treated in Three Deaths. 

Two comedies that he wrote in this same year, his 
first experiments in the dramatic form, have unfor- 
tunately never been published. 

Tolstoy's chief occupation during the early years of 
his married life was the writing of War and Peace, 
on which, as is plain from the letter quoted above, he 
began work in the autumn of 1863. He at first projected 
a novel based on the aristocratic conspiracy of December, 
1825, against the Russian government — the conspiracy 
of the Decembrists, as it is called; then he grew in- 
terested in the earlier life of his characters, and com- 
posed a huge novel centering on the struggle between 
Russia and Napoleon. He prepared for it by a study 
of the archives of his own family and of other his- 
torical materials, and during the composition of it he 
developed the peculiar philosophy of history that he 
embodied in the book. His habits of work are well 
described by his wife's brother, Step&n Behrs: 

The whole life of Lev Nikolayevich is industrious in the 
full sense of the word. . . . He wrote mainly in the winter, 


all day long, and sometimes until late at night. . . . Each 
morning he sat down at his table and worked. If he did not 
write, he prepared himself for writing by the study of sources 
and materials. Sometimes before his work and after dinner 
he liked to read English novels. Even in summer, when the 
children were having a vacation and his wife begged him to 
rest and not to work, he did not always yield to her request. 
In the most conscientious toiler I have never seen such se- 
verity towards idleness as in Lev Nikolayevich towards him- 
self. — [Reminiscences, ch. 3.] 

The Countess Tolstoy acted as her husband's sec- 
retary in his work; and, according to her brother, she 
copied seven times the entire text of War and Peace. 
This feat seems incredible in connection with her other 
work. Of her labors on Anna Karenin her son Count 
Ilya Tolstoy gives a description that will presumably 
apply equally well to the earlier novel: 

My mother's work seemed much harder than my father's, 
because we actually saw her at it, and she worked much 
longer hours than he did. . . . Leaning over the manu- 
script and trying to decipher my father's scrawl with her 
short-sighted eyes, she used to spend whole evenings at work, 
and often sat up late at night after everybody else had gone 
to bed. Sometimes, when anything was written quite illeg- 
ibly, she would go to my father's study and ask him what it 
meant. But this was very rare, because my mother did not 
like to disturb him. When it happened, my father would 
take the manuscript in his hand, ask with some annoyance: 
"What on earth is the difficulty?" and begin to read it out 
loud. When he came to the difficult place he would mumble 

LIFE: 1862-78 133 

and hesitate, and sometimes had the greatest difficulty in 
making out, or rather in guessing, what he had written. He 
had a very bad handwriting and a terrible habit of inserting 
whole sentences between the lines, or in the corners of the 
page, or sometimes right across it. My mother often dis- 
covered gross grammatical errors, and pointed them out to 
my father and corrected them. 

When Anna Karenin began to come out, . . . long galley- 
proofs were posted to my father and he looked them through 
and corrected them. At first, the margins would be marked 
with the ordinary typographical signs, letters omitted, marks 
of punctuation, and so on; then individual words would be 
changed, and then whole sentences; erasures and additions 
began; till, in the end, the proof-sheet was reduced to a 
mass of patches, perfectly black in places, and it was quite 
impossible to send it back as it stood, because no one but my 
mother could make head or tail of the tangle of conventional 
signs, transpositions, and erasures. 

My mother would sit up all night copying the whole thing 
out afresh. 

In the morning there lay the pages on her table, neatly 
piled together, covered all over with her fine clear hand- 
writing, and everything was ready so that when Levochka 
came down he could send the proof-sheets off by post. 

My father would carry them off to his study to have "just 
one last look," and by the evening it was just as bad again; 
the whole thing had been rewritten and messed up once more. 

"Sony a, my dear, I am very sorry, but I've spoilt all your 
work again; I promise I won't do it any more," he would say, 
showing her the passages he had inked over with a guilty air. 
" We'll send them off tomorrow without fail." But this tomor- 
row was often put off day by day for weeks or months together. 


"There's just one bit I want to look through again," my 
father would say, but he would get carried away and rewrite 
the whole thing afresh. There were even occasions when, 
after posting the proofs, my father remembered some par- 
ticular words next day and corrected them by telegraph. 

Several times, in consequence of these rewritings, the 
printing of the novel in the Russky Vestnik was interrupted, 
and sometimes it did not come out for months together. — 
[Reminiscences of Tolstoy, pp. 137-139.] 

War and Peace is an enormous work, in fifteen parts 
and an epilogue. The first two parts, under the title 
The Year 1805, were published, like Family Happiness, 
Polikushka, and The Cossacks, in the Russian Messenger 
(Russky Vestnik), edited by Katkov, who, beginning 
life as a moderate Liberal, had become the most prom- 
inent Nationalist and reactionary editor in Russia. 
To Katkov's political views Tolstoy, in a letter to his 
cousin, expresses the most profound indifference. "He 
and I have as much in common," he writes, "as you 
and your water-carrier. I do not sympathize with their 
prohibiting the Poles to speak Polish, but neither am I 
angry at them for it. . . . Butchers kill the cattle 
that we eat, but I am not obliged either to take them 
to task or to sympathize with them."* This is merely 
another instance of his general indifference to political 
questions. From Katkov he received 300 rubles (about 
$225) a printed sheet; that is, six times the "best 
authors' " price that Nekrasov had promised him for 
* Correspondence with the Countess A, A. Tolstoy, p. 210. 

LIFE: 1862-78 135 

his early work. His letters to his wife contain references 
to rather vigorous haggling over terms. In general, 
Tolstoy at this time of his life was eager to make money, 
both by his literary work and by the management of 
his estate. To quote from Behrs : "The English saying, 
'An aristocrat without money is a commoner,' as he 
said himself, made him anxious to increase his property 
for the sake of his children."* War and Peace was not 
completed until 1869; the later parts, probably in con- 
sequence of some quarrel with Katkov, were not printed 
in the Russian Messenger, but were issued as separate 

"In his farming," to quote once more from Behrs, 
"Tolstoy resorted to broad, energetic measures. He 
raised fine blooded cattle in great numbers, laid out 
apple orchards, planted a large timber patch, and so 
on. From intellectual curiosity he was for a time en- 
thusiastic over bee-keeping. He himself managed only 
his estate at Yasnaya Poly ana; his other properties he 
gave over entirely to overseers."! Of his attitude 
towards his own farm we can judge sufficiently well from 
the portra t of Levin in Anna Karenin. 

But one incident need be mentioned from these 
happy years during which Tolstoy was at work on his 
greatest novel. In the summer of 1866 he defended on 
a capital charge a private soldier who had insulted and 
struck an officer. This was one of the rare occasions on 
which he prevailed upon himself to speak in public. 
* Reminiscences, ch. 4, f Ibid, 


His advocacy was unsuccessful and the man was shot. 
At a later date Tolstoy bitterly regretted having lowered 
himself by taking part in court proceedings. In 1908 he 
wrote to Biryukov: 

This incident had an immense and beneficent influence on 
me. Through this incident I for the first time came to feel: 
first, that every act of violence implies for its performance 
murder or the threat of it, and that therefore every act of 
violence is inevitably connected with murder; second, that 
a state organization that is unthinkable without murders 
is incompatible with Christianity; and third, that what we 
call science is only the same sort of false justification of the 
evil that exists as the church teaching was in former times. 
Now this is clear to me; then it was only a dim consciousness 
of the falsity amid which my life was passing. — [Biryuk6v: 
H, 104.1 

Of home life in the Tolstoy household Count Ilya 
Tolstoy, the second son, has given vivid pictures in his 
Reminiscences. With his boys Tolstoy was a merry play- 
mate, amusing them with comic verses, taking them with 
him on his favorite sport of shooting woodcock, playing 
the bear at a Christmas festival, and inventing for their 
benefit an excellent new game of "Numidian Cavalry": 

We would all be sitting .... rather flat and quiet 
after the departure of some dull visitors. Up would jump my 
father from his chair, lifting one hand in the air, and run at 
full speed round the table at a hopping gallop. We all flew 
after him, hopping and waving our hands like [sic] he did. 
We would run round the room several times and sit down again 

LIFE: 1862-78 137 

panting in our chairs and in quite a different frame of mind, 
gay and lively. The Numidian Cavalry had an excellent effect 
many and many a time. After that exercise all sorts of 
quarrels and wrongs were forgotten, and tears dried with 
marvelous rapidity. — [Reminiscences of Tolstoy, p. 98.] 

The children were well brought up in rules of courtesy. 
"When they needed something of a servant, they 
were forbidden to give orders. They were obliged to 
make a request, adding without fail the word please. 
Their parents and the rest of the family set them an 
example in this."* On the other hand the aristocratic 
tradition was strong in the home: 

We were educated as regular "gentlefolk," proud of our 
social position and holding aloof from all the outer world. 
Everything that was not us was below us, and therefore 
unworthy of imitation. When our neighbor Alexander Nikola- 
yevich Bibikov and his son Nikolenka were asked to our 
Christmas tree, we used to take note of everything that 
Nikolenka did that wasn't "the thing," and afterwards used 
"Nikolenka Bibikov" as a term of abuse among ourselves, 
considering that there was nobody in the world so stupid and 
contemptible as he was. And we regarded Nikolenka in this light 
because we could see that papa regarded his father in the same 
way. — [Count Hya Tolstoy, Reminiscences of Tolstoy, p. 308.] 

The son speaks with admiration of his father's skill 
as an educator: 

My father hardly ever made us do anything; but it always 
somehow came about that of our own initiative we did exactly 
* Behrs, Reminiscences, ch. 3. 


what lie wanted us to. My mother often scolded us and 
punished us; but when my father wanted to make us do some- 
thing he merely looked us hard in the eyes, and we under- 
stood; his look was far more effective than any command. . . . 
My father's great power as an educator lay in this, that 
it was as impossible to conceal anything from him as from 
one's own conscience. He knew everything, and to deceive 
him was just like deceiving oneself; it was nearly impossible 
and quite useless. — [Ibid., pp. 313, 314.] 

Despite his deep feelings, Tolstoy never indulged in 
outward tenderness towards his children: 

There was one distinguishing and at first sight peculiar 
trait in my father's character — due perhaps to the fact that 
he grew up without a mother, or perhaps implanted in him 
by Nature — and that was that all exhibitions of tenderness 
were entirely foreign to him. I say "tenderness" in con- 
tradistinction to "feeling." Feeling he had, and in a very 
high degree. . . . 

During all his lifetime I never received any mark of tender- 
ness from him whatever. He was not fond of kissing children 
and when he did so in saying good-morning or good-night he 
did it merely as a duty. It is easy therefore to understand 
that he did not provoke any display of tenderness towards 
himself and that nearness and dearness with him was never 
accompanied by any outward manifestations. — [Ibid., pp. 377, 

Among the inmates of the Tolstoy household was 
Tolstoy's old "aunt" Tatyana Ergolsky, the best loved 
of all his elder relatives. It was she who furnished the 

LIFE: 18G2-78 139 

model of Sonya in War and Peace, She died in 1874. Of 
her he wrote : 

Auntie Tatyana Alexandrovna had the greatest influence 
on my life. She influenced me, in the first place, by teaching 
me, while I was still a child, the spiritual delight of love. She 
did not teach me this by words, but by her whole being she 
infected me with love. I saw and felt how good it was for her 
to love, and I came to understand the happiness of love. That 
is the first point. The second point is that she taught me the 
charm of a leisurely, solitary life. — [Biryukov: I, 73.] 

After the completion of War and P^ace Tolstoy for some 
time undertook no further creative work, but plunged 
into a period of reading and study. His first enthusiasm 
was Schopenhauer. In September, 1869, he wrote to Fet : 

Do you know what this summer has meant for me? An 
unceasing enthusiasm for Schopenhauer and a succession of 
spiritual delights such as I have never before experienced. I 
have procured all his works and have been reading them and 
still am doing so — I have also read through Kant. And 
surely not a single student in his [university] course ever studied 
so much and learned so much as I this summer. I do not 
know whether I shall ever change my opinion, but now I 
am convinced that Schopenhauer is the greatest genius of 
humankind .... [His works] are a whole world in an un- 
believably clear and beautiful reflection. I have begun to 
translate him— [Biryukov: H, 78, 79.] 

Evidently Tolstoy's pessimistic conception of the outer 
world, of which he speaks ten years later in his Con- 
fession, was already distinctly formed. 


In the next year, 1870, prompted by a wish to aid 
in the education of his eldest son, Tolstoy suddenly took 
up the study of Greek, into which he threw himself with 
his usual ardor. Greek appealed to him from the side 
of his delight in the beauty of the world, and from 
his passion for clear, concrete expression. His love of 
Homer has already been noted (p. 68). Now he writes to 

I have read through Xenophon and now am reading him & 
livre ouvert. For Homer I need a lexicon and a little effort. 
I am impatiently waiting for a chance to show some one 
this trick. But how happy I am that God has sent this folly 
upon me. In the first place I am enjoying myself; in the 
second I am convinced that of all true beauty and simple 
beauty that has been produced by human speech I have hither- 
to known nothing, like all men — they know but they under- 
stand not; in the third place I am sure that I am not writing 
verbose twaddle and shall never do so any more. — [Biryukov : II, 

Perhaps the study of Greek was of some influence on 
Tolstoy's style, leading him more than ever to cultivate 
simplicity and directness. But on the whole it was 
important only as furnishing him a tool for his later 
work on the Gospels. The ascetic, renunciatory side of 
his nature was already gaining the upper hand, and his 
native Hellenic joy in life was becoming less important 
as an influence in his thought. 

Owing to excessive study, Tolstoy's health weakened, 
and in June, 1871, his wife persuaded him to go once 

LIFE: 1862-78 141 

more to the province of Samara for a kumys cure. 
His companion on the trip was her brother, Stepan 
Behrs, who has given an entertaining account of it in his 
Reminiscences. Like a true aristocrat, Tolstoy never 
traveled second class; on the steamer to Samara he 
rode in the third class and he came back in the first: 

Lev Nikolayevich has a remarkable capacity for getting on 
intimate terms with passengers of all classes. Even when he 
came across sullen and reserved strangers, he never hesitated 
to approach them, and, after a few attempts, he successfully 
engaged them in conversation. His talent as a psychologist 
and his heart showed him the right methods and he knew 
how to attract strangers by his sympathy. In the course of 
two days on the steamer he became acquainted with the 
whole deck, not excepting even the good-natured sailors, 
with whom we spent our nights in the bow of the steamer. — 
[Behrs: Reminiscences, ch. 5.] 

On the steppes Tolstoy lived for six weeks in a felt 
tent among the Bashkir nomads, drinking the fermented 
mare's milk and eating only meat. He had brought 
his Greek books with him, and he wrote back to Fet: 
"I am reading Herodotus, who describes in detail and 
with great fidelity these same galactophagous Scythians 
among whom I am living."* Ever quick of sympathy, 
Tolstoy made warm friends even among these semi- 
savages. Here too he met an Orthodox hermit and a 
leader of the heretical sect of the Molokane, and listened 
with attention to their religious discourses. This is the 
* Biryukov: II, 178. 


first token of Tolstoy's interest in Russian sectarianism. 
The Greek lexicon was brought home filled with aromatic 
steppe flowers. 

On this journey Tolstoy bought a large estate in 
the province of Samara and in the following summers 
he repeatedly visited it. In 1873 his family accompanied 
him. At this time the peasants of that region were 
suffering from a severe famine, the very existence of 
which had been kept secret from Russian society at large. 
Prompted by his wife, Tolstoy made a careful personal 
investigation of conditions and sent to Katkov's paper, 
the Moscow Gazette, a detailed account of them, with 
an appeal for aid. He also wrote to the Countess 
Alexandra Tolstoy in St. Petersburg, begging her to 
interest in the cause "the strong and the good people 
of this world, who, fortunately, are one and the same." 
"Your Magdalens are very pitiable, I know," he tells 
her; "but pity for them, as for all the sufferings of the 
soul, is more mental — of the heart if you prefer; but 
simple, good people, healthy physically and morally, 
when they suffer from privation, one pities with his 
whole being— one is ashamed and pained to be a man 
when he watches their sufferings. So I deliver into 
your hands this important matter, which is near to 
my heart."* These appeals were marvelously suc- 
cessful. In the course of 1873 and 1874 contributions 
to the value of about 2,000,000 rubles were received in 
aid of the population of the government of Samara; 
* Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 247. 

LIFE: 1862-78 US 

the empress was one of the first to make a contribution. 
In 1881, traditions of Tolstoy's personal help were still 
alive among the peasants of his district; they remem- 
bered how he personally visited the most afflicted 
houses, aiding with grain and with money for the pur- 
chase of horses.* This episode in Tolstoy's life is 
a foretaste of his more famous activity during the 
famine of 1891-93. 

At this period of his life, though his membership in 
the Orthodox Church was a mere formality, Tolstoy 
was by no means an opponent of religious ceremonies. 
In War and Peace (part ix, ch. 18) he describes with 
sympathy the profound impression made on Natasha 
by the solemn church service. With this one may 
compare his account of his own feelings given in a letter 
to Fet written early in 1872: 

What do I understand by religious awe? Just this. Re- 
cently I visited my brother — and his child had died and 
was being buried. The priests had come and there was a 
pink coffin — everything in due form. My brother and I 
involuntarily expressed to each other a feeling of almost dis- 
gust for all this ceremony. But then I thought: What could 
my brother have done in order to remove finally from the 
house the decomposing body of the child? How could he finish 
the matter decently? There was no better way (at least I 
could think of none) than with a requiem, incense, and so 
forth. How should one himself grow weak and die? Pray 
under his breath .... and nothing more? That is not 

♦Biryukov: II, 188. 


right. One wishes fully to express the significance and the 
importance, the impressiveness and the religious awfulness 
of this greatest event in the life of every man. And I could 
also think up nothing more decent for all ages, for all stages 
of development, than the religious setting. For me at least 
these Slavic words are redolent of exactly the same meta- 
physical ecstasy that you experience when you think of nirvana. 
Religion is marvelous in that for so many ages, to so many 
millions of men, it has rendered this service, the greatest 
service that in this matter anything human can render. With 
such a problem how can religion be logical? Yet there is 
something in it. — [Biryukov: II, 235.] 

In September, 1872, an incident occurred that, like 
the search of his premises by the police ten years before, 
proves conclusively that Tolstoy's temperamental dis- 
like for liberalism might have disappeared with advanc- 
ing experience, had not first his social position and his 
wealth, and later his literary fame, preserved him from 
any but the most trifling annoyance by the government 
authorities. A letter to the Countess Alexandra Tolstoy 
tells of both the event and the feelings evoked by it : 

Dear Alexandrine: You are one of those people who with 
their whole being say to their friends: "I will share with thee 
thy sorrows and thou thy joys with me." * So I, who always 
tell you of my own happiness, now seek your sympathy in my 

Unexpectedly and without warning an event has descended 
upon me that has changed my whole life. 

A young bull at Y^snaya Polyana has killed a herdsman 
* The quotation is in English in the original. 

LIFE: 1862-78 145 

and I am held for examination, under arrest — I cannot leave 
the house (all this by the caprice of a boy called the public 
prosecutor), and in a few days I must face charges and de- 
fend myself in court — before whom? It is terrible to think of, 
terrible to remember all the abominations that have been 
inflicted on me, are being inflicted, and will still be inflicted. 

With a gray beard, with six children, with the consciousness 
of a useful and industrious life, with a firm confidence that I 
cannot be guilty, with a contempt for the new courts that I 
cannot help having, so far as I have seen them; with the one 
desire, that I should be left in peace as I leave everybody 
else in peace, it is unbearable to live in Russia, with the fear 
that any boy who does not like my face may make me sit on a 
bench in front of a court, and later in prison — but I will cease 
showing my anger. You will read all this story in the press. 
I shall die of anger if I do not vent it; and then let them 
bring me to trial for the additional offense of telling the truth. 
I will tell you what I intend to do and what I beg of you. 

If I do not die of anger and vexation in the prison where 
they probably will put me (I am convinced that they hate 
me), I have decided to move to England forever or until such 
time as the liberty and dignity of every man shall be made 
secure in our country. My wife looks forward to this with 
pleasure (she likes English ways) and it will be a good thing for 
the children; I shall have sufficient means (I shall get to- 
gether some 200,000 if I sell out everything). I myself, how- 
ever much I detest European life, hope that there I shall re- 
cover from my anger and shall be able to pass quietly the few 
years of my life that still remain to me, working at what I 
still need to write. Our plan is to settle at first near London, 
and then to select a beautiful and healthful village near the 
sea, where there are good schools, and to buy a house and land. 


For our life in England to be pleasant we need to be acquainted 
with good aristocratic families. In this you can aid me and I 
beg you to do so. Please do it for me. If you have not such 
acquaintances yourself you will surely be able to accomplish 
it through your friends. Two or three letters that would 
open to us the doors of a good English circle. This is in- 
dispensable for the children, who will have to grow up there. 
When we leave I cannot yet tell, because they can torture me 
here as much as they choose. You simply cannot imagine 
my situation. They say that the laws give securite. In our 
country it is quite the contrary. I have arranged my life with 
the greatest securite. I am contented with little, seek nothing, 
wish nothing but peace; I am loved and respected by the 
peasantry; even robbers let me alone; and I have complete 
securite, except from the laws. The hardest thing of all for 
me is this anger of mine. I so love to love, and now I cannot 
help being angry. I repeat Our Father and the Thirty-Seventh 
Psalm, and for a moment they calm me, especially Our Father; 
but later I boil up again and can do nothing, think of nothing — I 
have abandoned work, as being a stupid desire to take ven- 
geance when there is nobody on whom to take vengeance. 
Not until now, when I have begun to get ready for my de- 
parture and am firmly decided on it, have I become calmer, 
and I hope soon again to find myself. Good-bye; I kiss your 
hand. — [Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, 
pp. 235, 236.] 

This letter is wonderfully characteristic of Tolstoy's 
nature. In it one sees his deep-rooted repugnance to 
any constraint visited on him, and in particular to com- 
pulsion from the new liberal courts, which, one may 
remark, were modeled on French and English institu- 

LIFE: 1862-78 147 

tions. All his life Tolstoy had chafed but little under the 
degrading Russian censorship; now he was anxious 
to flee to England, where, one may likewise remark, 
he might easily have been exposed to similar attacks on 
his "liberty." He asserts his individuality, and yet 
(as he confesses with shame in a later letter) he has the 
covert hope that his kinswoman will spread the news of 
the event in her own circle of high government officials. 
He runs to religion for help, but finds it no sure resource 
against his boiling temper. "In order to accept as a 
Christian all that is sent by God," he writes a few days 
later, "you must first feel entirely yourself, but while 
ants are crawling over you and stinging you it is im- 
possible to think of anything except deliverance. To 
accept as a trial sent from on high an itch that is pro- 
duced in your whole being by insects that swarm over 
you is impossible."* The affair ended by the court 
authorities confessing that they erred in arresting 
Tolstoy, and by their finally admitting that even his 
overseer was not criminally liable. 

Tolstoy's irritation was increased by his having 
undertaken a new piece of literary work, which ab- 
sorbed all his attention. "And when you are attacked 
by that folly, as Pushkin finely called it, you become 
peculiarly sensitive to the rudeness of life. Imagine 
a man in complete quiet and darkness, who is listening 
to a faint rustling and who is scanning faint rays of 
light in the gloom, under whose nose they suddenly 
* Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, pp. 239, 240. 


touch off stinking Bengal lights and play a march on 
trumpets out of tune. It is extremely torturing."* 
On his return from his kumys cure of 1871 he had thrown 
himself heart and soul into the preparation of his Primer 9 
of which an account has already been given, and had 
finished it. He then suddenly became interested in the 
study of the epoch of Peter the Great (1682-1725), and 
particularly of the part played in it by his own an- 
cestors. He buried himself in the study of historical 
sources, both public and private. In December, 1872, 
his wife wrote to her brother: "He does not know 
himself what will come of his work, but it seems to me 
that he will again write a poem in prose similar to 
War and Peace"\ After making several attempts at 
composition, Tolstoy was forced to abandon his pro- 
ject, finding himself unable to re-create in his imagination 
that distant period, through lack of knowledge of the 
details of Russian life in the early eighteenth century. 
He had formed an idea of the personality of Peter 
in sharp contrast to the prevailing view, and the whole 
epoch had become unattractive to him. The personality 
and work of Peter, he maintained, were not only in no 
way great, but all his qualities were bad. His so-called 
reforms did not serve the good of the country, but 
only his personal advantage. In consequence of the 
ill will that the boyars (nobles) bore him owing to his 
innovations, he founded the city of St. Petersburg, in 

* Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 241. 
f Behrs: Reminiscences, ch. 4. 

LIFE: 1862-78 149 

order to withdraw from them and to be freer in his 
immoral life, among the foreigners and low-born ad- 
venturers with whom he surrounded himself. The 
class of boyars was then very influential and was there- 
fore dangerous to him. His innovations and reforms 
were taken from Saxony, where the laws were the most 
cruel of the time, and corruption of manners the worst, 
a fact especially pleasing to Peter. This explains his 
friendship for the Elector of Saxony, one of the most 
immoral of the crowned heads of the time.* In this 
whole conception one may possibly find some influence 
of Slavophile thought. 

Then, in March, 1873, without conscious preparation, 
Tolstoy began the composition of Anna Karenin. 
Biryukov's account of the incident demands quotation: 

In the year 1873, slowly becoming weaker, the beloved 
aunt of Lev Nikolayevich, Tatyana Ergolsky, was approach- 
ing her end. She was lying in her room on a couch, and the 
oldest son of Lev Nikolayevich, the ten-year-old Sergey, was 
reading to her Pushkin's tales. Sofya Andreyevna was sitting 
near by with her work. The old lady dozed off, and the reading 
stopped. The volume of Pushkin was lying on the table, 
open at the beginning of the story, A Fragment. Just then 
Lev Nikolayevich came into the room. Seeing the book, he 
took it and read the beginning of A Fragment: "Guests had 
gathered at a country house." 

"That is the right way to begin/' said Lev Nikolayevich. 
" Pushkin is our teacher. This at once takes the reader into 
the interest of the action itself. Another would have begun to 
* Paraphrased from Behrs: Reminiscences, ch. 4. 

150 . TOLSTOY 

describe the guests and the rooms, but Pushkin gets down to 
business at once." 

Some one of those present jestingly proposed to Lev Niko- 
layevich to avail himself of this beginning and to write a 
novel. Lev Nikolayevich withdrew to his room and im- 
mediately sketched the opening of Anna Karenin, which in 
the first variant began thus: "All was in confusion in the 
Oblonskys' house/ —[I: 204, 205.] 

As the kernel of his plot Tolstoy took an incident 
that had happened in his own vicinity about a year 
before. A woman named Anna, who had been living 
with his neighbor Bibikov, became jealous of the govern- 
ess in the household, and in despair threw herself beneath 
the wheels of a railroad train. On this new novel Tolstoy 
worked fitfully and with small enthusiasm; he was 
hindered by family griefs, by his labors on educational 
problems, and probably by his ever-increasing preoccu- 
pation with religious questions. In 1875, writing to Fet, 
he professes complete indifference to the success of his 
work; in the next year he writes to the same friend: 
"I am now taking hold of the tiresome and vulgar 
Anna Karenin with but one desire: to get it out of the 
way and be free for other occupations."* In April, 
1876, he wrote to the critic Strakhov of his antipathy 
for work on the last proof-sheets of the novel : " Every- 
thing in them is wretched, and all must be done over, 
all that is printed; all must be canceled and cast aside; 
I must swear off and say: * Excuse me; I won't do so 
* Letters, collected by Sergey enko (Moscow, 1910); I, 116. 

LIFE: 1862-78 151 

any more, but will try to write something new which 
shall not be so disjointed and helter-skelter!'"* The 
first installments of Anna Karenin were published 
in Katkov's Russian Messenger in 1875; the last were 
not ready until 1877, at a time when all Russia was 
seething with patriotic, Slavophile ardor for the war with 
Turkey, to secure the liberation of Bulgaria. Katkov 
was a leader in the war party, while Tolstoy, in the con- 
cluding chapters of his book, throws cold water on all 
military and patriotic enthusiasm. A rupture occurred 
between the two men; Katkov refused to print the last 
chapters as they stood, while Tolstoy declined to alter 
them. Katkov was obliged to print a mere statement 
as to the conclusion of the novel, while Tolstoy issued 
his final chapters as a separate pamphlet. 

Before finishing Anna Karenin Tolstoy had felt new 
interest in The Decembrists, his project of years before, 
and he now made fresh studies of materials for the 
book. But he was unable to obtain permission to use 
the government archives that he needed for his work; 
and, as he grew more intimately acquainted with the 
Decembrist conspiracy, he became convinced that the 
source of it was to be found in the influence of the 
French Revolution on the Russian aristocracy. A 
movement imported into Russia from the west had no 
charm for Tolstoy. Besides this, religious doubts and 
questionings were now pressing upon him. He def- 
initely laid aside his novel, but in 1884 he contributed 
* Biryukov: II, 213. 


to a miscellany a few fragments of it that he had written, 
partly before War and Peace and partly after Anna 

During this period of Tolstoy's life his two most 
important literary friends were the poet Fet and the 
critic Strakhov. The former won fame by lyric poems 
expressing the "esthetic epicureanism that developed 
on the soil of the sybaritic existence of the Russian 
landed proprietors."* He later made admirable trans- 
lations from the Latin poets. Undoubtedly inspired 
by Tolstoy, he translated Schopenhauer's most im- 
portant works. Like Tolstoy, he was opposed to 
the Liberal movement and was politically an indifferent, 
holding that private citizens should not meddle in 
government affairs; towards the peasants he is said to 
have been harsh and oppressive. He must have had 
attractive personal traits, since Tolstoy's letters to him 
show intimate affection. 

Nikolay Strakhov, a critic of the Slavophile school, 
was dear to Tolstoy on both intellectual and per- 
sonal grounds. With him Tolstoy could discuss re- 
ligious and philosophical problems, and Strakhov's 
opinions on his works were almost the only criticism of 
them that he valued. Strakhov was his intermediary in 
the printing of his Primer. Tolstoy's attachment to Strak- 
hov was apparently never interrupted, while his intimacy 
with Fet came to an end in his later years, after his 
religious conversion. 

* Skabichevsky: History of Modern Russian Literature, 

LIFE: 1862-78 153 

In 1876 Tolstoy became acquainted with the com- 
poser Chaykovsky [Tchaykovsky, Tschaikowsky], who 
had long been a devoted admirer of his works. Chay- 
kovsky arranged a musical evening in his honor, in- 
viting Rubinstein to play on the occasion, and was 
beyond measure pleased and touched when Tolstoy was 
moved to tears by the performance of his music. But 
personally the two men could not become intimate. Ten 
years later Chaykovsky wrote in his diary : 

When I became acquainted with Tolstoy I was seized 
with fear and a feeling of awkwardness in his presence. It 
seemed to me that this greatest knower of the heart would 
penetrate with a single glance into all the little secrets of my 
soul. From him, it seemed to me, it would be impossible to 
conceal all the rubbish lying at the bottom of my soul and to 
show only the fair side of it. 

If he is kind (and such he must be, of course), I thought, 
then delicately and tenderly, like a physician who is studying 
a wound and who knows all the sore places, he will avoid 
touching and irritating them, but thereby he will make me 
feel that nothing is hidden from him. If he is not specially 
merciful, he will thrust his finger right into the center of the 
pain. I was terribly afraid of either choice. But there 
was no sign of either. A profound knower of the heart in his 
writings, he proved in his converse with men to be of a simple, 
sound, frank nature, showing very little of that universal 
knowledge of which I was afraid; he did not avoid touching 
sore places, but yet he caused no intentional pain. It was 
evident that he did not at all regard me as a subject for his 
observations, but simply wished to chat about music, in which 


he was interested at the time. Among other things he liked to 
run down Beethoven, and openly expressed doubt of his genius. 
This is a trait not at all characteristic of great men. To bring 
down to one's own lack of comprehension a genius who is 
recognized by every one is a peculiarity of men of limited 
intellect.— [Biryukov: II, 252, 253.] 

This sketch of Tolstoy's life during his greatest creative 
period may fittingly close with an account of his recon- 
ciliation with Turgenev. The two men had ceased their 
enmity, but had not become friends again; they ad- 
mired each other at long range. In 1862, immediately 
after their quarrel, Turgenev had written to Fet: "You 
may write him or tell him (if you see him) that I (with- 
out any phrases or plays on words) from a distance 
like him very much, that I respect him and follow his 
fate with sympathy, but that near at hand everything 
takes a different turn."* Turgenev revered Tolstoy's 
power of picturing external life, but disliked his philos- 
ophizing and his incessant brooding over questions of 
conduct. Of War and Peace he wrote in a letter to 
Polonsky (1868) : "Tolstoy's novel is a marvelous thing; 
but the weakest part of it . . .is the historical side 
and the psychology. His history is a mere bit of trickery, 
a flicking of the eyes with fine trifles; his psychology is a 
capriciously monotonous preoccupation with one and 
the same feelings. All that has to do with manners, 
the descriptive and military part, is of the first order, 
and in it we have no such master as Tolstoy." He made 
*Biryuk6v: I, 407. 

LIFE: 1862-78 155 

efforts, apparently unsuccessful, to procure the publica- 
tion of French translations of some of Tolstoy's earlier 
works. Tolstoy, in his turn, admired Turgenev's limpid, 
clear style, but despised his lack of moral vigor and 
moral questioning, the qualities most dear to himself. 
In 1867 he wrote to Fet a caustic verdict on Turgenev's 
new novel Smoke: 

As to Smoke I think that the strength of poetry lies in love; 
the tendency of that strength depends on character. With- 
out strength of love there is no poetry; falsely directed strength, 
an unpleasant, weak character in a poet is repugnant. In 
Smoke there is scarcely any love of anything and scarcely any 
poetry. There is love only of light and playful adultery, and 
therefore the poetry of that story is repugnant. I am afraid 
even to express this opinion, because I cannot regard soberly 
the author, whose personality I do not like, but it seems that 
my impression is common to all. One more man played out. 
I wish and hope that my turn may never come. — [Biryuk6v: 

n, 77.] 

About 1876 he speaks of his former friend with some- 
what less lack of sympathy: 

I have not been reading Turgenev, but I am sincerely sorry, 
judging from everything that I have heard, that that spring of 
pure and limpid water has been fouled with such rubbish. If he 
would simply recollect in detail one of his own days and 
describe it, every one would be delighted. However common- 
place it may sound, yet in all relations of life, and especially 
in art, one needs merely a single negative quality, not to lie. 
In life falsehood is horrid, but it does not destroy life by its 


horridness; under it the truth of life still remains because 
somebody always longs for something, is pained or made joyful 
by something; but in art falsehood destroys the whole con- 
nection between phenomena; all scatters like dust. — [Ibid. 9 

n, 2i6.] 

In 1878, Tolstoy, whose thoughts were turning more 
and more on religious questions, and who did not wish 
to continue to have an enemy, wrote to Turgenev, 
begging him to forgive him if he had wronged him in 
any way. Turgenev answered in the same cordial 
spirit and in the autumn of that year made two visits at 
Tolstoy's home. The reconciliation was outwardly 
complete, but no spiritual sympathy between the two 
men was possible. "He is still the same," Tolstoy 
wrote to Fet, "and we know the degree of intimacy 
that is possible between us."* On November 10, in a let- 
ter to Strakhov, he referred to Turgenev with whimsical 

Why are you angry with Turgenev? He plays at life and 
one has to play with him. And his play is innocent and not 
unpleasant, if taken in small doses. But you too must not be 
angry with him. — [Letter printed in The Contemporary World, 
July, 1913.] 

Soon after this Tolstoy received a letter from Tur- 
genev, who expressed a hope that the "intellectual 
illness," of which Tolstoy had complained, had now 
passed away. The tone of the epistle made a disagree- 
* Biryukov: II, 279. 

LIFE: 1862-78 157 

able impression on Tolstoy, who wrote petulantly to 

Yesterday I had a letter from Turgenev. And, do you 
know, I have decided that it's better to keep away from him 
and from all chance of trouble. Somehow he stirs me up 
unpleasantly. — [Biryuk6v: II, 279.] 

On his side, Turgenev was better pleased with the 
renewal of friendship. He wrote to Fet: 

It made me very happy to meet Tolstoy again and I passed 
three pleasant days at his house; all his family are very 
attractive and his wife is charming. He himself has become 
very gentle and has grown up. His name is beginning to be- 
come known in Europe. We Russians have been aware for a 
long time that he has no rival.— [Ibid., II, 280.] 

He himself tried to aid Tolstoy's fame by distributing 
copies of the French translation of War and Peace to 
such distinguished critics as Taine and About. 

AH in all, Tolstoy evidently regarded Turgenev as a 
frivolous babbler, while Turgenev looked on Tolstoy as 
a wrong-headed prig. Both were mistaken. 


"war and peace" and "anna karenin" 

lOLSTOY'S fame as a novelist depends pri- 
r P II marily on War and Peace and Anna Karenin. 
His earlier works, though they alone would 
have given him an assured place among the 
great writers of Russia, may be regarded as in a sense 
but preliminary studies for these novels. And his 
religious, ethical, and critical writings, remarkable as 
they are in themselves, are more widely read owing to 
the fact that they came from the pen of the author of 
War and Peace and Anna Karenin. 

War and Peace was the fruit of the happiest and most 
buoyant period of Tolstoy's life. His activities, hitherto 
scattered over a variety of aims, were given a definite 
direction by family ties; conscious of his ripened powers, 
he applied himself to creative work with all the vigor of 
his impetuous nature. From a conventional point of 
view the masterpiece that he produced lacks unity and 
proportion. A very competent critic has described it 
as not a novel at all, but rather a vast encyclopedic 
work like the Anatomy of Melancholy, containing ma- 
terial enough for a dozen novels, jumbled together, 



helter-skelter. Tolstoy himself was fully aware of the 
nature of his own work. "War and Peace" he told 
Schuyler, "is not a novel, still less a poem, still less an 
historical chronicle. It is not presumption on my part 
if I keep clear of customary forms. The history of 
Russian literature from Pushkin down presents many 
similar examples. From the Dead Soids of Gogol to 
the Dead House* of Dostoyevsky there is not a single 
artistic prose work of more than average merit which 
keeps entirely to the usual form of a novel or a poem."f 
The book traces the history during the years 1805-12 of 
five families, all belonging to the higher circles of the 
Russian aristocracy, and of some minor characters, and 
it concludes with an epilogue laid in the year 1820. 
In its two thousand pages we find "God's plenty," 
and we live with the creations of Tolstoy's art as with 
the characters of no other novelist; their daily existence 
has for us the same charm as that of dearly loved friends. 
In 1871, two years after the completion of his great 
work, Tolstoy wrote to his wife, mournfully commenting 
on his own loss of health : " I have no intellectual, and 
above all no poetic delights. I look upon everything as 
though I were dead, the very thing for which I have 
disliked many people. But now I myself see only 
what exists; I understand, I form ideas, but I do not 
see through with love as I used to do."{ That phrase, 

* House of the Dead; compare p. 340. 

f Eugene Schuyler, "Count Leo Tolstoy Twenty Years Ago," in 
Scribner's Magazine: V, 548. Tolstoy's generalization is naturally not 
scientifically accurate. % Letters to Wife, p. 82. 


"to see through with love," aptly characterizes the un- 
failing charm of War and Peace; the superb excellence 
of single characters, single incidents, single descriptions 
makes us impatient of captious comments on the de- 
parture of the book from ordinary canons of construc- 
tion. Formal criticism stands abashed before such a 
work. One turns with relief to the verdict of Holland: 

In order to be fully sensible of the power of the work, one 
must take account of its hidden unity. Most French readers, 
who are a trifle near-sighted, see only its thousands of de- 
tails, the profusion of which bewilders them and throws 
them off the track. They are lost in this forest of life. One 
must rise above it and take in at a glance the free horizon, the 
circle of the woods and the fields; then one will perceive the 
Homeric spirit of the work, the calm of eternal laws, the 
grand rhythm of the breath of destiny, the feeling of the whole 
with which all the details are united; and, dominating the 
work, the genius of the artist, like the God of Genesis moving 
upon the face of the waters. — [Vie de Tolstoi, p. 62.] 

War and Peace is formed of numerous elements: pic- 
tures of Russian home life among the aristocracy, in their 
St. Petersburg and Moscow mansions and on their 
country estates, with revels at restaurants and whole- 
some merrymaking in the family circle and in the fields; 
and pictures of life in time of war, in the officers' mess- 
room, on the battlefield among the private soldiers, in 
panic-stricken Moscow, and on the wintry march, 
among the Russian prisoners carried off by Napoleon 
on his retreat from Russia. The novel has an historical 


setting; no small space is given to portraits of Napoleon 
and of Alexander I, and of the Russian generals, above 
all to that of the commander-in-chief Kutuzov. Into 
the work Tolstoy injects whole chapters of historical 
philosophy, utterly unconnected with the narrative, 
but justified in his mind as a commentary on the central 
event upon which the book turns as a pivot, the in- 
vasion of Russia by Napoleon. And finally, Tolstoy's 
ethical point of view, though still unsettled, here be- 
comes more articulate than in his previous works; 
through the lives of his two chief heroes, Pierre Bezukhov 
and Andrey Bolkonsky, to each of whom he imparts 
some share of his own personality, he gives full expression 
to his maturing philosophy of life. 

The first element is the most important. Home life 
had been Tolstoy's ideal since his boyhood, and now 
it had been realized. His work is pervaded by his new 
interests; it is the epic of the family; the family ideal 
dominates it even more absolutely than it does the work 
of English Victorian writers of the same period. In 
portraying family life Tolstoy drew on his own memories 
and on his family traditions; the two households that 
occupy the center of the stage in War and Peace are 
modeled on those of his father and mother. The Ros- 
tovs, open-handed, simple-hearted country squires, 
represent the Tolstoys; Nikolay Rostov and his father 
are portraits of the author's father and grandfather. 
But Natasha Rostov was not taken from tradition; in 
her Tolstoy combined traits of his wife and her sister: 

162 . TOLSTOY 

"I took Tanya," he is reported to have said, "pounded 
her up with Sonya, and Natasha was the result."* 
The Sonya of the novel was suggested by Tolstoy's 
beloved "aunt" Tatyana Ergolsky. The Bolkonskys, 
on the other hand, a reflective, intellectual, independent, 
forceful family, are modified copies of the Volkonskys, 
the family of Tolstoy's mother. His mother herself 
is represented by the pure-hearted but externally un- 
attractive Princess Mary a; while his maternal grand- 
father furnished the model of the eccentric old Prince 
Bolkonsky. All these identifications, however, must be 
accepted with a certain reserve. Tolstoy himself, ac- 
cording to his son, disliked questions as to the exact 
sources of the characters that he created, and "used to 
say that a writer forms his types from a whole series 
of people, and they never can or ought to be portraits 
of particular individuals. "f 

In his earlier writings Tolstoy had been noticeably 
chary of feminine portraits. Now he presents a whole 
gallery of them, drawn and colored with the most ex- 
quisite sympathy and skill. One among them stands 

Wholesomeness and geniality, a hearty delight in 
mere existence, personal kindliness and freedom from 
reflection, a whole-souled contentment with the world 
as it is, and a deep aversion to anxiety and bother over 
finances, characterize the household of the Hostovs. 

* Biryukov: II, 32, on the authority of the Countess Tolstoy 
f Count Hyd Tolstoy, Reminiscences of Tolstoy, p. 67, 


All these qualities, combined with an artistic tempera- 
ment and a girlish love of the whole world, combine to 
make Natasha Rostov Tolstoy's most charming crea- 
tion, and, one dares to say, the most charming heroine 
of all prose fiction. The great heroines of poetry and 
romance, from Helen of Troy to Goethe's Margaret, are 
all outline sketches, not less true, but less complete and 
many-sided than this detailed portrait of a real girl 
and woman, whose life was the reverse of romance, and 
whose destiny the plainest of humdrum prose. That 
Tolstoy could infuse pure beauty and poetry into a 
story such as hers would alone win him a place among 
the master spirits of literature. 

We see Natasha first as a girl of thirteen, scarcely out 
of the nursery: at a stately family dinner she rises 
and demands to know what the dessert is to be, and 
will not be quieted until she is told. Less than a year 
later she wins the heart of the rough hussar Denisov, 
her brother's friend, and is childishly grieved that she 
cannot make him happy, though she has no thought of 
marrying him: 

Natasha ran to her mother in great excitement. 

"Mamma, mamma, he's made me!" 

"What has he made you?" 

"He's made me, made me a proposal. Mamma, mamma!" 
she cried. The Countess could not believe her ears. Denisov 
had made a proposal. To whom? To that mite of a girl 
Natasha, who had only just left off playing with dolls and 
was still taking lessons. 

104 *OLS?0¥ 

"Natasha, stop your nonsense!" she said, still hoping that 
this was a joke. 

"Nonsense! I'm talking seriously to you," said Natasha 
angrily. "I came to ask you what to do, and now you say 



The Countess shrugged her shoulders. 

"If it's true that Monsieur Denisov has made you a pro- 
posal, then tell him that he's a fool; that's all." 

"No, he isn't a fool," said Natasha with a grave and in- 
jured air. 

"Well, then what do you want? You are all in love 
nowadays. If you're in love with him, then marry him!" 
said the Countess with an angry laugh. "My blessings on 

"No, mamma, I'm not in love with him; most likely I'm not 
in love with him." 

"Well, then tell him so." 

"Mamma, are you angry? Don't be angry, darling; how 
am I to blame ?" 

"Then what shall we do, my dear? If you wish I'll go tell 
him," said the Countess with a smile. 

"No, I'll do it myself, only you show me how to. Every- 
thing is easy for you," she added, answering her smile. "But 
if you had only seen how he said that to me! I know he didn't 
mean to say it, but just said it accidentally." 

"Well, anyhow you must refuse him." 

"No, I mustn't. I'm so sorry for him! He's such a dear." 

"Well, then accept his proposal. It's high time you were 
married," said the mother angrily and mockingly. 

"No, mamma, I'm so sorry for him. I don't know how to 
say it." 

"There's no use discussing; I'll tell him myself," said the 


Countess, irritated that anybody should have ventured to 
regard this little Natasha as a grown-up. 

"No, no indeed, I'll do it myself, and you just listen at the 
door." And Natasha ran across the drawing room into the 
hall, where on the same chair, at the clavicord, his face buried 
in his hands, Denisov was sitting. He started up at the 
sound of her light steps. 

"Natalie," he said, approaching her with swift steps. "De- 
cide my fate; it is in your hands!" 

"Vasily Dmitrich, I'm so sorry for you! No, but you're 
so splendid . . . but I mustn't . . . this . . . and so I 
shall always love you." 

Denisov bent over her hand, and she heard strange sounds 
that she could not comprehend. She kissed him on his black, 
tousled, curly head. At that moment there was heard the hasty 
rustle of the Countess's gown. She came up to them. 

"Vasily Dmitrich, I thank you for the honor," said the 
Countess in a disturbed voice, but one that seemed severe 
to Denisov; "but my daughter is so young, and I thought that 
you, as my son's friend, would apply to me first. In such a 
case you would have spared me the necessity of a refusal." 

"Countess," said Denisov with lowered eyes and a guilty 
air; he endeavored to continue, and hesitated. 

Natasha could not bear to see him in such a pitiable state. 
She began to sob loudly. 

"Countess, I am at fault," Denisov continued with a choking 
voice, "but be assured that I so worship your daughter and 
all your family that I would give two lives. . ." He 
glanced at the Countess and noticed her stern face. "Well, 
good-bye, Countess," he said, kissing her hand; and, without 
a glance at Natasha, he left the room with quick, decisive 
steps. — [Part iv, ch. 16.] 


More than three years have passed, and a state ball 
is given by a St. Petersburg grandee to welcome in 
the new year, 1810. The Rostov family prepare anxiously 
for the great occasion; Tolstoy lingers with delight, in 
which his readers share, over the scene in the dressing 
room, which shows us Natasha's eager care that her 
cousin Sony a and her mother shall look their best. At 
the ball Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, a young man who 
has some time before lost his wife, and who has once 
caught a glimpse of Natasha at the Rostovs' country 
estate, now meets her once more: 

Prince Andrey, like all men who have grown up in society, 
liked to meet in society something not marked with the general 
social stamp. And such was Natasha, with her astonishment, 
joy, and timidity, and even with her mistakes in French. He 
behaved and spoke to her with peculiar tenderness and care. 
Sitting by her and talking with her about the simplest and most 
insignificant topics, Prince Audrey gazed with delight at the 
joyous sparkle of her eyes and at her smile, which was caused 
not by anything that was said but by the happiness that was 
within her. When Natasha was chosen as a partner and rose 
with a smile, and danced through the hall, Prince Andrey 
admired particularly her timid grace. In the middle of the 
cotillion Natasha, having finished a figure, came back to her 
place, still panting. A new partner invited her once more. 
She rose, still out of breath, and evidently thought of de- 
clining, but immediately merrily raised her hand once 
more to the shoulder of her partner and smiled to Prince 

"I should have been glad to rest and sit a while with you, 


for I was tired; but you see they keep inviting me, and I 
am glad of it, and I am happy, and I love everybody, and 
you and I understand all that — " this and much more be- 
sides was expressed in her smile. When her partner left her, 
Natasha ran across the hall to select two ladies for the figures. 

"If she goes to her cousin first and then to another lady, 
then she will be my wife," Prince Andrey said to himself 
absolutely unexpectedly as he watched her. She went to her 
cousin first. 

"What stuff will come into one's head sometimes!" thought 
Prince Andrey. "But this much is certain, that that girl 
is so charming, so different from everybody else, that before 
she has danced here a month she will get married. She is 
a rarity for this place," he thought, when Natasha, adjusting 
a rose that had got out of place in her corsage, seated herself 
beside him. 

At the end of the cotillion the old Count in his blue dress 
coat came up to the dancers. He invited Prince Andrey to 
call and asked his daughter whether she was having a good 
time. Natasha did not answer; she only smiled with a smile 
that said reproachfully: "How can you ask such a question?" 

"The best time I ever had in my life!" she said, and Prince 
Audrey noticed how she quickly started to raise her thin arms 
to embrace her father and immediately let them fall once 
more. Natasha was happier than she had ever been before in 
her life. She was at that highest pinnacle of happiness when a 
human being becomes perfectly good and kind and does not 
believe in the possibility of evil, unhappiness, and grief. — 
[Part vi, ch. 17.] 

Prince Andrey makes a proposal for Natasha in due 
form. She accepts him and falls madly in love with 


him, as well she may — for no young man in Russia is 
of higher character, of finer talent, or of more brilliant 
social position. Owing to the opposition of Prince 
Andrey's father, the marriage must be postponed for a 
year, during which time Prince Audrey travels in western 
Europe. Natasha, ill at ease owing to the separation 
from him, and treated with rudeness by his family, 
meets the rake Anatole Kuragin, who by mere masculine 
force of character leads astray the impressionable young 
girl and persuades her to elope with him. Luckily 
the shrewd and kindly woman at whose house Natasha 
is staying learns of the plot and averts disaster by locking 
Natasha securely in her chamber. Natasha, disgraced, 
gradually recovers from her infatuation; the one person 
who gives her effective comfort and sympathy is the 
slow, fat-witted Pierre Bezukhov, the rich husband of 
a bad woman, sister of Anatole Kuragin. Natasha, 
repentant, prepares for communion, and at the solemn 
service is bidden to pray for those who hate her. The 
poor child can think of none who do so, since everybody 
whom she has known has been fond of her; but, after 
reflection, she prays for her father's creditors — who need 
her prayers — and for Anatole, who has done her wrong, 
though he has not hated her. The service changes to 
prayers for the destruction of the enemies of Russia. 
But Natasha "could not pray for the trampling under 
foot of her enemies, when a few moments before her 
only wish had been to have more of them in order to 
pray for them. Yet she could not doubt the justice of 


the prayer repeated by the kneeling throng.' '* Prince 
Andrey, bitter and cynical owing to Natasha's betrayal 
of him, is brought wounded from Borodino into Moscow, 
and is carried from the doomed city by the Rostovs. 
Natasha nurses him tenderly until his death and wins 
his forgiveness. Later the wife of Pierre dies and Pierre 
wins Natasha. The epilogue shows them living happily: 

Natasha had married in the early spring of 1813, and by 1820 
already had three daughters and one son, whom she had longed 
for and whom she was now suckling herself. She had grown 
stout and plump, so that it was hard to recognize in this strong 
mother the former slender and lively Natasha. Her features 
had become defined and had an expression of calm softness and 
clearness. In her face there was no longer that ceaselessly 
glowing fire of animation that had formed her charm. Now 
often only her face and body were visible, and her soul was not 
visible at all. There was visible only a strong, handsome, and 
fertile female. Very rarely now did the former fire blaze up 
within her. That happened only when, as now, her husband 
returned from absence, when a child was recovering from an 
illness, . . . and very rarely when something accidentally 
aroused her to singing, which she had completely abandoned 
after her marriage. And in those rare moments when the 
former fire blazed up in her mature handsome body she was 
still more attractive than before 

Natasha did not like general society, but so much the more 

did she prize the society of her own kin, of the Countess 

Marya, of her brother, her mother, and Sonya. She prized 

the society of those people among whom, disheveled and in 

*Part ix, ch. 18. 


her dressing gown, she could emerge from the nursery with 
long strides and with a joyous face, and exhibit a diaper with a 
yellow spot instead of a green one, and hear consoling assur- 
ances that the child was now far better. — [Epilogue: part I, 
ch. 10.] 

Let us listen to the brilliant Russian critic Merezhkov- 
sky, as he moralizes over this situation, which has dis- 
concerted so many readers: 

Natasha has "no words of her own." But, like those 
statues which, rising aloft in the sky on the very pinnacles 
of immense complicated buildings, reign over them, complete 
them and crown them, the picture of Natasha-the-mother, 
appearing in the epilogue of War and Peace, mutely and ele- 
mentally reigns over the whole boundless epopee, so that the 
action of a tragedy of universally historic significance — 
wars, movement of nations, the grandeur and the doom of 
heroes — seems only the pedestal of this Mother-Female, who, 
triumphing, exhibits diapers with a yellow spot instead of a 
green one. Austerlitz, Borodin6, the conflagration of Moscow, 
Napoleon, Alexander the Blessed may be and may perish — 
all shall pass away, all shall be forgotten, shall be wiped off 
the tablets of universal history by a succeeding wave, like 
letters written on the sands of the shore — but never, in no 
civilization, after no storms of universally historic significance 
shall mothers cease to rejoice over a yellow spot on diapers 
instead of a green one. At the very summit of his production, 
one of the mightiest edifices ever erected by men, the creator 
of War and Peace unfurls this cynical banner, "diapers with a 
yellow spot," as the guiding banner of humanity. — [Tolstoy 
and Dostoyevsky, part II, ch. 3.] 


Such is our last glimpse of Natasha in War and 
Peace. But, as has been said, Tolstoy had at first 
planned a novel on the Decembrists, which was to deal 
with the later life of the same characters that appear in 
War and Peace, and he had written certain fragments of 
it. In one of these we see Natasha in her old age. Pierre 
has joined the conspiracy and has been sent to Siberia, 
whither Natasha has followed him. In 1856 they are 
allowed to return home — and this is how Tolstoy describes 
Natasha on her arrival in Moscow: 

Natalya Nikolayevna, after arranging the room, adjusted 
her collar and cuffs, which were still clean, despite the journey, 
combed her hair, and sat down by the table. Her fine dark 
eyes were fixed on some point in the distance; she gazed 
and rested. She seemed to be resting not merely from the un- 
packing, not merely from the journey, not merely from her 
heavy years — she seemed to be resting from her whole life, 
and the distance into which she gazed and in which there 
rose before her living, beloved faces, was the rest for which she 
yearned. Whether it was the supreme act of love that she had 
performed for her husband, or the love that she had lived 
through for her children when they were small, whether it 
was some grievous loss or some peculiarity of her character — no 
person who glanced at this woman could fail to understand 
that there was nothing more to be expected of her; that she 
had long since spent her whole self in life and that nothing 
remained of her. There remained something fair and sad, 
worthy of reverence, like memories, like moonlight. It was 
impossible to imagine her otherwise than surrounded with 
respect and with all the comforts of life. That she should 


ever be hungry and eat greedily, that she should wear dirty 
linen, that she should stumble or forget to blow her nose — 
nothing of the sort could happen to her. It was physically 
impossible. Why it was so I know not, but her every motion 
was majesty, grace, love for all those who had the privilege of 
seeing her. 

Sie pflegen und weben 
Himmlische Rosen ins irdische Leben. 
She knew those verses and loved them, but she was not guided 
by them. Her whole nature was an expression of this thought, 
her whole life was but an unconscious plaiting of invisible 
roses into the life of all men whom she met. She had followed 
her husband to Siberia simply because she loved him; she did 
not think of what she could do for him, but involuntarily she 
did everything. She spread his bed, she packed his things, 
she prepared his dinner and his tea, and, above all, she was 
always where he was, and greater happiness no woman could 
have given to her husband. — [The Decembrists, fragment I, 
ch. 1.] 

The same immediate touch with life, the same frank 
directness, are found in Natasha's prosaic brother 
Nikolay, who, devoid of any personal charm, inde- 
pendence of character, or magnetism, develops, after 
sowing a patch or two of wild oats, into a typical country 
squire. He is the central figure in Tolstoy's marvelous 
description of the wolf hunt, the finest picture of out- 
of-door sport to be found in Russian literature. The 
feeling in the scene is that of Borrow's Petulengro: 
"There's the wind on the heath, brother; if I could 
only feel that, I would gladly live forever." Nikolay 's 


whole being is absorbed in the tense excitement of the 

Several times he addressed a prayer to God that the wolf 
might come out towards him; he prayed with that passionate 
and shamefaced feeling with which men pray in moments of 
strong agitation that depends on an insignificant cause. 
"What does it cost Thee," he said to God, "to do this for me! 
I know that Thou art great, and that it is a sin to ask Thee 
for this; but for God's sake make the old wolf come out 
towards me, and make Karay clutch him with a death grip in 
the throat."— [Part vn, ch. 5.] 

Very different from Natasha and Nikolay is Sonya, a 
distant relative and dependent of the Rostov family. 
She is good and sweet, but she has no bubbling spring 
of life within her. Loving Nikolay with a constant 
devotion, she wins his heart; then, seeing that he has no 
ardent affection for her, and that he must make a 
rich match, she gives him up. Nikolay retrieves the 
family fortunes by marrying the wealthy Princess 
Marya Bolkonsky, sister of Prince Andrey, and Sonya 
lives on as a dependent in their family. "Sometimes I 
am awfully sorry for her," Natasha comments. "I 
used to be awfully anxious that Nikolay should marry 
her; but I always seemed to have a premonition that 
it could never happen. She is a sterile flower; such as 
grow on strawberry vines, you know. Sometimes I am 
sorry for her, and sometimes I think that she does not 
feel it as we should."* 

* Epilogue: part i, ch. 8. 


Wonderful in another fashion is the account of the 
home life of old Prince Bolkonsky, formerly a general 
in the Russian army. A widowed recluse, he passes his 
time alone on his estate, working at his turning lathe, 
making mathematical calculations, and giving lessons 
in geometry to his daughter Marya. The old humorist 
is a real figure, not a grotesque exaggeration. 

The Kuragin family show Tolstoy's skill in still a 
different sphere. Occupying a high station in court 
society, they are all corrupt and vicious. The father 
is a selfish schemer, with no heart whatever, and capable 
of the dirtiest intrigues. The sons are rakes; the 
daughter, the statuesque Princess Elena, who married 
Pierre Bezukhov, is every whit as stupid and as wicked 
as they, but by her physical beauty and by a certain 
native tact she holds a secure position as a society 
queen. As to her Tolstoy preaches no sermons; by 
hints and suggestions he conveys his loathing for her 
sensual nature. 

In War and Peace Tolstoy's methods are the same 
that have been already analyzed in speaking of Child- 
hood, Boyhood, and Youth. But he uses them with a 
bolder sweep; his tone of cynical probing into motives 
is replaced by that of joyous, unconscious, benevolent 
omniscience. He first describes the outward appearance 
of a man or woman in such a way as to suggest char- 
acter; then he gradually unfolds that character by acts, 
great and small, and by detailed analysis of the feel- 
ings. Each person grows old before the reader's eyes. 


Similarly, Tolstoy's pictures of battles and of war in 
general show the same peculiarities that we have already 
remarked in Sevastopol. Suffering, not heroism, gives 
war its individuality. The showy heroism of Prince 
Andrey at Austerlitz accomplishes nothing; Nikolay's 
tales of hussar bravery are mainly folly and pretence. 
The real actors in battle are the quiet common soldiers, 
or men like the modest artillery captain Tushin. But 
now Tolstoy proceeds from mere observation of the 
details of military life, as masterly as that which he 
gives of the drawing room and the nursery, to a reasoned 
commentary on war, of which the finality is not so ap- 
parent. Not only valorous officers, he argues, but clever 
generals are of no account in the progress of a campaign. 
Napoleon, greatest of military geniuses by common 
repute, was nothing but a puffed-up nonentity. Cir- 
cumstances favored him in his early campaigns, and he 
won them; in his invasion of Russia he showed neither 
more nor less military talent than before, yet he was 
miserably defeated, since the trend of events — one may 
call this fate, though Tolstoy avoids the term — was now 
against him. Analyzing Napoleon's single acts in the 
war, Tolstoy shows them to have been foolish and ill- 
judged. The Russian generals who contrived strategy 
to meet Napoleon were similarly impotent. Only 
Kutuzov, fat and sluggish, almost in his dotage, who 
sleeps through a council of war, is master of the situa- 
tion by surrendering himself to the spontaneous move- 
ment of the Russian people and swimming with the 


current. Napoleon was defeated by a whole nation of 
which Kutuzov was the accidental representative. 

In all this one sees the individualism and hatred of 
organization that is a distinguishing trait of Tolstoy's 
temperament. He can draw the whole man in the case 
of Nikolay Rostov or Pierre Bezukhov or Levin (in 
Anna Kareniri); he can show the officer in the mess 
room or the dreamer in his study, even the capable 
proprietor superintending laborers on his estate. But 
more complicated organization, in which one must per- 
force rise beyond human relations into something like 
statistical calculations, and in which one deals with ink 
and paper as well as human beings, or instead of them, 
is uncongenial to Tolstoy, and he disbelieves in talent 
so exhibited. Napoleon is futile, but so also is Speransky, 
the great Liberal minister of Alexander I, whose plan 
for the transformation of Russia into a constitutional 
monarchy was thwarted, though Tolstoy does not tell us 
so, by the treachery of his master. A man's true mission 
is to shape his own life; when he attempts to guide 
external events he becomes ineffective. 

One is not surprised then, to find War and Peace 
widely different in artistic methods from all historical 
novels of the school of Sir Walter Scott, Dumas, or 
Sienkiewicz. Ivanhoe and The Talisman give pictures of 
far-off times and countries that add to the narrative 
a gaudy strangeness; costuming and historic associa- 
tions lend interest to conventional and vaguely con- 
ceived characters; Tolstoy, on the other hand, draws 


living men and women whose lives are seen against 
the background of a world event which they have no 
power to shape or direct. In Scott's stories historical 
persons like Richard the Lion-hearted and Saladin 
mingle with the creations of the novelist's fancy and 
determine their fortunes, or are potently aided by them; 
underneath the story lies the tacit assumption that 
the individual will is the force determining history. 
History becomes a complex of picturesque biographies. 
In War and Peace Napoleon appears, but as an awkward, 
stoutish man, vain and futile, who has no more influence 
on history than the meanest soldier in the army that 
invades Russia under his nominal leadership. The 
Rostovs and Bolkonskys are affected not by Napoleon 
or Alexander, but by the unseen, mysterious currents of 
human destiny. 

This conception of history Tolstoy does not leave 
to be inferred from his narrative, nor does he convey it 
by scattered hints and comments; to it he devotes whole 
chapters of abstract reasoning. These are, one must 
admit, a blemish in his great work, of which they inter- 
rupt the continuity. The theory that they develop is 
of no importance except as coming from Tolstoy, as one 
stage in the thought of a man of vigorous, though ec- 
centric, intellectual power. In the narrative his skill 
as an artist makes us accept for the moment his view 
of the impotence of human individuals in the shaping of 
history, just as the skill of Homer makes us accept the 
contrary assumption of the all-importance of personal 


prowess. An artist need see but one side of a question, 
a philosopher must see all sides; when Tolstoy philos- 
ophizes he still sees but one side, and the flaws in his 
reasoning become apparent. When inspired by moral 
fervor, as in the religious works of his later life, or when 
he discusses problems of human life drawn from his 
own experience, as in his articles on education, Tolstoy 
is a writer of marvelous power; when, as here, he tries 
to analyze an abstract problem, he is confused, contra- 
dictory, and tiresome. 

History, Tolstoy states, has been conceived of as 
primarily the work of heroes, of representative men, of 
leaders who have consciously shaped human destiny. 
To this conception of history, antiquated even in his 
own time, Tolstoy correctly demurs, but he errs by 
running to the other extreme, and totally denying the 
part played by the individual not only in guiding the 
fate of a nation, but in directing the course of a cam- 
paign, or deciding the outcome of a single battle. In 
a battle, he argues, no general knows what is happening; 
even subordinate commanders, not to speak of the field 
marshal, fail to control the men beneath them. A 
battle depends on a number of factors so infinitely 
large as to transcend human intellect. Seeing that a 
general is not omniscient and omnipresent, Tolstoy 
jumps to the conclusion that he is powerless. He 
forgets his preparations for the battle, his massing of 
chosen troops, his wise selection of subordinates, his 
personal influence on the mind of every private in his 


ranks. Napoleon, Tolstoy tells us, did not order the 
invasion of Russia any more than each of his private 
soldiers did so, for if one corporal had refused to enter 
the new campaign, and others had followed his example, 
then the invasion could not have taken place.* 

The soldiers of the French army advanced to kill and to be 
killed at the battle of Borodino not in consequence of the 
command of Napoleon, but by their own desire. The whole 
army, French, Italians, Germans, Poles, hungry, tattered, 
and worn out by the march, in the sight of an army that 
barred them from Moscow, felt that le vin est tire et qu'il 
faut le boire. If Napoleon had now forbidden them to fight 
with the Russians, they would have killed him and gone on to 
fight with the Russians, because it was indispensable for 
them to do so. — [Part x, ch. 28,1 

These arguments are hardly worthy of the detailed 

refutation that General Dragomirov has bestowed on 

them.j and indeed Tolstoy himself is not always true 

to them. He tells, for example, how Kutuzov "followed 

that impalpable force which is called the spirit of an 

army," and on which victory depends, and how "he 

guided it so far as that was in his power; "J and to 

guide the spirit of an army is surely much the same 

thing as to guide the army itself. To say nothing of 

such minor departures from his own principles, Tolstoy's 

minimizing of the importance of leaders of men is of 

* Part ix, ch. 1. 

f Tolstoy s " War and Peace" from a Military Point of View. Included 
in volume of Sketches: Kiev, 1898. 
% Part x, ch. 35. 


two sorts, radically inconsistent with each other. On 
the one hand he makes Napoleon of no more significance 
than a private soldier in his army; on the other he 
makes him a blind instrument in the hands of the forces 
controlling human destiny, thereby recognizing that at 
least he was a more important instrument than any 
other man of his time. This fundamental contradiction 
runs through all his reasoning on the part played by 
the individual in history. 

History, Tolstoy maintains, is the work of all men, 
and the result of an inscrutable number of minute causes. 
No man by conscious effort can alter history, which is 
the result of unconscious human activity. (One queries 
what Tolstoy would say of the Trans-Siberian Rail- 
road or the Panama Canal.) Its laws are then beyond 
the reach of human reason; events happened simply 
because they were bound to do so. In his revolt from 
hero-worship Tolstoy reaches only blind fatalism, with 
no glimmer of the modern economic interpretation of 

In fact the economic interpretation of history con- 
tradicts two of Tolstoy's fundamental ideas, those of 
the fixity and the duality of human nature. "Life mean- 
while," Tolstoy writes after mentioning the events of 
the years 1808 and 1809, "the genuine life of men with 
its essential interests of health, disease, work, rest; 
with its interests of thought, science, poetry, music, 
love, friendship, hatred, passions, went on as always 
independently and aloof from political intimacy and 


enmity with Napoleon Bonaparte, and aloof from all 
possible transformations."* Here he fails to recognize 
the fundamental sociological truth, that "personal 
life is conditioned by certain social forms, which change 
in consequence of the historical process; and that on 
these forms, on the whole complexion of social life, 
depend the fullness, the freedom, and the prosperity 
of personal existence, "f On this transformation of 
human character by historic conditions rests the whole 
modern conception of history. 

Furthermore Tolstoy makes a strict distinction be- 
tween the personal and the public life of man: 

There are two sides of life in every man: the personal life, 
which is the more free the more abstract are its interests; 
and the elemental, swarm life, in which man inevitably fulfils 
laws prescribed to him. 

Man lives consciously for himself, but serves as the uncon- 
scious tool for the attainment of the historic aims of all human- 
ity. An act once performed is irrevocable, and its action, 
coinciding in time with millions of acts of other men, receives 
historic significance. The higher a man stands on the social 
ladder, and the more people there are with whom he is con- 
nected, the more power does he have over other people and 
the more evident are the predestined character and the in- 
evitability of his every act. 

"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord." [Proverbs 
xxi, 1.] 

* Part vi, ch. 1. 

f Kareyev: The Historical Philosophy of Tolstoy in War and Peace 
(St. Petersburg, 1888), p. 8, 


The king is the slave of history. 

History, that is the unconscious, general, swarm life of 
humanity, makes use of every moment of the life of kings for 
itself, as a tool for its own ends. — [Part ix, ch. 1.] 

In the personal life Tolstoy feels free will, and takes it 
for granted; in the "swarm life" he denies free will and 
devotes many pages of ingenious reasoning to the dis- 
proof of its existence. His discussion of the problem 
suffers from a confusion of two distinct questions: 
the will may be termed bound by the law of causality, 
no act taking place without adequate cause; or it may 
be thought of as subject to the operation of certain 
historic laws, quite external to the individual. The 
first question is one for metaphysicians to settle, or at 
least to discuss, and is of small consequence in practical 
life; but one thing is self-evident, that if the law of 
causality applies to the "swarm life" of man it applies 
equally well to the life of the individual soul. And proof 
that the will is bound in the first sense does not in the 
least imply that it is bound in the second sense; much 
less that, if so bound, it could escape bondage by fleeing 
from the "swarm life" into that of the individual soul. 
Tolstoy's reasoning is once more an expression of his 
dislike for public activity, of the same bias that in his 
articles on education had made him recognize progress in 
the soul of man and deny it in history. His conscious- 
ness, which proclaims freedom as the condition of life, 
is at war with his intellect, which views every act of 
man as predetermined; this dualistic view of human 


nature is his refuge. But this dualism lacks any philo- 
sophic justification, and is inconsistent with the economic 
interpretation of history, which would regard the efforts 
of certain persons (hermits or monks, for example) to 
withdraw from the public life of the world, as itself 
an historic phenomenon of considerable importance. 

This brief summary of Tolstoy's views in War and 
Peace shows his total lack of real historic interest. His 
definition of historic, science is a mere negation of the 
possibility of such a science. Wrapt up in the problems of 
the individual life, Tolstoy condemns any attempt of the 
individual to influence history. As a novelist and an 
historian, he is a realist, drawing individual human life 
as it is, and striving to represent the historic process 
in the same fashion. But in the first case he is likewise 
an idealist, presenting character not only as it is, but 
in relation to what it should be; his characters are 
ceaselessly aspiring and ever occupied with moral prob- 
lems. This strain of idealism pervades all the greatest 
Russian writers, and distinguishes them from the 
French Naturalists; it is peculiarly characteristic of 
Tolstoy. Yet in his reasoning on history, thanks to his 
fatalistic conception of it, his idealism deserts him; men 
cannot guide humanity forward by conscious effort. 
Later, in What Shall We Do Then? (1886), Tolstoy will 
open his eyes and see that any individual, by developing 
a new life conception, may by infection modify the 
lives of others, and so be an instrument for bringing 
in a new social order. Then he will construct his own 


theory of historic progress, which will differ from that 
of the Liberals not in kind but aim. And then, in Why 
People Become Intoxicated (1890), he will condemn dis- 
cussion on free will and determinism as a futile waste 
of time. 

Unlike his views on history, Tolstoy's views on per- 
sonal conduct are expressed not in chapters of abstract 
reasoning, but through the figures of Audrey Bolkonsky, 
Pierre Bezukhov, and Platon Karatayev. To the first 
two of these men, the chief heroes of the novel, he 
gives what he terms the finest human qualities (those 
which are always denied to generals); love, poetry, 
tenderness, and searching philosophic doubt.* The 
third, a humble peasant, proves to represent the moral 
ideal for which the high-born Pierre has been vainly 
seeking. In each we see Tolstoy's emphasis on moral 
personality, as opposed to historic activity. 

Prince Audrey Bolkonsky is perhaps the most suc- 
cessfully portrayed "good man" in all fiction. Most 
heroes of poetry and romance that are meant to be 
types of strong, efficient character, Achilles, Prince 
Hal, Quentin Durward, are mere ardent, vigorous boys, 
whose charm is in youthful energy, and who must either 
die young or grow into portly and uninteresting middle- 
age. The middle-aged hero is usually a good man with 
a weakness or a villain with certain high endowments, 
Don Quixote or Colonel Newcome or Macbeth; his 
destiny is tragic and he appeals to our compassion quite 
* Part ix, ch. 11. 


as much as to our admiration. The perfect man, effi- 
cient in intellect, virtuous in conduct, and successful 
in his career, is generally a prig or a bore: pious ^Eneas 
is the best example for all time, while the mythical 
George Washington of the popular imagination may be 
a fair second. (Tolstoy's Levin, as we shall see, knocks 
for admittance to this mawkish club, but is not quite 
permitted to enter.) Poets and novelists of genius have 
understood ardent young men; they have also a sym- 
pathy with the human side of usurpers, generals, and 
statesmen. But to expect that they should understand 
the technical, special endowments of a statesman or a 
general or a captain of industry, of a Speransky or a 
Napoleon, is as absurd as to demand that they make 
independent contributions to chemistry or botany. 
And yet it is just this technical side of a statesman or 
a general that counts in his dealings with men, while 
the technical endowments of a chemist or a botanist may 
never be guessed by men other than chemists or botanists. 
Virgil cannot make us see the generalship or the states- 
manship of JEneas and he is forced to pour out such 
fulsome admiration of the man as defeats its own aim. 
Shakespeare or Congreve can make a simple maiden or 
a society belle charming by their conversation; they 
cannot similarly create a leader of men. Shakespeare 
can write an eloquent speech for Mark Antony, or he 
can tell us of the great side of a character like Brutus and 
make the man winning by his simple humanity: that 
is all. 


To return from this long digression, in Prince Audrey 
Tolstoy has come nearer than any other novelist to solv- 
ing this impossible problem. To this character he has 
given his own energy and vigor, along with a con- 
ventional society distinction and charm of which he 
felt the lack in himself. He has made him conscientious, 
high-spirited, self-sacrificing, with lofty aims. Prince 
Andrey is an aristocrat by nature as well as by birth; 
his talents are recognized by all, and the path to dis- 
tinction in the state service lies open to him. To say 
all this of a man is easy, but Tolstoy manages to have 
Andrey's manner and words suggest his distinction. 
He is efficient, not oratorical; his personal courage is 
that of a man rather than of a valiant boy such as 
Nikolay. By his human failings of pride and uncharity, 
even snobbery, Tolstoy preserves him from being mawk- 
ish. Then comes the characteristically Russian, or 
shall we say Tolstoyan touch. Prince Andrey suddenly 
finds meaningless all the public activity that has seemed 
to him so important; he looks forward to true happiness 
in life with Natasha. Deserted by her, he is filled with 
cynicism and despair; then, mortally wounded at Boro- 
dino, he recovers happiness in the hospital, by forgiving 
Anatole Kuragin, the man who has wronged him, and 
who now lies on the operating table near by. Tolstoy 
has created a man fit for action, but has made him see 
the futility of the active life just as he is winning his 
first success in it, in order that he may take up the 
true life of thought and feeling. 


Thought and feeling have ever been the portion of 
Prince Andrey's friend and complement, Count Pierre 
Bezukhov. He is a stout, short-sighted, ungainly youth, 
possessed of immense wealth. Incapable of making a 
good impression in society and not above reproach in 
his private life, he is valued by Andrey because of his 
transparent goodness of heart. Tricked into marriage 
with an evil woman, he finds solace in the mystic mum- 
meries of the Free Masons. For a time these give a 
moral stimulus to his dreamy nature, but he soon dis- 
covers that his beloved order is becoming a refuge for 
fashionable hypocrites. His love and pity for Natasha 
give the girl hope and courage when most she needs 
them. When Napoleon enters Moscow, Pierre fantasti- 
cally imagines himself the savior of Russia and sets 
out to slay the conqueror. He is forthwith arrested 
by the French, who carry him off on their retreat 
from the city. On the dreadful march he becomes 
acquainted with a companion in captivity, Platon 
Karatayev, whose words and example work a moral 
transformation within him. When released from duress, 
he returns to his estate, marries Natasha, and lives 
in bliss with her, under her welcome yoke; yet his 
guiding principle in life is always the memory of 

And who was Karatayev? An illiterate little peasant, 
of scanty intelligence, who lived from day to day with 
no thought of the morrow. He was incarnate simplicity 
and goodness; unable to reason as to his own conduct, 


he always instinctively fulfilled the spirit of Chris- 

Karatayev had no attachments, no friendship or love, as 
Pierre understood them; but he loved all and lived lovingly 
with all with which life brought him into contact, and in 
particular with man — not with any special man, but with the 
men who were before his eyes. He loved his dog, he loved 
his comrades, loved the French, loved Pierre, who was his 
neighbor; but Pierre felt that Karatayev, notwithstanding all 
his caressing tenderness towards him (by which he involunta- 
rily paid what was due to the spiritual life of Pierre), would 
not for a moment have been grieved by separation from him. 
And Pierre began to experience the same feeling towards 

Platon Karatayev for all the rest of the prisoners was the 
most ordinary sort of soldier; . ' . . they bantered him good- 
humoredly and sent him on errands. But for Pierre, even as 
he had appeared on that first night, the unattainable, round, 
and eternal embodiment of the spirit of simplicity and truth, 
so he remained forever. — [Part xn, ch. 13.] 

This simple model is now the culmination of Tol- 
stoy's wisdom: absolute submission to the powers that 
be, absolute refusal to enforce one's will on a fellow 
creature, absolute truthfulness, and, above all, universal 
kindliness and love. In the all-loving self-effacement of 
Karatayev, and in the maternal love of Natasha, the 
great epic narrative of Russia, the greatest work of art 
that has come from the broad plains of eastern Europe, 
finds its conclusion, so incongruous from the point of 


view of conventional story-telling, so harmonious with 
the spirit of Tolstoy, in whose eyes the founding of an 
empire is of less profit to a man than a single act of 
personal kindness. 

As has already been emphasized, there are two sides 
to Tolstoy's nature and to his literary genius. He has 
a marvelous power over concrete detail, the pomp and 
parade of external circumstance, and he uses it to por- 
tray character as no other writer has ever done. On 
the other hand, he has an overmastering sense of moral 
responsibility, a compelling interest in the inner moral 
life. In the works written before his marriage the first 
element predominates; in War and Peace it still holds 
the first place in the reader's attention, despite the 
prominence that is given to the moral development of 
Prince Andrey and Pierre Bezukhov. In Anna Karenin 
the moral point of view has become firmer and more 
dominating. The grip on externals is the same, but 
the wealth of them is held in check and directed to a 
definite end. The book, whether through conscious ob- 
servation of technical rules of construction, or uncon- 
scious following of a moral purpose, has a unity lacking 
in its predecessor, and, outside of Russia at least, has 
gained far wider circulation and greater fame. Its 
Puritan definiteness of moral outlook has probably 
greatly contributed to its wonderful success in England 
and America. 

In Anna Karenin Tolstoy narrows his field, concen- 


trating his attention on two families and on their private 
life. Like War and Peace, this new novel is a hymn in 
praise of the family. " The idea of Anna Karenin is that 
sexual relations must be guided by pure Christian love 
and not by the egoistic love of affinity or by the ob- 
ligatory love of church or society. Hence he takes two 
pairs of lovers. He endows the first pair, Anna and 
Vronsky, with more perfections than the second, and 
shows how permanent thought and fear about personal 
happiness ruin their lives, and how sacrifice, pardon, and 
the desire to make happy another (in short Christian 
love) teach Kitty and Levin to be happy." * 

Concentration of purpose then makes Anna Karenin 
the most unified of all Tolstoy's longer works. Further- 
more, in the construction of his plot Tolstoy employs 
a conventional device such as he ordinarily disdains 
and such as we might anticipate from Sir Walter Scott 
or from Dickens. At the time when Anna meets 
Vronsky for the first time, in the railway station, a 
peasant is killed by a train. Anna, not knowing why, 
sees in the incident an omen foreboding disaster, and 
cannot drive it from her mind. Later, during the course 
of her amour with Vronsky, she dreams of a peasant 
bending down over a sack, fumbling in it, and uttering 
incoherent French words: Ilfaut le battre lefer, le broyer, 
le petrir; and Vronsky at the same time has a similar 
dream. And at the catastrophe, when Anna throws 
herself beneath the train, "a peasant, muttering some- 
* From an essay by Mr. F. A. Postnikov. 


thing, was working at the iron above her." Thus a 
sense of impending tragedy pervades the whole work, 
in contrast to War and Peace, in which the reader, like 
the actors themselves, is quite ignorant what fate may 
have in store. 

The concession to conventional construction, impor- 
tant in the comparison of this novel with other works 
by Tolstoy, is after all very slight: Anna Karenin 
abounds in episodes and descriptions that have no pos- 
sible bearing on Anna's story. The contrast of her 
tragic fate with the commonplace happiness of Levin 
and Kitty is not worked out with any balancing of de- 
tail; the two stories run side by side almost indepen- 
dently: Tolstoy develops one of them to a convenient 
stopping place and then turns to the other. Often 
Anna's fortunes seem to be no more than an episode in 
the novel that bears her name. Her love of Vronsky 
and its consequences could have been told more neatly, 
and in a sense more effectively, by a dozen inferior 
novelists than by Tolstoy, with his apparent prodigality 
of good material. 

One inquires involuntarily whether Tolstoy really 
fails to understand his own art; whether he actually 
wastes good material because he does not know how 
to employ it effectively. A single illustration will show 
that he is really a master of compressed, vivid sugges- 
tion. Anna Karenin is a woman of about thirty, who 
has been living for eight years with a husband seme 
twenty years older than herself; their life has been, if 


not blissful, at least not the reverse. She has respected 
and admired her husband and has been faithful to him 
from conviction as well as from convention. Then she 
leaves him for a few days, in order to visit the family of 
her brother in Moscow. There, at a dancing party, she 
meets Vronsky, a handsome young officer, and, without 
herself being conscious of the fact, she falls in love with 
him. He returns to St. Petersburg on the same train 
with her, and seizes an opportunity for telling her of 
his passion for her. Her mind is filled with her new 
interests. At the station in St. Petersburg her husband 
meets her: 

In St. Petersburg, as soon as the train stopped and she got 
out of the railway carriage, the first face that attracted her 
attention was the face of her husband. "O heavens, where 
did he ever get such ears?" she thought, looking at his cold 
and stately figure, and especially at what had so startled her 
now, the cartilages of his ears, which supported the sides of his 
round bat. — [Part I, ch. 30.] 

For eight years she had lived with him and never 
noticed his ears, just as no man notices or cares for any 
small physical defect or ugliness in those near and 
dear to him. Now she sees those ears — and they 
continue to stick out during all the rest of the 
novel. In a half-dozen lines Tolstoy has shown the pro- 
found change that has come over the woman's* whole 
Why then is Tolstoy, throughout the book, so lavish 


of detail that tells nothing of Anna? Because he is 
striving to give a picture not of Anna alone, but of a 
whole world of complicated, conflicting interests. Though 
he has here chosen a narrower field than in War and 
Peace, he has not essentially changed his ideals and his 
methods of work. The portrayal of a great company 
of men and women is his primary interest rather than 
the telling of an absorbing tale of guilty love. Varenka, 
Nikolay Levin, Agafya Mikhaylovna, all claim his af- 
fection as well as Anna. 

Tolstoy's concessions to convention are very slight 
even in the story of Anna herself. Anna has a premoni- 
tion that she will die in childbirth. By her bedside her 
husband and her lover are reconciled: Karenin, a 
leatherish, documentary person, is touched to the quick 
so that he shows the inward fineness of his nature and 
forgives from his whole heart the man who has wronged 
him; Vronsky has a sudden realization of the sin that 
he has committed. The scene, as Mr. Ho wells has said 
with truth,* rises to heights unmatched in all fiction. 
By all ordinary rules of literary construction Anna 
should now die and the two men remain united by a 
common sorrow. But she recovers. Karenin returns 
from the heights of emotion to his office routine, and his 
ears stick out just as they did before. Anna leaves 
him and lives with her lover. Karenin is minded to 
give her a divorce, but, falling under the control of some 
pseudo-religious hypocrites, resists his natural feeling 
* In My Literary Passions. 


of compassion, and refuses to do so. Anna, living with 
Vronsky, but with no legal claim on him, finds that she 
is slowly losing her former unbounded power over his 
affections — and she kills herself in a moment of jealousy 
and despair. 

Indeed this novel, like all Tolstoy's work, impresses 
the reader as having grown like some living organism, 
instead of having been put together like a piece of ma- 
chinery. It is an illustration of a great esthetic truth 
that has been well expressed by Sellar: 

How the great impersonations of poetry and prose fiction, 
which are more real to our imaginations than the personages of 
history or those whom we know in life, come into being, is a 
question which probably their authors themselves could not 
answer. Though reflection on human nature and deliberate 
intention to exemplify some law of life may precede the creative 
act which gives them being, and though continued reflection 
may be needed to sustain them in a consistent course, yet no 
mere analytic insight into the springs of action can explain the 
process by which a great artist works. The beings of his im- 
agination seem to acquire an existence independent of the 
experience and of the deliberate intentions of their author, 
and to inform this experience and mold these intentions as 
much as they are informed and molded by them. — [The Ro- 
man Poets of the Augustan Age: Virgil (Oxford, 1877), pp. 
399, 400.] 

Tolstoy himself bears witness to this artistic experi- 
ence. In a letter to Strakhov he tells how he came 
to write of Vronsky's attempt at suicide, which immedi- 


ately follows the interview with Karenin that has just 
been described: 

In everything, almost everything that I have written, I 
have been guided by a need for the gathering of thoughts, 
connected with one another for self-expression; but every 
thought, expressed separately in words, loses its sense and 
is frightfully degraded when it is taken alone, outside its 
connection with others. And the connection itself is formed 
not by thought (in my opinion), but by something else, 
and to express the basis of this connection immediately 
by words is impossible: that can be done only mediately, 
by words that describe images, acts, situations. You know 
all this better than I do, but I have been interested in the 
point recently. One of the most evident proofs of it for me was 
the suicide of Vronsky, which you liked. The point was never 
so clear to me before. The chapter describing how Vronsky 
accepted his part after his interview with the husband had 
been long since written. I began to correct it, and quite 
unexpectedly for me, but beyond any doubt whatever, Vronsky 
started to shoot himself. Now it appears that this was or- 
ganically indispensable for what follows. — [Biryuk6v: II, 215.J 

Anna Karenin is one of the great love stories of the 
world. Yet never does one character in the novel pour 
out his feelings to another in words of poetic eloquence; 
the confessions of love are like those of real life, some- 
times through short, earnest speeches, more often by 
mere hints and implications: Anna and Vronsky at the 
ball learn of their mutual attraction by a subtle mental 
telegraphy as they chat on indifferent topics. We fol- 


low the course of Anna's passion not by her words, 
not often even by her conscious thoughts, but by her 
changed attitude to the world about her, to Dolly's 
children, to Kitty, to her husband, to St. Petersburg 
society. We feel her passion rather than learn of it. 
In the same way, though less subtly, more consciously, 
we are made to feel Levin's growing happiness. Here, 
as everywhere, we become acquainted with Tolstoy's 
men and women as with those of a new city in which 
we have taken up our home. 

Anna Karenin is a novel of the conscience. Scenes 
of fine, vigorous, physical life abound in it, to be sure, 
as in the picture of the mowing, where Levin, his moist 
shirt clinging to his aching back, strains every muscle 
in order to keep pace with his peasant laborers. With 
Levin, too, we rejoice in the coming of spring, thawing, 
gurgling, sprouting, rustling; here we gaze on nature 
with a farmer's eyes, as in War and Peace with a hunter's. 
Yet the hunter has his share too, even though he be 
only the unadventurous shooter of woodcock, in a fine 
chapter describing an evening's sport of Levin and 
Stepan Arkadyevich. But the spiritual life of the 
characters furnishes the primary interest of the book. 
The theories of War and Peace have disappeared; Tol- 
stoy is no longer interested in abstract speculation, even 
of his own nihilistic sort. Plain, ordinary, e very-day con- 
duct is his theme; he might be telling the story of the later 
life of Andrey Bolkonsky and Pierre Bezukhov, after 
they had recovered from day dreams of public activity. 


On one important matter, however, Anna Karenin 
shows us a significant change in Tolstoy's view of the 
state and of the individual man's attitude towards it. 
In Sevastopol he had described war with a feeling of 
horror at the sufferings caused by it, but with no attempt 
to reason upon its existence or to trace its cause. In 
War and Peace it had become the vast, inscrutable 
product of fate, rebellion at which would be futile. In 
Anna Karenin Levin expresses a more commonplace 
point of view: 

"My theory is this: war, on the one hand, is such an animal, 
cruel, and terrible thing that no single man, not to speak of a 
Christian, can take upon himself the responsibility for the 
beginning of war; of that the government alone is capable, 
which is summoned to do so and is inevitably brought into 
war. On the other hand both science and common sense teach 
us that in state matters, and especially in the matter of war, 
citizens renounce their personal will." — [Part vin, ch. 15.] 

Tolstoy's conscience rebels at war, but the former artil- 
lery officer is still a loyal subject of the tsar, and at the 
bidding of the state authorities will stifle its demands. 
Soon conscience will gain the upper hand, and Tolstoy 
will denounce the very existence of the state as a clog 
upon it. 

Puritan though he be in his point of view, Tolstoy is 
still broad in his sympathies, showing wonderful charity 
to sins that come from the animal nature and that 
have not destroyed goodness of heart. Stepan Arka- 
dyevich Oblonsky, Anna's sybarite, kind-hearted brother, 


violates nearly every law of the decalogue, and yet he 
receives from his creator a Fielding-like indulgence. To 
waste sermons on him would be as foolish as to lecture 
a kitten for stealing cream; his geniality and freedom 
from malice preserve him from reprobation. Tolstoy 
reserves his scorn for creatures like the Princess Betsy, 
outwardly respectable, but with neither morals nor 
kindliness to recommend them, who are not only vicious 
themselves, but the cause of viciousness in others. Yet 
even for her and for her fellows he shows contempt 
rather than wrath: such persons are outside the world 
in which he is interested, though not outside that which 
he sees. Tolstoy is little attracted even by the most 
moral men of bookish theories or purely external in- 
terests, by the sociologist Koznyshev and the Liberal 
county politician Sviyazhsky. They debate great 
questions or adopt public measures without relating 
them to their personal conduct, which flows on in ac- 
customed, routine channels. Tolstoy reserves his per- 
sonal attention, so to speak, for Anna and Vronsky, 
Levin and Kitty, Dolly, the careworn wife of Stepan 
Arkddyevich, and (to some extent) for Karenin — human 
beings who have a certain depth of emotion, a " force of 
life," to use Tolstoy's own term; who both reason about 
life's problems and feel thern, and who strive to shape 
their lives in accord with this reasoned emotion. 

What then is Tolstoy's attitude towards the central 
figure of his novel, towards the lovely and fascinating 
Anna, the unfaithful wife and the pitiful victim? Does 


he sympathize with her or does he cast a stone? In a 
sense he does both. To his book he prefixes the tre- 
mendous biblical minatory motto: "Vengeance is mine; 
I will repay" (Romans xii, 19). A reader involuntarily 
connects this with Anna's fate; vengeance has overtaken 
the sinner. But to this simple explanation there are 
decided objections. From the point of view of Russian 
high society, to which Anna belongs, adultery is a trivial 
offence, a mere peccadillo. The Russian critic Skabi- 
chevsky compares Tolstoy's treatment of this ordinary 
society transgression to the act of a man attacking flies 
with an axe. Tolstoy himself sees that from a social 
point of view Anna's offence lies not in her unfaithful- 
ness, but in her frankness and in her intensity of nature. 
Had she been content to live in her husband's house 
and keep up the appearance of respectability, according 
to his charge, no tragedy need have followed. Princess 
Betsy is living in prosperous security at the close of the 
novel. Vronsky's mother is gratified when she hears of 
her son's connection with Anna, "because nothing, ac- 
cording to her idea, gave the last finish to a brilliant 
young man like a liaison in high society, and because 
Madam Karenin, who had pleased her so much and who 
had talked so much about her own son, had after all 
turned out to be just such a person as were all beautiful 
and well-bred women, according to the ideas of the 
Countess Vronsky ";* she is grieved when she learns that 

* Part ii, ch. 18. The opinion reflects that of Tolstoy's "Aunt Taty- 
ana": see Confession, ch. 2. 


this is no mere brilliant and graceful society intrigue, 
but a deep and lasting passion, which may involve her 
son in foolish acts and affect his professional career. 
Later, had Karenin been willing to grant Anna a divorce, 
so that she and Vronsky might have married and recov- 
ered some social position, all might yet have been well, 
or at least no tragedy need have followed. But he re- 
fuses, and Anna lives with Vronsky in defiance not so 
much of moral standards as of social conventions that 
are no better than a parody of morality. Anna never 
in the novel shows any remorse for her desertion of her 
husband. Her suffering comes first from the snubs 
that she receives from her former society associates, 
which force her to concentrate her whole life in her 
lover; and, second, from her jealous despair when she 
discovers that her lover is beginning to have a life in- 
dependent of her own and that she is unable to control 
his every thought. 

In face of this difficulty, one might be tempted to 
apply the motto to the whole society of which Anna 
forms a part; to regard the novel as a philippic against 
modern society like the later What Shall We Do Then? 
or Resurrection. But Tolstoy gives no intimation of 
such an intent in the volume itself; he has not yet be- 
come a prophet preaching against the modern Babylon. 
Or one might interpret the motto in accord with Tol- 
stoy's later cardinal doctrine, that sinful man (in the 
person of the reader) should not pass judgment on his 
neighbor's conduct: " ' Vengeance is mine; I will repay/ 


saith the Lord.' 9 But such an interpretation is impos- 
sible, for in the novel Tolstoy constantly forces the moral 
issue on the reader's attention, compelling him to judge 
between Anna and Levin. 

The solution of the enigma may be found in the 
peculiar duality of Tolstoy's nature and his art. On 
the one side he is a moralist who constantly grows 
more strict and ascetic; on the other he is a clear- 
sighted painter of life as it actually exists. Breach of 
the marriage vows may be a peccadillo for Russian so- 
ciety; for Tolstoy it is a crime of capital moment. 
Tolstoy cannot think of adultery as "light and playful";* 
he feels that it is serious : his point of view is that of the 
Puritan Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter. Levin reflects 
his creator's temperament, and in his happy married 
life, based as it is on mutual love and self-sacrifices, 
realizes his ideal. Anna, led astray by the lust of the 
flesh, goes to ruin; Tolstoy is wilfully blind to the 
fact that her sin and her fate have no necessary con- 
nection. The Princess Betsy and Stepan Arkadyevich 
are both outside Tolstoy's moral world; he reasons about 
neither, but as a man he despises the one and likes the 
other. From his presentation of life, as from life itself, 
one may draw various conclusions. Tolstoy's own 
spiritual vision is clear and single, but he will not let 
it warp his picture of what actually goes on in the 
world about him. 

To Levin, Tolstoy gives much of his own individuality; 

*See page 155. 


his own brooding search for spiritual truth, his aversion 
for government activity, his passion for out-of-door life, 
his new-found faith in physical labor as a cure for 
spiritual ills. But he imparts to him none of his own 
universality of interests, of his high breeding or personal 
magnetism. Levin attains spiritual salvation in quiet 
farm work and in his family ties. The church he toler- 
ates, though it means little to him; among the humble 
peasants he finds the best stimulus to the spiritual life. — 
As an artistic creation Levin is not a complete success; 
he resembles too much the pattern good boy of the 
Sunday-school books. And yet his personality, tiresome 
at first for readers who are eager to press on with Anna's 
thrilling story, gains with each fresh perusal of the 
novel. At last we come closer to Levin and forgive 
him his virtues. A contrast of the two paragraphs in 
which Tolstoy says farewell to each of these characters 
will show us the author's point of view towards them, 
which is after all our grandmother's point of view, that 
to which we are all gradually drawing closer as we leave 
our youth behind us. 

This is our last glimpse of Anna in life: 

She had intended to fall under the center of the first rail- 
way carriage, which had come up opposite to her; but the red 
bag, which she had begun to take off her arm, checked her, 
and it was too late: the center had passed by her. She had to 
wait for the following carriage. A feeling such as she used 
to experience when bathing, when about to enter the water, 
seized her, and she crossed herself. The wonted gesture of 


making the sign of the cross called up in her soul a whole 
succession of girlish and childish memories, and suddenly 
the darkness that had concealed everything from her parted, 
and life rose before her for a moment with all its bright past 
joys. But she did not lower her eyes from the wheels of the 
second carriage that was approaching. And just at the mo- 
ment when the space between the wheels came even with her, 
she threw aside the red bag, and, drawing her head into her 
shoulders, fell under the carriage on her hands, and with a 
light movement, as if preparing to rise again immediately, 
dropped upon her knees. And at the same instant she was 
horrified at what she was doing. "Where am I? What am I 
doing? Why?" She wanted to rise and throw herself back; 
but something huge and implacable struck her upon the 
head and tugged at her back. "Lord, forgive me all!" she said, 
feeling the impossibility of struggle. A peasant, muttering 
something, was working at the iron above her. And the candle 
by which she had read the book filled with troubles, deceits, 
grief, and evil, flashed up with a brighter light than ever, 
illumined for her all that had before been in darkness, sput- 
tered, began to grow dim, and was extinguished forever. — 
[Part vii, ch. 31.] 

And this is the last thought of Levin, with which the 
novel closes: 

"Just as before, I shall get angry with Ivan the coachman, 
I shall dispute, I shall express my thoughts at the wrong time; 
there will be the same wall between the holy of holies of my 
soul and other people, even my wife; just in the same way 
as before I shall blame her for my own terror and repent 
doing so; just as before I shall fail to understand with my 


reason why I pray and yet I shall continue to pray — but my 
life now, my whole life, independently of anything that can 
happen to me, every moment of it, is not only not bereft of 
meaning, as it was before, but has the undoubted meaning of 
good, which I have power to implant in it!"* 

Living on his secluded estate, aloof from the literary 
circles of Russia, Tolstoy had written the two finest 
novels of Europe. Now he will turn aside from artistic 
creation, in order to work out within himself a new 
religious conception of life. He will attain a place 
among great religious leaders as well as among great 
men of letters. 

* The writer is indebted here and elsewhere to suggestions from lec- 
tures by Mr. Robert Herrick. 


the crisis; the religious system 

JNTO his fiction, as we nave seen, Tolstoy has 
constantly introduced characters who are to 
a greater or less extent reproductions of 
his own personality: Nikolay Irtenyev, 
Olenin, Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, Pierre Bezukhov, and, 
above all, Levin. These accounts at second hand, so 
to speak, of his own spiritual experiences are long and 
analytical studies that suggest George Eliot. Now, in 
1879, he suddenly tells us with startling directness and 
force the story of his own spiritual life, in his Confession. 
This little book of only eighty pages will ever remain 
a classic among religious autobiographies. It is so vivid, 
so compressed, so powerful, that one wishes to cite it 
entire rather than to give a mere summary of its contents. 
Tolstoy tells first of his boyhood, how he was educated 
in the faith of the Russian Orthodox Church, but very 
early lost that faith; more accurately, he never had 
genuine faith, but a mere wavering confidence in what 
others had taught him. His defection was like that of 
the immense majority of people of his own class of so- 
ciety, who were forced to remain legally members of the 



Orthodox Church, but who were at heart indifferent to 
it. "Then as now public recognition and profession of 
orthodoxy was found for the most part among people 
who were dull and cruel and who regarded themselves 
as very important. But intellect, honor, uprightness, 
kindliness, and morality were for the most part found 
in men who confessed themselves to be unbelievers." 
As for Tolstoy himself: "I believed in God, or rather I 
did not deny God — but in what God I should not have 
been able to say. Neither did I deny Christ and his 
teaching, but in what his teaching consisted I should also 
have been unable to say." He tried to lead a moral life, 
but was ridiculed for his efforts by others. His real 
faith was in self-perfection, which in practice was merely 
a struggle to be better than other men according to other 
men's standards, to be more famous, more important, 
and more wealthy than others. His life during his young 
manhood he describes as follows : 

I cannot recall these years without horror, disgust, and 
sickness of heart. I killed men in war, I challenged them to 
duels in order to kill them; I squandered money at cards, I 
ate up the toil of peasants; I punished them; I fornicated, I 
deceived. Lying, theft, lust of all sorts, drunkenness, violence, 
murder. . . . There was no crime that I might not have 
committed; and for all that the men of my own age praised me 
and regarded me, and still regard me, as a comparatively moral 
man.— [Ch. 2.] 

AH this means, of course, that Tolstoy's life was that 
of an average young man of society; one must not take 


too seriously the words of a convert as to his life before 
conversion: we have already passed in review the 
details of his outward existence.* 

Winning fame as an author, Tolstoy fancied himself 
a teacher, though he did not know what he was teach- 
ing; he accepted the point of view of his Liberal asso- 
ciates, including their faith in progress. Disenchanted 
with this, he grew sick, mentally rather than physically, 
but was saved from despair by his marriage and by the 
new interests that came with it: 

Despite the fact that I regarded authorship as a trifle dur- 
ing these fifteen years [after marriage], I nevertheless con- 
tinued to write. I had already tasted the seduction of author- 
ship, the seduction of huge financial profit and of the applause 
given me for my insignificant labor, and I gave myself up to 
it, as a means of bettering my material position and for stifling in 
my soul all questions of the sense of my life and of life in 
general. I wrote, teaching what for me was the sole truth, 
that one must so live as to gain most prosperity for himself 
and his family. — [Ch. 3.] 

But now questions began to occur to Tolstoy: What 
is the true aim of life? What permanent meaning can 
there be to man's existence, and in particular to that of 
Leo Tolstoy? 

In the midst of my thoughts about my farming, which in- 
terested me greatly at the time, there suddenly would come 
into my head the question: "Very well, you will have 16,000 

* In particular, compare pp. 9-14, 76, 77, above. 


acres in the province of Samara, and three hundred head of 
horses — and then?" . . . And I was quite at a loss and did 
not know what to think next. . . . Or, thinking of the fame 
that my works would gain for me, I said to myself: "Very 
well, you will be more famous than Gogol, Pushkin, Shake- 
speare, and Moliere, than all the writers in the world — well, 
what of it?" And I could make absolutely no answer. These 
questions will not wait; one must answer them at once: if 
you do not answer, you cannot live. But there is no answer. 
I felt that the foundation on which I had been standing 
had broken down, that I had nothing to stand on; that what 
I had been living by no longer existed, and that I had nothing 
to live by.— [Ch. 3.] 

Thus Tolstoy, rich, famous, and prosperous, was 
driven to the brink of suicide, and had to hide from 
temptations to shoot or to hang himself: 

My question, that which at fifty years of age had led me 
towards suicide, was the most simple question, one which lies 
in the soul of every man, from a silly child to the wisest sage, 
the question without which life is impossible, as I had ex- 
perienced in actual fact. The question is as follows: What 
will result from what I am doing now and shall do to-morrow? 
What will result from my whole life? 

Otherwise expressed, the question will be as follows: Why 
should I live, why should I desire anything, why should I do 
anything? Or the question may be expressed still otherwise: 
Is there in my life a meaning which would not be annihilated 
by the inevitable death that awaits me? — [Ch. 5.] 

This pondering upon life's ultimate, fundamental 
question is the root of Tolstoy's entire religious system, 


and, one may add, the root of all religious belief and of 
all philosophy that is developed independently by a 
man and not borrowed as a whole from some other per- 
son or institution. Such doubts and perplexities come 
at times into the life of every thinking man. But an 
Anglo-Saxon is not apt to be driven by them into de- 
spair or melancholia; he will reach despair, if at all, 
through misfortunes of the fleshly, material life, through 
vice or disappointment. To the brooding, emotional 
Russian the question is not so much a mental game or 
business as a vital problem, profoundly affecting con- 
duct. For the proof of this one may turn to the reflec- 
tion of Russian life in the works of Turgenev and 
Dostoyevsky as well as in those of Tolstoy himself. 
Meditation on fundamental problems rather than action 
on instinctive or half -considered premises, is a charac- 
teristic of the Russian temperament. 

Having once clearly put the question to himself, Tol- 
stoy set out to solve it. He asked a solution of science, 
but science could give no answer to his great and fun- 
damental question; it was either vague and equivocal 
or else contemptuous: 

If you turn to the group of sciences that tries to give 
solutions to the questions of life, to physiology, psychology, 
biology, sociology, then you encounter a startling poverty of 
thought, the most extreme obscurity, an utterly unjustified 
pretense at solving irrelevant questions, and constant contradic- 
tions of one thinker with another and even with himself. 
If you turn to the group of sciences that do not undertake the 


solution of questions of life, but answer their own special 
scientific questions, then you are enraptured with the might 
of the human mind, but you know in advance that there are no 
answers to questions of life. These sciences frankly ignore the 
question of life. They say: " To the query what you are and 
why you live, we have no answers, and that is not our line; but 
now if you want to know the laws of light, of chemical com- 
pounds, the laws of the development of organisms; . . .if 
you want to know the laws of your own mind, then for 
all that we have clear, exact, and indubitable answers." 
— [Ch. 5.] 

Tolstoy's question, and his failure to receive a reply, 
were the same as those of the Persian Omar: 

Myself when young did eagerly frequent 
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument 

About it and about : but evermore 
Came out by the same door where in I went. 

With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow, 

And with my own hand wrought to make it grow; 

And this was all the Harvest that I reap'd — 
"I came like Water, and like Wind I go." 

Up from Earth's Center through the Seventh Gate 
I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate, 

And many a Knot unravell'd by the Road; 
But not the Master-knot of human Fate. 

There was the Door to which I found no Key; 
There was the Veil through which I could not see: 


Some little talk awhile of Me and Thee 
There was — and then no more of — Thee and Me. 

Earth could not answer; nor the Seas that mourn 
In flowing Purple, of their Lord forlorn; 

Nor rolling Heaven, with all his Signs revealed 
And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn. 

And the plain prose of the modern realist expresses the 
tragedy of the situation as vividly as the poetry of the 
Persian sceptic and his translator. 

Doubtful of his own powers, Tolstoy wondered whether 
the wise men of other times and nations had been per- 
plexed by the same problem, and whether they had 
perchance been able to solve it. And he inquired of 
Socrates, the wisest man of ancient Greece, of Solomon 
(or whoever wrote the book of Ecclesiastes),* the repre- 
sentative of ancient Hebrew wisdom, of Buddha, the 
sage of ancient India, and of Schopenhauer, the greatest 
philosopher of modern Germany. In each case the 
reply was the same: life here on earth is evil and futile; 
death is better than life; the problem of existence is to 
find an escape from existence. Tolstoy was convinced 
that his reasoning had been correct; that there was no 
answer to his query. 

But an escape from this reasoning might perhaps be 
found in the actual experience of the mass of humanity. 

*Yet, curiously enough, in 1879 Tolstoy wrote to Fet of Ecclesiastes 
as a new book, which he had just read (Biryukov : II, 333). In his 
Confession he may have confused dates. 


Hence Tolstoy began to trace the paths by which his 
every-day companions escaped from the dilemma that 
tortured him: 

I found that for men of my circle there are four ways out 
from the awful position in which we are all placed. The first 
way out is that of ignorance. It consists in not knowing, not 
understanding the fact that life is evil and meaningless. People 
of this class — mostly women or very young or very stupid 
persons — have not yet understood the question of life that 
rose before Schopenhauer, Solomon, and Buddha. — [Ch. 7.] 

The second way out is through Epicureanism. Seeing 
that life is evil and meaningless, men say: "Let us eat, 
drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Let us for- 
get the fundamental misery of life in its fleeting pleas- 
ures." Such was the way out chosen by Solomon and 
by the majority of Tolstoy's associates. And such, we 
may add, was that of Omar Khayyam: 

Then to the Lip of this poor earthern Urn 
I lean'd, the Secret of my Life to learn: 

And Lip to Lip it murmur 'd — "While you live, 
Drink! — for, once dead, you never shall return." 

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend, 
Before we too into the Dust descend; 

Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie, 
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and — sans End! 

Tolstoy's comment is decisive, though not perfectly 
just: "The dulness of the imagination of these people 
gives them the possibility of forgetting that which gave 


no peace to Buddha, the inevitability of disease, old 
age, and death, which today or tomorrow will destroy 
all these pleasures. . . . These people I could not imitate; 
not having their dulness of imagination, I could not 
artificially produce it in myself." 

The third class of people are brave and honest : seeing 
the futility of life, they kill themselves. (It must be 
remembered that at this time Tolstoy had no faith in a 
life after death.) "I saw that this was the most worthy 
way out, and I wished so to act." 

The fourth way out is that of weakness. It consists in this, 
that, understanding the evil and the senselessness of life, men 
continue to drag it on, knowing in advance that nothing can come 
of it. . . . This is the way out characteristic of weakness, for 
if I know something better, and it is in my power, why should I 
not give myself up to that which is better? ... I belonged to 
that class of people. — [Ch. 7.] 

Reason had convinced Tolstoy of the necessity and 
duty of suicide, and yet he was restrained by a dim con- 
sciousness of a mistake in his reasoning; by a certain 
consciousness of life working in opposition to his reason. 
This new force suddenly made him see that his reason- 
ing had been based exclusively on the lives of wealthy, 
educated men, on Buddha, Schopenhauer, and his own 
circle, and that he had overlooked the immense major- 
ity of mankind, the real working class: 

I felt that if I wished to live and to understand the meaning 
of life, then I must seek this meaning, of course, not among 


those who had lost the meaning of life and wished to kill them- 
selves, but among those billions of men who had lived and who 
were still living, who worked and who bore upon their shoulders 
both their life and our own. And I glanced at the immense 
masses of simple, unlearned, and poor people who had lived 
and were still living, and I saw something quite different. I 
saw that all these billions of people who had lived and were 
still living, all, with rare exceptions, failed to fit into my classi- 
fication. I could not admit that they did not understand the 
question, because they put it themselves and answer it with 
extraordinary clearness. Neither could I admit that they were 
Epicureans, because their life is composed rather of priva- 
tions and sufferings than of enjoyments. Still less could I 
admit that they irrationally lived to the end of a meaningless 
life, because they give a clear explanation to every act of their 
lives and to death itself. And to kill themselves they regard 
as the greatest of evils. It turned out that all humanity had a 
sort of knowledge of the meaning of fife which I failed to 
recognize and which I despised. The result was that rational 
knowledge gave no meaning to life and excluded life; but the 
meaning given to life by billions of men, by all humanity, 
rested on a sort of contemptible false knowledge. 

Rational knowledge in the person of the learned and the 
wise denies the meaning of life, but the immense masses of 
men, all humanity, recognize this meaning in irrational knowl- 
edge. And that irrational knowledge is faith, the very faith 
that I could not help rejecting. That meant God in one 
and three; it meant the creation in six days, the devils 
and angels and all that which I could not accept until I should 
go mad. 

My position was frightful. I knew that I should find nothing 
on the path of rational knowledge except the denial of life, 


and in faith nothing but the denial of reason, which is still 
more impossible than the denial of life. — [Ch. 8.] 

Tolstoy's next step was to see that his original ques- 
tion had been wrongly put, that he had inquired what 
was the extra-temporal, extra-spatial, extra-causal mean- 
ing of life, and that he had received the answer that life 
had no temporal, spatial, or casual meaning. The 
solution to his problem must be given by faith, by a 
faith that will connect man's finite life with an infinite 
God. Prepared then to accept any faith which should 
not directly contradict reason, Tolstoy now turned to 
the study of religion; he studied Buddhism and Moham- 
medanism from books, and Christianity both from books 
and from the lives of the people around him. From 
cultivated believers he could learn nothing: their faith 
was not real faith, but merely one of the Epicurean 
solaces of life; it made no practical difference in their con- 
duct. But the faith of the working classes, though it was 
outwardly the same as that of the wealthy, and though 
it was blended with much superstition, was intimately 
connected with their daily life, was in fact a necessary 
condition of it. It made them, in contrast with the 
upper classes, work hard, bear privations patiently, 
meet death without terror or despair: 

And I came to love these people. The more I penetrated 
into their lives, into the lives of those still living and into 
the lives of those who had died, but of whom I had read and 
heard, the more I loved them and the easier it became for 


me myself to live. I lived thus for some two years, and in me 
a transformation came to pass that had long been preparing 
within me and the germs of which had always been in me. It 
came to pass that the life of our circle, of the rich and the 
learned, not only became repugnant to me, but lost all meaning. 
All our acts, our reasonings, our sciences and arts — all this rose 
before me with a new significance. I came to understand 
that all this was mere pampering of the appetites and that it 
was impossible to seek meaning in it. But the life of all the 
toiling folk, of all humanity which was creating life, rose 
before me in its true significance. I came to understand that 
this is life itself, and that the meaning given to this life is 
truth, and I accepted it. — [Ch. 10.] 

Thus Tolstoy returned to faith not through any pro- 
cess of reasoning, but through contact with the masses 
of the people and through the infectiousness of their 
point of view. 

Having rejected reason once, Tolstoy could do so 
many times; he had attained the sincerely clerical point 
of view: 

But with this meaning of the popular faith there is in- 
separably connected among our unsectarian folk, in the midst 
of whom I lived, much that repelled me and seemed to me inex- 
plicable; the sacraments, the church services, the fasts, the 
worship of relics and sacred pictures. The people cannot 
divide one from the other, and neither could I. However 
strange to me was much of what formed part of the popular 
faith, I accepted it all; I went to the services, prayed in the 
morning and in the evening, fasted, prepared for communion — 
and at first my reason did not oppose any of this. The very 


thing that before had seemed to me impossible now aroused 
in me no opposition. — [Ch. 13.] 

This point of view is that adopted by Levin in the last 
chapter of Anna Karenin, when he reflects: "I am willy- 
nilly united with other men into one company of be- 
lievers, which is called a church." 

But there was a point beyond which Tolstoy could 
not strain his reason; the reception of the communion 
was a hard task: 

I shall never forget the feeling of torture that I experienced 
on the day when I took the communion for the first time 
after many years. . . . The communion itself I explained 
as an act performed in memory of Christ and signifying puri- 
fication from sin and full acceptance of the teaching of Christ. 
Even if this explanation was artificial, I did not notice its 
artificiality. It was so joyous for me, humiliating and abasing 
myself before the confessor, a simple, timid priest, to turn out 
all the filth of my soul, repenting of my vices; it was so joyous 
to merge in thought with the humility of the fathers, who 
wrote the prayers of the rules; so joyous was the union with 
all who have believed and do believe, that I did not feel the 
artificiality of my explanation. But when I came up to the 
royal doors, and the priest made me repeat what I believed, 
that what I was going to swallow was the true body and blood, 
then I was cut to the heart: this was more than a false note; 
this was the cruel demand of some one who evidently had 
never even known what faith is. . . . Knowing in advance 
what awaited me I could not go there a second time. 
— [Ch. 14.] 


Yet Tolstoy was finally turned away from the church 
not by rational objections to its doctrines but by moral 
objections to its practices. He was shocked by its ex- 
clusiveness, by its denunciation of Catholics, Protes- 
tants, and Russian sectarians and dissenters as people 
living in spiritual darkness. This was indeed opposed 
to the Christian precept of brotherly love. On the pre- 
tence of preserving in all its purity the Greco-Russian 
Orthodox faith, the church was merely seeking the best 
means of performing in the sight of men certain human 
obligations [the sacraments]. Worse than this was the 
church's attitude towards war, and in particular towards 
the war between Russia and Turkey of 1877-78; and 
towards capital punishment, and in particular towards 
the execution of certain revolutionary agitators in the 
times immediately following this war: 

At that time war occurred in Russia. And the Russians 
began in the name of Christian love to kill their brothers. 
Not to think of this was impossible. Not to see that murder 
is an evil opposed to the very first foundations of every re- 
ligion was impossible. And at the same time in the churches 
they prayed for the success of our arms, and the teachers of 
religion recognized this murder as an act resulting from re- 
ligion. And not only these murders in war — but during the 
disorders that followed the war I saw officials of the church, 
its teachers, monks and ascetics, who approved the murder of 
erring and helpless young men. And I turned my attention 
to all that is done by men who profess Christianity, and I 
was horrified. — [Ch. 15.] 


Thus Tolstoy became convinced that in the faith 
which he had accepted false elements were mingled with 
truth. In 1878, after three years of faithful adherence 
to the church, he abandoned it forever, and set himself 
to the task of separating the central elements of truth 
in the Christian teaching from the dirt and filth with 
which it was defiled in the church's presentation of it. 
This he sought to do first negatively, by the examination 
and criticism of a manual of theology recommended by 
the church, and second positively, by a similar study 
of the Gospels, which he felt must contain the essential 
teaching of Christ. 

Before proceeding to an examination of Tolstoy's relig- 
ious and ethical system as he developed it in the works 
that sprang immediately from his conversion, we may 
pause a moment to consider the causes of that conversion. 

Nothing is more obvious than the intimate connec- 
tion of the conversion with the concrete facts of Tol- 
stoy's life. His whole doctrine he derived primarily 
from his own experience, and only secondarily from the 
study of other thinkers. His conversion, as he himself 
expounds it, sprang from his own dichotomy of the 
world into two classes, the idle and sceptical rich and the 
industrious and believing poor. These two classes he 
represents as almost mutually exclusive. But such a 
dichotomy has no basis in reality, not even in Russian 
reality, not even in Russian reality as portrayed by 
Tolstoy in his works of art. Idle men may be found 
among the poor, and industrious men among the rich, 


even in Russia. Tolstoy is blinded to this fact by his 
refusal to regard intellectual work as anything but 
Epicurean relaxation, or at best as a pretence at real 
work, a mere self-delusion. Karenin in Tolstoy's novel 
is probably busy with his tasks, if we average all the 
days of the year, more hours than even an exceptionally 
industrious peasant. That some of the documents that 
he writes lead to no result should not be laid up against 
him; even so some of the peasant's fields may be 
trampled by horses or ruined by droughts: Karenin and 
the peasant have each done their best. Kitty under- 
stands the meaning of life for which Levin searches in 
vain,* yet by Tolstoy's later theory she belongs in the 
first or ignorant class rather than in the fifth, of the true 
believers. Nor even at this period can Tolstoy in his 
more discreet moments have believed in the universal 
power of faith among the peasantry; types of character 
such as he pictured later in The Power of Darkness can- 
not have escaped his attention. Tolstoy has seen peas- 
ants such as Karatayev and rich men such as Anatole 
Kuragin or (not to be unfair) such as Vronsky, and from 
them makes a viciously simple generalization. Only a 
year or two later he has shifted his point of view, and 
proclaims that, far from the church's being a moral in- 
spiration to all its humble followers, any peasant, when 
once the moral sentiment is awakened within him, turns 
from it to one of the dissenting bodies. f To establish a 

* Anna Karenin: part v, ch. 19. 

f Critique of Dogmatic Theology (Conclusion): see p. 226. 


dichotomy like Tolstoy's as a basis for religious life in 
America would be yet more futile. 

Tolstoy is not disturbed by his own scepticism with 
regard to God, but by his own conviction of the mean- 
inglessness of life. The existence of God, Kant has satis- 
fied him, cannot be proved by the argument from cause; 
hence the pessimistic outcome of all reasoning as to the 
causal, temporal, spatial universe. He becomes satis- 
fied of the existence of God through his awakened moral 
sense. One may suspect that he was influenced here — 
though in his Confession (ch. 12) he seems to imply the 
contrary — by Kant's doctrine of the immanent, un- 
derived moral sense, and the proof of God from it. His 
divining of God's existence through human need of it 
is valid if this part of Kant's doctrine is valid; it falls 
to the ground with it. For Kant's reasoning again rests 
on a dichotomy between feeling and intellect that can- 
not be accepted; the moral sense is no more indepen- 
dent of time, space, and causality than is the intellect. 
Once having become convinced of God's existence, Tol- 
stoy does not reason upon it, for reasoning, he feels, 
simply removes him from God. Laying aside any at- 
tempt at theology, and paying small attention to meta- 
physics, he devotes his energy to constructing a system 
of practical ethics, and to applying that system to the 
solution of social questions. On pragmatic grounds he 
may be justified in his rejection of a strictly logical 
foundation for his system. Tolstoy's system can be 
justified, if at all, only by the contention that it works 


well in actual practice: it is not a strictly logical system 
of philosophy, nor a system of social ethics, developed 
by observation of the world about him, but a religious 
system of personal morality, founded on man's instinc- 
tive moral sense and having as its aim the guidance 
of his practical life. 

On the development of this religious system Tolstoy 
labored with whole-souled devotion. Beginning work 
towards the close of 1879, by the end of 1881 he had pro- 
duced his Critique of Dogmatic Theology and his Harmony 
and Translation of the Four Gospels. In his preface to 
the Harmony he speaks of the "concentrated, continually 
ecstatic spiritual tension that I experienced in the course 
of all this long work." A tutor in his household, Vasily 
Ivanovich Alekseyev, a former revolutionist, made an 
abridgment of the Harmony, which, with some revision 
by Tolstoy himself, was published under the title, A Short 
Exposition of the Gospel. In 1883 Tolstoy composed a 
summary of his creed, in half -autobiographical form, 
to which he gave the name My Religion. The doctrine 
contained in these books forms a single system, that 
by which most readers the world over have judged 
Tolstoy's thought. They too often forget that this 
system is not consistent either with Tolstoy's view of 
life in his earlier period, when he wrote his great novels, 
nor with some of his teachings in his latest years, after 
the composition of My Religion. During the years of 
storm and stress which we have just reviewed, in the 


course of which he threw off his former caste prejudices 
and became a lover of all humanity, Tolstoy developed a 
system of thought that seemed to him consistent as well 
as convincing. But in truth it still contained elements 
of compromise. As he grew older Tolstoy became more 
rigidly consistent in his point of view and rejected posi- 
tions that he had previously maintained with stirring 

The Critique of Dogmatic Theology is the least interest- 
ing of all Tolstoy's writings. Tolstoy takes a manual 
of dogmatic theology by Makary, Metropolitan of Mos- 
cow, and proceeds to analyze its doctrines, following its 
arrangement from chapter to chapter. He is thus busy 
with theology, in which he has small interest, instead of 
with ethics, on which he writes with understanding and 
fervor, and he is engaged in mere destruction instead of 
in building up a system of his own. The theology of the 
Russian Orthodox Church differs only in details from 
that of the Roman Catholics or from that of evangelical 
Protestants : there are the same teachings of the Trinity, 
the miraculous birth of Christ, his taking upon himself 
the sins of the world, his redemption of mankind and 
resurrection, and of salvation by faith in him. Against 
all this Tolstoy tilts with a crusader's fury. He will make 
an impression upon but few readers. To some he will 
seem to be attacking doctrines that have utterly lost 
their hold on thinking men, and which should be passed 
over with silent contempt or studied as relics of a bygone 
stage of thought, like the Homeric theology; to others 


he will seem a blasphemous foe of a great church, which 
preserves intact a body of doctrine that needs only- 
spiritual interpretation in order to guide men today as 
it has done for nearly two thousand years. In the ardor 
of his invective one misses the concrete illustrations, the 
shrewd humor, the direct connection with actual life 
that make Tolstoy's other didactic writings so powerful. 
But in his Conclusion Tolstoy rises to sudden eloquence : 

I remember when I did not yet doubt the teaching of the 
church and was reading the Gospel, the words: "Blasphemy 
against the Son of Man shall be forgiven you, but blasphemy 
against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven, neither in this 
world, neither in the world to come"* — I could in no way un- 
derstand those words. 

Now they, those words, are too terribly clear to me. Here 
it is, that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not 
be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to 

That blasphemy is the horrible teaching of the church, the 
foundation of which is the teaching about the church. 

The Orthodox Church? 

I can now connect with this word no other concept than 
that of several unshorn men, very self-confident, deluded, 
and ill-educated, in silk and velvet, with diamond panagias, 
called bishops and metropolitans, and thousands of other un- 
shorn men, who are in the most crude, slavish servility to these 
dozens of men, and who are occupied, under the pretext of 
performing certain sacraments, in cheating and fleecing the 
people. How can I believe in this church, and believe in it 
* Loosely quoted from Matthew xii, 31, 32. 


when to the deepest questions of man about his soul it replies 
with pitiable deceptions and stupidities, and moreover main- 
tains that no one must dare reply otherwise to those questions, 
that in all that forms the most precious part of my life I must 
not dare be guided by anything else than by what it points 
out? The color of my trousers I may choose, my wife I may 
choose according to my taste, but as to the rest, the very 
thing in which I feel myself a man, as to all that I must take 
counsel of them, of those idle, deceiving and ignorant men. 
In my life, in the sanctuary of my soul, my guide is a pastor, 
my parish priest, a befooled, illiterate lad discharged from 
the seminary, Or a drunken old man whose only care is to 
gather in as many eggs and kopeks as he can. They bid that 
in prayer the deacon should half the time shout "many years" 
for the orthodox, pious harlot Catherine II, or for the most 
pious Peter, the robber and murderer, who mocked at the 
Gospel, and I must pray thus. They bid me curse and burn 
and hang my brothers, and I must follow their example in 
shouting anathema. These people bid me regard my brothers 
as accursed, and I must shout anathema. They bid me come 
drink wine from a spoon and swear that it is not wine but the 
body and the blood, and I must do so. 

But this is horrible! 

It would be horrible if it were possible. But in fact it does 
not occur, but not because they have weakened in their de- 
mands: they still yell anathema at whom they are bidden to, 
and "many years" at whom they are likewise bidden to — but 
in fact for a long, long time nobody has been heeding them. 

We, experienced and educated people (I remember my thirty 
years outside the faith), do not even despise them; we simply 
pay no attention to them, do not even have the curiosity to 
know what they are doing and writing and saying. A priest 


has come — give him half a ruble. A church has been built for 
vanity's sake — consecrate it, call in a long-maned arch-priest, 
and give him a hundred. The common people pay still less 
attention to them. In the week before Lent we must eat 
pancakes, and in Passion Week prepare for Communion; but 
if a question of the soul arises for us we resort to wise and 
learned thinkers, to their books, or to the lives of the saints, 
but not to the priests; and the men of the people, as soon as 
religious feeling is awakened within them, join the dissenters, 
the Stundists, or the Molokane. So that the priests have 
long since been performing the service for themselves, and for 
feeble-minded folk, rascals, and women. Evidently they will 
soon be instructing in life only one another. 

One can understand that the Russian Church, once 
Tolstoy's teaching had become famous, could hardly 
do otherwise than publicly proclaim him no longer a 
member of its flock. It is a wonder that it took that 
action only in 1901. 

This book was the last which the Countess Tolstoy 
copied for her husband.* Her influence was always 
exerted towards modifying his more drastic expressions, 
and in the first edition of the Critique the final para- 
graphs quoted above do not appear; they are printed 
in the edition published by Chertkov in England in 1903. 
Beginning with the Confession, nearly all of Tolstoy's 
religious and moral writings were prohibited in Russia 
by the censorship, and were issued in Switzerland, 
England, and Germany. 

* Ksyunin, The Departure of Tolstoy (St. Petersburg, 1911), p. 88. 


From the Critique one turns with a certain relief to 
the Harmony and Translation of the Four Gospels. Now 
that he has refuted the false doctrines of the church, 
Tolstoy seeks to learn in what the true teaching of Jesus 
consists. He studies the Greek text of the Gospels in 
the spirit of a Protestant theologian, making a revised 
translation, seeking to explain inconsistencies, and cast- 
ing aside as interpolations passages that contradict the 
spirit of Christ. The Greek text, the Russian accepted 
version, and Tolstoy's own rendering are printed in 
parallel columns, after which follows Tolstoy's commen- 
tary, with frequent quotations from other interpreters 
and refutation of them. 

Tolstoy's attitude towards the Gospels is logically 
indefensible. His doctrine of the deity is so vague that 
he cannot be regarded as believing in a personal God. 
Later, in his Journal for July, 1896, he wrote directly: 
"I even know as a matter of fact that He is not personal, 
because the personal is finite and God is infinite." * 
Towards Christ he takes a position like that of Unita- 
rians or agnostics : Christ was for him a man like other 
men, a great teacher of religion. He never says directly 
that Jesus was inspired or infallible, and yet he assumes 
for his teaching an infallibility that he does not assert. 
When he has once determined to his own satisfaction 
the original teaching of Jesus, he accepts it with reverent 
faith. Taking as his foundation the simplest and most 

* The Journal of Leo Tolstoy, 1895-1899, translated by Strunsky 
(New York, 1917) : p. 67. 


intelligible portions of the text, he interprets the rest 
in accord with them. Passages that seem to him false 
or hopelessly obscure he either rejects as interpolations 
or boldly alters, sometimes, though not always, fortify- 
ing himself by the comparison of manuscripts or by 
the use of the lexicon. All the miracles, including the 
crowning miracle of the resurrection, he casts aside as 
useless and injurious to the correct understanding of the 
teaching. The falsity of the story of the resurrection, 
he tells us, is shown by the fact that the narrators could 
not make Christ say anything worth while after he rose 
from the dead. The truth of the narrative of his life 
is attested by the words of his message.* This is the 
Protestant attitude run mad, individual liberty of in- 
terpretation carried to its farthest extreme, while still 
the dogma of infallibility lurks in the background. A 
scientific critic will seek to determine the real teaching 
of the Gospels, feeling at liberty to reject it when he 
has found it. In contrast to this, Tolstoy's method re- 
sults in the development of his own thought rather 
than in the discovery of the true teaching of Jesus. 

The origin of Tolstoy's attitude is obvious. Certain 
parts of the Gospels have appealed to him from his 
childhood, as utterances of the deepest truth, corre- 
sponding to his own heartfelt demands. Confronted by 
the soul problem before him, he feels that thorough study 
of the book containing these utterances will yield him 
fuller comprehension of them. But he fails to see that 
* Harmony, ch. 12. 


his study is really throwing light on his own system, 
and only secondarily on that of the Gospels. From 
one point of view his book is the product of misdirected 
energy; from another it is a monument of keen intel- 
lectual labor, in which we see the processes that led to 
the building of a great religious classic in My Religion. 

Two examples of Tolstoy's methods of interpretation 
must suffice. Tolstoy's fundamental problem, as stated 
in his Confession, has been to find an explanation of the 
riddle of life; some faith that will give a meaning to his 
futile existence. The author of the Fourth Gospel has 
understood his difficulty. For the opening words of 
that Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the 
Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same 
was in the beginning with God" — become in Tolstoy's 
version: "The understanding of life became the be- 
ginning [or, first principle] of all. And the understanding 
of life took the place of God. And this understand- 
ing of life became God. It became the beginning of all 
in place of God." God is a concept infinitely above 
man's comprehension, and is replaced for him by a true 
knowledge of life. Surely the unhistorical and personal 
interpretation of scripture can go no farther than this! 
Biblical scholars may have a right to scornful laughter. 
And yet there is something winning and pathetic, even 
inspiring, in Tolstoy's struggles with a mystic text 
which he forces to correspond with his own spiritual 

Jesus said to men, "Love your enemies," 'Aya-rrare rovg 


exQpovg v/iwr. In Greek there are two words for en- 
emy, one meaning a public foe and the other a per- 
sonal enemy; the latter is used in this case. The 
saying has been generally interpreted as a command to 
have no hostile feelings, to love men who do evil to us. 
But the literal-minded Tolstoy exclaims (in My Religion, 
ch. 6): "To love one's enemies? This was something 
impossible. This was one of those fine sayings which 
cannot be regarded otherwise than as an indication of 
an unattainable moral ideal. This was either too much 
or nothing at all. It is possible not to injure one's 
enemy, but to love him is impossible." Christ could not 
have prescribed the impossible. The escape is obvious; 
the enemy meant in the text is a public enemy, a man 
of another race. One should love all men alike, making 
no difference between Russians and French, English, or 
Germans. To such an ideal Tolstoy felt that he might 
attain; hence he made no comment on the philological 
objections to his interpretation. Characteristically 
enough, Tolstoy abandoned this position with advancing 
years. In March, 1891, he wrote in a private letter 
(to Rakhmanov): "Do not think that I defend my 
former point of view, expressed in My Religion. I not 
only do not defend it, but I rejoice that we have out- 
lived it."* He now tells us that one element of per- 
fection is to have no enemies — the conventional inter- 
pretation of the passage — and doing good to one's enemies 
is one stage of progress towards it. 

*Letters collected by Sergeyenko (Moscow, 1910) : vol. I, p. 200, 


Similarly Tolstoy came to see that the truth of his 
own doctrine was in no way dependent on the historical 
existence of Jesus. As early as 1882 he wrote: "It now 
seems to me that if Christ and his teaching had never 
existed, I should myself have discovered this truth, so 
clear and simple does it now appear to me."* He wrote 
to Biryukov, in 1899, [that the supposition that Christ 
never existed was "like the destruction of the last 
outskirts opposed to the enemies' attack, in order that 
the fortress (the moral teaching of goodness, which 
flows, not from any one source in time or space, but 
from the whole spiritual life of humanity in its entirety) 
may remain impregnable."f In 1909 he speaks with 
assurance : 

The teaching of Jesus is for me only one of the beautiful 
religious teachings that we have received from Egyptian, 
Jewish, Hindu, Chinese, and Greek antiquity. The two great 
principles of Jesus : the love of God, that is to say of absolute 
perfection; and the love of one's neighbor, that is to say of all 
men without any distinction whatever, have been preached 
by all the sages of the world: Krishna, Buddha, Lao-tsze, 
Confucius, Socrates, Plato, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, 
and, among the moderns, Rousseau, Pascal, Kant, Emerson, 
Channing, and many others. Religious and moral truth is 
always and everywhere the same. ... I have no predilec- 
tion for Christianity. If I have been particularly interested 
by the teachings of Jesus, it is because, first, I was born and 

* Letter to N. N.: On Non-Resistance to Evil by Evil. 
f Maude: Tolstoy and Bis Problems, p. 209; cf. Journal, tr. Strun- 
sky, p. 381. 


have lived among Christians; and, second, I have found 
great spiritual joy in separating the pure teaching from the 
surprising falsifications made by the churches.* 

In My Religion Tolstoy gives the results of his study 
of the Gospels in short, pithy form, with personal illus- 
trations that show the novelist's power. The system 
that he develops is simple on the side of theology, and 
almost equally so on that of ethics. 

Tolstoy's theology may be dismissed briefly. God 
Tolstoy never seeks to define; God exists, but is un- 
knowable except as the source of faith. More positive is 
Tolstoy's attitude on the second great dogma of Chris- 
tianity, one held so universally that it is felt by many 
to be synonymous with faith of any sort, the belief in 
immortality. This Tolstoy directly and emphatically 

The idea of a future personal life came to us not from the 
Hebrew teaching and not from the teaching of Christ. It en- 
tered into the church teaching from absolutely different 
sources. However strange it may appear, it is impossible not 
to say that the belief in a future life is a very low and crude 
conception, founded on a confusion of sleep with death, 
and peculiar to all savage peoples, and that the Hebrew 
teaching, not to speak of the Christian, stood immeasurably 
above it. We are so convinced that this superstition is some- 
thing very elevated, that with great seriousness we try to prove 
the superiority of our teaching over others by the very fact 

* Quoted by Rolland (ch. 10) from a letter to the painter Jan 
Styka, printed in Le Theosophe, Jan. 16, 1911, 


that we hold this superstition, while others, like the Chinese 
and the Indians, do not hold it. — [My Religion, ch. 8.] 

The true eternal life is that which each man receives 
through the understanding of life which is the beginning 
of all. "Christ contrasts with the personal life not the 
life beyond the grave, but the general life, connected 
with the present, past, and future life of all humanity — 
the life of the Son of Man."* "All the teaching of Jesus 
consists in this, that his disciples, understanding the 
phantasmal quality of the personal life, should renounce 
it and transfer it into the life of all humanity, into the 
life of the Son of Man. But the teaching of the immor- 
tality of the personal soul not only does not summon 
one to renounce his personal life, but forever confirms 
this personality."* " To all men is given the possibility 
of true life. He who wishes takes it; he who does not 
wish does not take it. He who receives true life has it; 
and it is not exactly the same for all, but to it there can- 
not be applied our concepts greater and smaller, earlier 
and later. It is outside the categories of space, time, 
and causality, they would say in philosophic language." f 
"The Kingdom of Heaven is outside time and space; it 
is within you, in your present life. "J For this life 
death has no meaning; it cannot be destroyed by carnal 
death. "For God there is no time; and therefore, 
uniting with God, man escapes from time, consequently 
from death."! 

*M y Religion, ch. 8. f Harmony, ch. 8. % Ibid., ch. 9. 


One may surmise that Tolstoy, unable to accept the 
popular doctrine of the future life, which he cannot 
justify by reason, builds up his own view on the basis 
of Kant's conception that the moral principle is inde- 
pendent of space and time. This view he later elabo- 
rated in his most important metaphysical book, On Life 
(1887), in which he strives to show the extra-spatial and 
extra-temporal nature of the regenerate life. His 
reasoning is not such as would be accepted by a Kantian; 
into it he blends elements that he probably derived from 
Plato.* His leading thought is of the dual nature of 
human life, which is divided into animal, carnal, per- 
sonal life on the one hand, and the life of reason on the 
other. The carnal, personal existence is not real life 
{On Life, ch. 8). "True life man knows within himself 
as a striving for the good, attainable by the subjection 
of his animal personality to the law of reason" (ch. 14). 
"Reason itself cannot be defined, and we have no need 
to define it, because we not only know it, but know 
nothing but reason" (ch. 10); that is, the foundation 
of the moral life is immediate, inborn knowledge. This 
rational life "is manifested in time and space, but is 
defined not by temporal and spatial conditions, but only 
by the degree of subjection of the animal personality 
to reason. To define life by temporal and spatial con- 
ditions is like defining the height of an object by its 

*The problem of Tolstoy's indebtedness to formal philosophy is 
important, and has not, so far as the writer knows, been discussed 
with any thoroughness. This book can do no more than indicate its 


length and breadth'' (ch. 14). "The renunciation of 
the good of personality is . . . the indispensable condition 
of the life of man" (ch. 15). Yet personality itself for a 
rational man is the indispensable condition of life. 
"One should not renounce personality, but renounce 
the good of personality and cease to recognize personal- 
ity as life" (ch. 21). No man's life vanishes through 
his corporeal death; it lives on in the memory of him, in 
his influence on other men. "My special relation to 
the world was established not in this life and began not 
with my body and not with a series of stages of conscious- 
ness in time " (ch. 28) . " Christ died very long ago, and his 
carnal existence was short, and we have no clear idea of his 
carnal personality, but the force of his rationally-loving 
life, his relation to the world — no one else's — acts till this 
very time on millions of men who receive into themselves 
this relation of his to the world and live by it" (ch. 31). 
This true meaning of life Tolstoy defends against the 
Pharisees and the Scribes, that is, against churchmen 
and materialistic scientists. The former 

profess in words the teachings of those enlighteners of hu- 
manity, in whose traditions they were educated; but, not 
understanding their rational sense, they turn these teachings 
into supernatural revelations of the past and future life of men 
and require only the performance of ceremonies. This is the 
teaching of the Pharisees in the broadest sense of the term, 
that is, of men who teach that a life in itself irrational may be 
set right by faith in another life, acquired by performance of 
external ceremonies. 


Others, not recognizing the possibility of any other life than 
the visible life, deny all marvels and all that is supernatural 
and boldly maintain that the life of man is naught else than 
his bodily existence from birth to death. This is the teach- 
ing of the Scribes, of men who teach that in the life of 
man as an animal there is nothing irrational. — [On Life, 
ch. 2.] 

Tolstoy's rejection of personal immortality was a 
passing phase of his thought, though a very important 
one. Before his religious conversion he had at least 
a flickering belief in it. In 1859 he had written to his 
cousin that during his life in the Caucasus (1851-53) he 
had "found out that immortality exists, that love exists, 
and that one must live for others in order to be eternally 
happy."* In 1865 he had again written to her: "I 
now know that I have a soul that is immortal (at least 
I often think that I know it), and I know that God 
exists." f And in his latest years he seems to have come 
to a firm faith in it. Passages in his Journal, from 
November, 1897, to February, 1898, show, to be sure, 
that he had not yet attained such a faith. J But in May, 
1898, he wrote to his wife: 

I rode home through Turgenev's wood. . . . And I thought, 
as I think continually, of death. And it became so clear 
to me that it will be just as good, though in a different way, 

* Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 131; compare p. 
16, above. 

f Ibid., p. 210. 

% The Journal of Leo Tolstoy, 1895-1899, translated by Strunsky 
(New York, 1917): pp. 168, 189, 205. 


on the other side of death, and I could understand why the 
Jews represented paradise as a garden. The purest joy is 
the joy of nature. It was clear to me that there it will be 
just as good — no, better. I tried to call forth in myself doubt of 
the other life, such as I used to have, and I could not as I 
could before, but I could call forth confidence within me. — 
[Letters to Wife, p. 545.] 

And in his Course of Reading, which he compiled in the 
last years of his life, he writes boldly: "Only he can 
disbelieve in immortality who has never seriously thought 
of death."* 

The vital part of Tolstoy's teaching is, however, not 
his theology or his metaphysics, but his ethics. Reading 
the Gospels, he discovered that the central doctrine of 
Christ was contained in the precept: "I say unto you, 
That ye resist not evil " (Matthew v, 39) . When he read 
the Sermon on the Mount with a Jewish rabbi, the rabbi 
could cite for all sayings of Jesus parallels in the Old 
Testament or in the Talmud. "But when we came to 
the verse about non-resistance to evil, he did not say, 
'This is also in the Talmud,' but only asked me with a 
sneer: 'And do the Christians observe this? Do they 
turn the other cheek?' I had nothing to reply, 
the more so since I knew that at this very time the 
Christians were not only not turning the cheek, but 
beating the Jews on the cheek turned towards 


This rejected teaching Tolstoy made the corner-stone 

* Course of Reading (Moscow, 1910) : 1, 117. f My Religion, ch. 2. 


of his edifice. Starting from it, he reduced the Sermon 
on the Mount to five commandments: 

1. Be not angry. Live in peace with all men; never 
regard your anger at men as just. 

2. Do not make for yourself a sport of the lust of 
sex relations: let every man have a wife, and the wife 
a husband; and let the husband have one wife, and the 
wife one husband. And under no pretext must they 
violate the carnal union with each other. 

3. Swear not at all. Never take oath to any man in 
any matter. Every oath is required from men for evil. 

4. Resist not evil by force. Do not reply to violence 
by violence: if they strike you, endure it; if they force 
you to work, work; if they wish to take from you what 
we regard as our own, give it up. 

5. Love all men alike, making no distinction of races 
and peoples; recognize neither kings nor kingdoms. 

Of these commandments the first pertains to man 
alone with himself in his heart; the second to his rela- 
tions with woman, to the family; the third to man in 
his private worldly relations with other men; the fourth 
to the relations of man to his own state and its laws; 
the fifth to his relations with all humanity, to men of 
other nations.* 

In these rules there is not at first sight anything 

startling; they are much like what each of us has learned 

at his mother's knee. The trouble comes in Tolstoy's 

drastic application of these principles, which he clearly 

* My Religion, ch. 6; Harmony, ch. 4. 


sees will destroy all human society as at present or- 
ganized. A man who will take no oaths, that is, who 
will not submit his will to that of another, who will 
not resist evil by force, and who loves all nations equal- 
ly, can obviously take no part in war, whether as officer 
or private. Just as obviously, he can take no part in 
the state administration, as judge or member of a jury. 
Furthermore, he can hold no property, since force is 
required to defend this from others: 

This faith has changed my estimate of what is good and 
what is bad and low. All that formerly seemed to me good 
and high — riches, property of every sort, honor, the con- 
sciousness of one's own dignity and rights — all this now has 
become bad and low; and all that seemed to me bad and low — 
work for others, poverty, humiliation, renunciation of all 
property and all rights — has become good and high in my eyes. 
If now in a moment of forgetfulness I may be so far carried 
away as to use violence for the defense of myself or others or 
of my own property or that of others, I can no longer calmly 
and consciously serve that temptation, which destroys my- 
self and other men. I cannot acquire property; I cannot use 
violence of any sort against any manner of man, with the 
exception of a child, and then only to save him from some 
evil that hangs over him; I cannot take part in any activity 
of the authorities having as its aim the defense of men and their 
property by violence; I can be neither a judge nor one sharing 
in court duties; I cannot be an executive or one sharing in an 
executive position; I cannot contribute to having others 
take part in courts and executive positions. — [My Religion, ch. 


Under Tolstoy's system a faithful Christian must 
become a beggar, a pious mendicant. Tolstoy sees this 
consequence with perfect clearness, stating in his Har- 
mony (ch. 4) that "only the beggar and the wanderer 
can enter into the Kingdom of God." This conclusion 
was in accord with the whole tendency of his religious 
thought. We have already noted in his first work, 
Childhood, his admiration for the half-witted pilgrim 
Grisha.* In a letter to Strakhov of 1877 he writes: 
"If I were alone, I should not be a monk, I should be a 
pious mendicant; that is, I should prize nothing in life 
and should do no one harm."f In his posthumous 
drama, The Light Shineth in Darkness, written in 1900- 
02, he makes his double Saryntsov exclaim, near the 
close of the play: "Humility, pious mendicancy. Yes, 
if I could only rise to it !" And his final flight from home, 
at the age of eighty-two, was beyond doubt an attempt 
to realize this ideal. 

In My Religion Tolstoy makes prominent this ideal 
of pious mendicancy, the same that inspired the friars 
of medieval times. But here, since he is no longer lay- 
ing down abstract principles, as in the Harmony, but a 
practical guide for daily life, he involuntarily introduces 
elements of compromise, pronouncing "work, physical 
work that gives appetite and sound, refreshing sleep," 
and the family, to be "undoubted conditions" of human 
happiness. t The same point of view, as we shall see 
later, will be emphasized in What Shall We Do Then? 
* Page 29, above. f Biryukov: II, 304. % My Religion, ch. 10. 


(1886). Now work is not the most prominent charac- 
teristic of pious mendicants, and family life is incon- 
sistent with their aims. The family ideal, one may say, 
represents a survival, a dearly loved survival, of Tol- 
stoy's worldly period, which at last he will be obliged 
to cast aside as inconsistent with his ascetic system. 

Thus the wealthy aristocrat Tolstoy has developed 
on the basis of the Gospels a system of ethics that is 
thoroughly anarchistic, destructive of all organized 
society. Regarding Christianity as fundamentally a 
simple code of moral rules, he pours out his scorn upon 
St. Paul, the first corrupter of Christianity, "who did 
not know the ethical teaching expressed in the Gospel 
of Matthew, and who preached a metaphysico-cabalistic 
theory foreign to Christ." The process of degeneration 
was completed in the time of Constantine, "when it 
was found possible to dress the whole heathen mode of 
life, without change, in Christian garments, and thereby 
recognize it as Christian."* So Tolstoy joins the group 
of fervent spirits who through the ages have denounced 
the donation of Constantine. 

Such is Tolstoy's religious and moral system. One 
is at once led to inquire how far his writings are of 
value as an exposition of the real teaching of Jesus, as 
embodied in the Gospels. However unscientific his 
method of study, his insight may of course have led him 
to correct results. In theology, the two great doctrines 
of the Gospels are that of the personal fatherhood of 
* My Religion, ch. 11. 


God, and that of personal immortality. The second of 
these Tolstoy rejects, exercising his utmost ingenuity in 
reading it out of the text; the first he accepts in a nerve- 
less, attenuated form, as the result of the moral teach- 
ing of Jesus rather than the source of it. 

But with Tolstoy's ethical system the case is different. 
Though he felt himself to be the discoverer and restorer 
of the true teaching of Jesus, Tolstoy was here treading 
on ground often trodden by other reformers. His 
teachings are similar in their essentials to those of the 
Bohemian Brethren in the fifteenth century, and of the 
English Quakers in the seventeenth, and, most impor- 
tant, to those of the Dukhobors and other Russian peas- 
ant sects in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 
We may even say that the wide acceptance of the doc- 
trine of non-resistance in Russia during the present 
crisis is probably due less to the influence of Tolstoy 
than to that of less famous teachers. To such ideas 
the Russian common folk lend a willing ear; and the 
Russian common folk, one cannot too often repeat, were 
a primary source of inspiration for Tolstoy. Further- 
more, all of the sects that have been mentioned, including 
the Russian, were inspired directly by the Gospels, the 
precepts of which their members endeavored to carry 
out in their daily lives. And the interpretation was in 
each case just. 

Whether the teaching of Jesus was itself a sound and 
final system of ethics is a different question. Let us 
listen to a modern biblical scholar, whose estimate of the 


nature of Jesus' teaching, if not of its universal validity, 
is the same as Tolstoy's: 

Broadly speaking, it may be said that there are two aspects 
of ethical teaching. The first is that with which in modern 
times we are so familiar, the teaching which says that the first 
thing a man has to do is to be a good citizen. This is the 
world-affirming ethic which says that this world as we have it 
is God's world. That is a perfectly true statement: We 
are put here to work, and if we scorn society, and do not do 
our fair share, we are shirking the responsibility which has 
been put upon our shoulders. Therefore it is our duty to take 
part in all such things as social, political, and national duties 
(which may not appeal to us very much in themselves), be- 
cause they are the things which we are put here to do. 

But there is also another kind of ethical teaching — the 
teaching which denies the world; which says that these 
social and national claims are doubtless valid, but there is 
something beyond them all, and a man is more than a good 
citizen. There are times when he has the right and the duty 
not to be hurrying about, and busily doing something, but 
rather to go aside and think about the meaning of life. There 
come times when he will not even be able to do his work in 
the world properly, if he do not throw aside the world altogether 
for a moment, and stand apart from the hurry and toil of life 
as it is now, to ask himself what he will do in the end thereof. 
This is the world-renouncing ethic which says that, although 
many possessions and wide interests enable a man not only to 
enjoy life, but also to do much good to other people, if he be 
not able at times to throw off all their claims he becomes the 
slave of his own surroundings. 

Stated in terms of modern life, it reminds us that although 


it be true that society, so far as we can see, is permanent, and 
that the world is not speedily coming to an end by means of 
some dramatic cataclysm, it is nevertheless true that we 
personally are coming to an end, so far as the world or society 
is concerned, within a period which, after all, cannot be so 
very long. And, stated in the terms of ancient Jewish life, 
it is this ethic which is presented most vividly and most 
strongly in just those parts of the New Testament which 
represent the teaching of Jesus when he and his hearers were 
looking at life under the influence of the eschatological expec- 

The effect of that expectation was to hide almost entirely 
the more obvious duties of a "world-affirming ethic" in 
daily life, but in the darkness thus induced some of the eternal 
lights shone out, as the stars during an eclipse, — [Kirsopp 
Lake, The Stewardship of Faith (New York: Putnam, 1915) 
pp. 37-40.] 

Jesus, like other Jews of his time, thought that the 
present state of the world was transitory, soon to pass 
away and to give place to the Kingdom of Heaven. 
Hence his teaching gave no place to state duties and 
taught primarily preparation for a better world to come; 
it was emphatically world-renouncing. This ethic, 
untenable as an all-including system, nevertheless puts 
in clearer light certain spiritual values that are apt to be 
smothered by our own complacent world-affirming 
ethic. Herein lies the great value of Tolstoy as a moral 
and social teacher, that he interprets the world-renounc- 
ing ethic of Jesus in terms of modern life. His pe- 
culiarity is that he upholds so powerfully this ethic while 


denying or neglecting the theological beliefs that lay 
back of it. With him a pessimistic emphasis on the ills 
of the present social world takes the place of confidence 
in a world to come; yet his emphasis on inward spiritual 
blessedness is the same as that of Jesus. 

That the Gospels were a source of Tolstoy's ethical 
system we may admit, and that his use of them was 
sound and logical. But whether they were the only 
source of his system, or even the real starting point of 
it, may be doubted. Tolstoy's developed system is in 
thorough accord with the temperamental tendencies 
that he had shown all through his life. Its roots may 
be defined as individualism, a dislike of civilization and 
a Rousseau-like passion for a return to nature, pessimism, 
asceticism, and — love. 

The intense individualism of Tolstoy's temperament, 
as shown both in his life and in his works of fiction, 
has already been amply emphasized. Tolstoy disliked 
public activity, resisted mass movements, instinctively 
swam against the stream. His philosophy of history 
in War and Peace has for its foundation the futility of 
outward effort, while he regards the perfecting of one's 
inward character as the true aim of man. So in his 
ethical system individual perfection, in whatever that 
may consist, is at first all with which he is concerned. 
Man must shape his conduct by the inward light that 
is given him and let the results take care of themselves. 
Church and state, Tolstoy sees, will be destroyed by the 


adoption of his teaching, but in church and state he is 
not interested. It is only later that, in What Shall We 
Do Then?, he formulates the new order of society to 
which his system will lead. 

Formerly Tolstoy had preferred barbarism to civiliza- 
tion (as in The Cossacks), or had glorified the life of 
toiling field laborers in opposition to that of luxurious 
aristocrats (as in Anna Karenin), because civilized lux- 
ury enfeebles man and makes difficult his struggle with 
nature.* His position was that of Rousseau: it is too 
late to destroy civilization; we must try to mitigate its 
ills while preserving its finer sides. Rousseau, and 
Tolstoy following him, had weighed the bad sides of 
modern culture against its benefits, and had deplored its 
rise. Rousseau had seen the inconsistency between 
patriotism and the Christianity of the Gospels: one 
cannot be a good Christian and a good soldier. But so 
convinced was he of the necessity for state organization 
that he banished Christianity from his ideal community 
and replaced it by a sort of official deism, with reverence 
for the laws as a cardinal doctrine. With this state 
religion individual Christianity must make its peace as 
best it may. Now, after his religious conversion, Tolstoy 
sees the same dilemma, and forthwith sacrifices the 
state, since it is necessarily inconsistent with Christianity; 
patriotism, which leads to violence and war, becomes a 
cardinal sin. Now he sees the chief evil of civilization 
in the fact that it forces a man to exploit the labor 
* Behrs: Reminiscences, ch, 6. 


of his fellow men, since without such exploitation riches 
and idle ease are impossible. 

Of his own despair and pessimism Tolstoy tells us 
eloquently in his Confession; we may judge of it in- 
directly by his long devotion to Schopenhauer. Yet 
Tolstoy's pessimism was after all superficial; it was a 
deepening of Rousseau's dislike for modern society, com- 
bined with personal discouragement at his own failure 
to solve the riddle of existence. But in his view of 
human nature Tolstoy was never a thorough pessimist; 
he never lost faith in the optimism of his earlier master 
Rousseau. Pessimism is a belief that the non-existence 
of the universe would be preferable to its existence. 
Such a belief steals into our minds as we read the novels 
of Hardy or the tales of Guy de Maupassant. The 
offence lies not in the portrayal of sin and shame, but 
in the denial of any possibility of improvement or in the 
negation of all standards of right and wrong. Tolstoy's 
joy in the beauty of the world, his delight in physical 
strength and vigor, and his confidence in the possibility 
of moral progress, exclude any such tone from his novels 
previous to his religious conversion. War and Peace 
and Anna Karenin are books wherein "all noble lords and 
ladies" "shall find many joyous and pleasant histories 
and noble and renowned acts of humanity, gentleness, 
and chivalry. For herein may be seen noble chivalry, 
courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love, friend- 
ship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, sin. Do after 
the good, and leave the evil, and it shall bring you to 


good fame and renommee."* And, unlike Malory, 
Tolstoy is so convincing in his picture of this checker- 
board world that "all noble lords and ladies" find them- 
selves constrained "to give faith and belief that all is 
true that is contained herein.' ' The vital force that 
saved Tolstoy from suicide kept his picture of the world 
from becoming black and despairing. 

In the artistic work that followed Tolstoy's religious 
conversion there is, as we shall see, a decided change of 
tone. The author's altered point of view shows in his 
darker picture of the world as at present organized, 
which indeed would better perish and pass away. When 
pessimism has lost its hold on his philosophy it becomes 
more prominent in his fiction. From The Death of Ivan 
Ilyich, The Power of Darkness, The Kreutzer Sonata, and 
Resurrection the former instinctive joy of life has van- 
ished, while the new gospel of love and hope is expressed 
only in a pale, ineffectual fashion. The artist and the 
preacher in Tolstoy never worked in perfect harmony. 

The ascetic element in Tolstoy's thought may be 
detected even in his earliest novels. Though Tolstoy 
instinctively admires beauty and strength, when he 
begins to reason on conduct he preaches self-sacrifice, 
self-abnegation, self-limitation; each of his heroes, 
Olenin, Pierre Bezukhov, Levin, struggles upward by 
a process that contains distinct ascetic elements, though 
it may also contain elements of a quite different sort. 
Now, in his Harmony of the Gospels, when he proclaims 
* Caxton's preface to Malory's Morte Darthur. 


that all property is a hindrance to the moral life, and 
bids men be beggars and vagrants, he expresses the 
ascetic ideal with perfect distinctness: 

Jesus Christ nowhere bids us give to the poor in order 
that the poor may be well fed and content; he says that 
one should give all to the poor in order that he himself may 
be happy. . . . He bids us give up property only in order 
that it may not be an obstacle to life; and afterwards, when 
a man gives up his propert\ r , he teaches that a man's 
happiness consists in pitying and loving men. — [Harmony, 
ch. 6.] 

Denial of the personal life, of the animal life of the 
body, is at the foundation of Tolstoy's religious system. 
The distinction that he makes between the monk and 
the pious mendicant is only one of external form; the 
monk and the mendicant follow the same aim, the 
salvation of their own souls, and by essentially the same 
means. In a letter to his wife (1898) he quotes 
with enthusiasm the following passage from a book 
that he has been reading: "Luxury and effeminacy 
hinder the soul from understanding itself. In the 
same way asceticism, the torturing of one's body, 
also hinders. In both cases man thinks of the body. 
But one must forget it."* Yet it is so obvious that 
sincere forgetfulness of the body is itself a form of 

Tolstoy himself always stoutly denied that his teaching 
* Letters to Wife, p. 559. 


was ascetic. The following passage, written in 1882, is 

Some men, seeing in the teaching of Christ a teaching 
about the salvation of the soul for the sake of a crudely con- 
ceived eternal life, have withdrawn from the world, taking 
pains only about what they should do for themselves, how 
they should perfect themselves in solitude — which would be 
ridiculous were it not pitiable. And terrible efforts have been 
wasted by these men — and there have been many of them — on 
what is impossible and stupid, on doing good for oneself in 
solitude, away from men. ... I love these people, but with 
all the strength of my soul I hate their teaching. . . . Truth 
is only in that teaching which points out an activity, a life, 
which satisfies the needs of the soul, and which is at the same 
time a constant activity for the good of others. — [Letter to 
N. N.: On Non-Resistance to Evil hy Evil.] 

All this means that the ascetic element in his teaching, 
which in time will become more prominent, is as yet 
overshadowed by his ideal of service, of universal love. 

If asceticism be related to the reflective, intellectual 
side of Tolstoy, his ideal of love springs from the warm, 
emotional element in his personality. From his childhood 
Tolstoy was a man of passionate nature, constant in his 
affection for his brothers and kinsfolk, and later on he 
was equally constant in his devotion to his wife and 
children. He was a steadfast friend to a few chosen 
persons both in his own circle and among the common 
people, though his decided opinions, and his pugnacious, 
uncompromising support of them, prevented him from 


having many intellectual intimates. His aristocratic 
prejudices also hindered him from extending his personal 
ties. Now, under the influence of the Gospels, his whole 
nature softened, and from being a haughty noble he 
became an open-hearted lover of all humanity, ready 
to receive each and every visitor and converse with him 
on questions of the soul. His kind heart led him to assist 
any peasant in misery, whether by personal toil or by 
gifts of the money that he despised. Logic would have 
made him see that if property, and money in particular, 
is a sin, then to force goods on others leads them into 
sin; his emotions restrained him from that logical conse- 
quence. His family affection made him erect the same 
ideal for other men; later his asceticism will force him 
to tear down his own edifice. 

In My Religion (1884) Tolstoy makes most prominent 
the negative side of his teaching, the five prohibitions. 
But in his Preface to Bondarev's Work, "On Labor for 
One's Daily Bread/ 9 written in the same year, he points 
out that "all Christ's positive teaching of truth is ex- 
pressed in one phrase, 'Love God and thy neighbor as 
thyself!'" The five prohibitions are merely sign- 
posts erected to show man where he is likely to stray 
from the true path. And in his work On Life (1887) he 
lays all emphasis on love, which springs from the re- 
nunciation of the animal personality: 

Not in consequence of love for father, for son, for wife, 
for friends, for good and dear people, as is ordinarily thought, 


do men renounce their personality, but only in consequence 
of a consciousness of the vanity of the existence of the per- 
sonality, of a consciousness of the impossibility of its good; 
and therefore in consequence of renunciation of the life of 
personality man recognizes true love and can truly love father, 
son, wife, children, and friends. 

Love is the preference of other creatures to himself — to his 
animal personality. . . . 

This condition is a condition of good will towards all men, 
which is present in children, but which in a grown man arises 
only on the renunciation of the good of personality and in- 
creases only in proportion to that renunciation. — [On Life, 
ch. 24.] 

True love is life itself.— [Ch. 25.] 

They say: "Disease, old age, senility, a decline into childish- 
ness are an annihilation of the consciousness and life of man." 
For what manner of man? I imagine to myself, according to 
the tradition, John the Evangelist, who declined from old 
age into childishness. He, according to the tradition, said 
only: "Brothers, love one another!" The hundred-year-old 
man, barely able to moye, with watering eyes, mumbles only 
these same monotonous three words, "Love one another!" In 
such a man the animal existence barely glimmers — it has been 
all consumed by a new relation to the world, by a new living 
creature, which no longer finds a place in the existence of the 
carnal man. — [Ch. 30.] 

In conclusion, it may be worth while to indicate very 
briefly the formal characteristics of Tolstoy's ethical 
system. Ethical theories may be divided into two 
types, jural and teleological : theories of the first sort 
regard conduct as obedience to a set of rules laid down 


by some authority; those of the second sort regard 
conduct as directed to a certain end, and inquire .what 
end is the most appropriate. The hedonists find that 
this end is pleasure, whether of the individual or of 
humanity as a whole, while the eudsemonists find it in 
the complete, harmonious development of all human 
powers and capacities. Such development may produce 
pleasure, but pleasure is not the aim of the development. 
On the other hand, some at least of the hedonists would 
maintain that pleasure demands as its tool (though 
not as an end in itself) the harmonious development 
that the eudsemonists regard as an end in itself. Thus 
the two types of teleological theory in their best forms 
meet on a common ground. 

Tolstoy's ethics are of the jural type. Like Kant, he 
regards conduct as obedience to an ideal of duty, an 
inborn moral sense, a categorical imperative imprinted 
on the soul of each individual man. This is the char- 
acteristic Puritan point of view, though the Puritan 
may regard conduct as laid down by an external deity 
rather than by man's inborn moral sense. Tolstoy gives 
the name reason to the source of moral conduct, and he 
may rightly be regarded, like Kant, as a rationalist. 

Every jural system of ethics may, however, be re- 
garded from a teleological side. The Jews presumably 
had a distinct idea of the purposes of the Lord in or- 
daining the decalogue. Here Tolstoy must be regarded, 
ridiculous as the term seems at first sight, as a hedonist; 
he has absolutely no points of contact with the character- 


istic Greek eudsemonism of Plato and Aristotle, with 
its ideal of the harmonious development of the human 
faculties. For asceticism is after all only a distorted 
and perverted type of hedonism, its aim being to gain 
pleasure in the next life, as with monks, or to ward off 
misery in this life, as with Schopenhauer and Tolstoy. 
And Tolstoy's theory of universal love and self-sacrificing 
service has as its aim the greater happiness of the mass 
of humanity; that is, it is a utilitarian hedonism. Each 
of these doctrines neglects the harmonious development 
of personality that was the aim of Greek eudsemonism 
and the method of the best Greek hedonism. As an 
ethical thinker no man was ever more un-Greek than 

Tolstoy has a further point of contact with Kant in his 
insistence on the universality of any principle of human 
conduct. He will have no division of humanity into 
monks and laymen such as came to pass both in Chris- 
tianity and Buddhism, where an ideal system of conduct 
was admitted to be beyond the reach of the mass of 
humanity. His ideal, he insists, may be attained by 
every man. 

But this formal classification of Tolstoy's system does 
it no justice. Tolstoy is primarily a preacher, a religious 
leader, not a philosopher. His great service, one should 
repeat again and again, is not the formulation of any 
consistent and valid system of ethics, but the powerful 
application to modern conditions of the world-renounc- 
ing ethics of Jesus. 


life: 1878-1910 

|OR five years (1878-83) Tolstoy was wholly 
absorbed in meditation and writing on re- 
ligious topics. He seemed to have abandoned 
forever his work as a novelist. Earnest 
and sincere, he felt the incongruity of his own life 
with the ideas and the ideals which he had formed 
and which he was now working out into a system. 
The new faith did not bring with it an entire change 
in his life, for the habits of fifty years were not to 
be laid aside suddenly like a garment. Its first effect 
was to bring on fits of depression and irritability. 
His son Uya tells of the altered atmosphere in the 

As a boy of twelve [1878], I felt that my father was getting 
more and more estranged from us, and that our interests were 
not merely indifferent to him, but actually alien and repulsive. 
He got gloomy and irritable, often quarreled with my mother 
about trifles, and from our former jovial and high-spirited ring- 
leader and companion was transformed before our eyes into 
a stern and censorious propagandist. His harsh denunciations 
of the aimless life of gentlefolk, of their gluttony, their in- 



dolence, and spoliation of the industrious working-classes, grew 
more and more frequent. . . . 

When I recall this period, I am filled with horror at the 
thought of what he must have been suffering mentally. When 
he utterly repudiated everything he had delighted in before, 
repudiated that patriarchal order of country-house life which 
he had lately described in his novels with such affection and 
which he had built up for himself, repudiated all his former 
interests, from war down to literary fame, family life and 
religion — how terribly his solitude must have weighed upon 
him! All the more terribly because it was the solitude of a 
man in the midst of a crowd of people with whom he had 
nothing in common. — [Reminiscences, pp. 261, 266.] 

His cousin the Countess Alexandra Tolstoy tells how 
he poured forth upon her, when she met him in Moscow 
in 1882, his derisive mockery of the church beliefs to 
which she was devoted: 

"I have no reply to make to you," I answered, "and will 
say only that, while you were speaking, I saw you contending 
with someone who is now standing behind your chair." 

He turned about quickly. "Who is that?" he almost 

"Lucifer in person, the incarnation of pride," I answered. 

He jumped from his seat, overwhelmed by this phrase; 
then he tried to calm himself and immediately added: 

"Certainly I am proud to have been the first who has at 
last laid his hand upon the truth." . . . 

In the evening I went to call on them and found the so 
recently infuriated Leo a meek lamb. Beside the numerous 
family, outsiders were present, and the conversation was 

LIFE: 1878-1910 257 

general; but Leo guided it with evident care that nothing 
unpleasant should touch me; he gazed at me with gentle 
eyes, as if asking forgiveness, and the whole evening paid 
attention to me with that enchanting kindness which is a 
distinctive trait of his beautiful nature. — [Reminiscences, in 
Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, pp. 29, 30.] 

An early result of Tolstoy's new faith was a letter to 
the young tsar Alexander III, begging him to give the 
world an example of Christian forgiveness by pardoning 
the assassins of his father. On March 13, 1881, Alex- 
ander II had been murdered on the streets of St. Peters- 
burg by a group of revolutionists who desired the trans- 
formation of Russia into a democratic state, organized on 
socialistic principles. Tolstoy's letter, full of eloquence, 
animated at once by a scorn of revolutionary violence 
and by the loyalty to the tsar that ran in Tolstoy's 
blood, reminds the new ruler that both severe repression 
and liberal concessions have failed to restore peace to 
Russia, and urges him now to adopt the one true path, 
that shown on men by Christ himself. The letter 
reached the tsar, but failed of its purpose. 

On October 10, 1883, Tolstoy made one modest step 
towards the realization of his teaching by refusing, on 
the ground of religious convictions, to serve on a jury, 
and paying the fine imposed on him. 

Property was the great stumbling-block when Tolstoy 
tried to apply his convictions to life. The recognition 
of private property as a sin and form of violence is 
fundamental in his religious system; it had probably 


been maturing in his mind long before his conversion. 
In 1861, as has been said, Tolstoy had met Proudhon in 
Brussels, and had presumably been impressed by his 
maxim: "La propriete — c'est le vol." In 1865 he 
made in his diary the following startling entry, which 
might have been written by one of the Russian Social 
Revolutionists : 

The problem of Russia in universal history consists in 
bringing into the world the idea of the communal organization 
of land property. 

"La propriete — c'est le vol" [property is theft] will re- 
main truer than the truth of the English constitution so 
long as the human race shall exist. This is an absolute truth, 
but there are also relative truths flowing from it — applica- 
tions. The first of these relative truths is the Russian people's 
view of property. The Russian people denies property of the 
most stable sort, that which is the most independent of toil, 
the property which more than any other cramps the right 
of other people to acquire property — namely, property in 
land. This is not a dream; it is a fact, expressed in tha com- 
munes of the peasants and the communes of the Cossacks. 
This truth is understood alike by the learned Russian and 
by the peasant, who says: "Let them enroll us as Cossacks 
and the land will be free." This idea has a future. The Rus- 
sian revolution can be founded only on this. The revolution 
will not be against the tsar and the despotism, but against land 
property. It will say: "Take from me, take and strip from 
man all that you wish, but leave us the land in its entirety." 
The autocracy does not hinder but aids that order of things. 

All this I saw in a dream on August 25. [Biryukov: II, 69.] 

LIFE: 1878-1910 259 

This passage is another illustration of the fact that 
Tolstoy's new faith merely gave new emphasis and a 
new logical foundation to ideas that were already latent 
in his mind. It is of interest in connection with the 
present revolution in Russia, which is striving to deal 
with the question of property in land. 

After his conversion Tolstoy was confronted with a 
dilemma. He could not live in luxury and be true to his 
principles; neither could he force his wife and children 
to abandon their accustomed way of life. The consistent 
solution would have been to abandon wife and children 
and go forth from home as a religious beggar, like so 
many thousands before him. For this choice Tolstoy 
frankly admitted that he had not the courage. Family 
life had saved him from dissoluteness and had long kept 
him from despair. His love of it, almost worship of it, 
persisted long after the formation of a religious ideal 
which, as he himself finally perceived, was fundamentally 
inconsistent with it. In May, 1881, he noted in his diary : 

The family is flesh. To abandon one's family is the second 
temptation — to kill oneself. The family is one body. But do 
not yield to the third temptation: serve not the family, but 
God alone. This is an indication of the place on the economic 
ladder that man should occupy. It is flesh; as for a weak 
stomach light food is necessary, so for a pampered family 
more is needed than for one wonted to privations. — [Biryukov: 
H, 381.] 

The change was gradual. In 1881 a letter to his 
wife shows him much interested in an edition of his 


works and very much alive to financial considerations.* 
In the next year a letter from the province of Samara 
shows him occupied with the practical success of his 
estate there, f Later on he simply neglected his prop- 
erty, trying to treat it as if it did not exist. A letter to 
his wife on November 5, 1884, shows him thoroughly 
dissatisfied with this course and resolved on a com- 

I have been thinking much and well about the fact that 
while we live and as we live I must conduct the estate myself. 
Begin at Yasnaya. I have a plan how to conduct it in ac- 
cord with my convictions. Perhaps this is hard, but I must 
do it. My general reasoning is as follows: to say nothing of 
the fact that if we take advantage of the conduct of business 
on principles (false) of private property, then we must, never- 
theless, conduct it in the best fashion in the sense of justice, 
harmlessness, and, if possible, of kindness. To say nothing 
of this, it has become clear to me, that if what I regard as 
truth and the law of men is really to become that law in life, 
then this will occur only if we, rich oppressors, shall volun- 
tarily renounce riches and oppression; and this will occur not 
suddenly, but by a slow process, which will lead to it. This 
process can occur only when we ourselves shall direct our 
own affairs, and, above all, enter into relations with the 
common people who work for us. I wish to try to do so. I 
wish to try with complete freedom, without violence, and in 
accordance with goodness, to conduct this business at Yasnaya 
myself. I think that there will be no great mistake or loss, 
perhaps none at all. And maybe it will be a good deed. I 
* Letters to Wife, p. 127. f IKd>* P- 136. 

LIFE: 1878-1910 2G1 

should like at a favorable moment, when you are listening, to 
tell you about it, but to describe it is hard. I think of beginning 
right off. To take over the whole thing from Mitrofan and 
arrange it, and during the winter to make occasional trips, 
and beginning with spring to occupy myself with it constantly. 
Perhaps here, unconsciously, I am bribed by a desire to be 
more frequently in the country, but I feel that my life has been 
ill ordered by this turning aside, this ignoring of work which 
was being done, and done for me, and which was absolutely 
contrary to my convictions. In this ignoring there was also 
the element that I, denying property on principle, in the sight 
of men, from fausse honte did not wish to occupy myself with 
property, in order that I might not be reproached with in- 
consistency. Now it seems to me that I have outgrown this. 
I know by my conscience just how consistent I am. But, my 
darling, please bear in mind that this matter is one that 
touches me very nearly, and do not oppose me heedlessly 
and hastily and do not disturb my frame of mind. I am sure 
that no harm will come of this and perhaps something good 
and important will result.— [Letters to Wife, pp. 223, 224.] 

And in this same letter Tolstoy asks his wife to advertise 
the sale of some horses. 

Apparently nothing came of this plan for Christian 
farming, and Tolstoy lapsed into his previous indiffer- 
ence. His wife was at one time ready to appeal to the 
authorities to have his property put under guardianship, 
in order to preserve it for the children, when he wished 
to distribute it to outsiders.* In 1891 the vexed 
question was settled by Tolstoy's dividing his estates 

* Behrs: Reminiscences, ch. 6. 


among his wife and his children, his wife retaining the 
copyright in his earlier works. The works written after 
Anna Karenin became the property of every man. This 
was against the protest of the Countess Tolstoy, who 
had a real grievance in the case of The Death of Ivan 
Ilyich, which her husband had given her as a name-day 
present, to be included in a new edition of his works.* 
After 1891 Tolstoy lived as a guest in houses belonging to 
others, f 

Tolstoy burned with eagerness to communicate to his 
wife something of his own new faith. In May, 1892, he 
wrote to his disciple Feinermann: 

I am terribly eager to give her at least a part of the re- 
ligious consciousness that I possess (though feebly, still to a 
degree that gives me the possibility of sometimes rising above 
the griefs of life), because I know that only this, this con- 
sciousness of God and of one's own sonship to him, gives life; 
and I hope that it will be imparted to her — of course, not 
from me, but from God. Although this consciousness is im- 
parted to women with great difficulty. — [Letters, collected by 
Sergeyenlco (Moscow, 1910) : I, 214, 215.] 

His wife looked up to him with all her old devotion, and 
regarded him as a man in advance of his age. Yet 
devotion to her children kept her at her post. She 
told her brother with tears in her eyes: 

It is hard for me now; I have to do everything alone, while 
formerly I was only a helper. The property and the education 
* Letters to Wife, pp. 354-57. f Maude: II, 426, 427, 513. 

LIFE: 1878-1910 263 

of the children are entirely in my hands. They blame me be- 
cause I do this and do not go begging alms! Would I not go 
forth with him if I did not have little children! But he has 
forgotten all for his teaching!* 

This difference in ideals made constant friction and 
discord between the Count and the Countess, which 
alternated with bursts of passionate affection. Tolstoy, 
feeling that his new teaching had brought strife into 
his life rather than peace, pathetically told Feinermann 
that love of those distant from us is a sin that hampers 
our love of those near at hand.f Yet at the bottom of 
his heart his love of his wife survived with all its youthful 
fervor. In May, 1897, he wrote to her in Moscow, 
whither she had returned after a two days' visit to 
Yasnaya Polyana: 

What sort of a trip did you have, and how are you now, my 
dear? By your coming you left such a strong, cheerful, good 
impression, even too good a one for me, because I feel the lack 
of you the more strongly. My awakening and your appearance 
[in the early morning of a marvelous May day] is one of the 
strongest joyful impressions that I have ever experienced, 
and that at the age of sixty-nine, from a woman of fifty- 
three.— [Letters to Wife, p. 523.] 

Once at least before his last journey Tolstoy resolved 
to make the supreme renunciation and to go forth into 
the world alone. Less than two months after the out- 

* Behrs: Reminiscences, ch. 6. 

f Teneromo: Living Words of L. N. Tolstoy, pp. 1, 2. 


burst of affection that has just been quoted he wrote to 
his wife the following letter: 

Dear Sonya, I have long been tortured by the inconsist- 
ency of my life with my beliefs. To force you to change your 
life, your habits, to which I myself have trained you, I have 
been unable; to leave you I have hitherto also been unable, 
thinking that I should deprive the children, while they were 
still small, of even that little influence which I might have 
on them, and that I should grieve you; but to continue to live 
as I have lived for these sixteen years, now quarreling with 
you and irritating you, now myself submitting to the tempta- 
tions to which I am accustomed and by which I am sur- 
rounded, I am also no longer able, and I have decided to 
do now what I wished to do long ago, to leave: in the first 
place, with my continually advancing years, this life becomes 
harder and harder for me, and I more and more long for soli- 
tude — and in the second place, because the children have grown 
up, my influence is no longer needed in the house, and you all 
have more living interests, which will make my absence little 
noticed by you. 

The principal thing is that as the Hindus at the age of 
sixty retreat into the forest, as every old, religious man wishes 
to consecrate the last years of his life to God, and not to 
jokes, puns, gossip, and tennis, so I, entering on my seventieth 
year, with all the strength of my soul long for that calm and 
solitude, and if not perfect agreement, at least not clamorous 
disagreement between my life and my beliefs, my conscience. 

If I should do this openly, there would be requests, re- 
provals, quarrels, complaints, and I should remain, perhaps, 
and should not carry out my decision — and it should be carried 
put. And therefore please pardon me if my act pains you, and 

LIFE: 1878-1910 265 

in your soul, above all, Sonya, let me go with good will and 
do not seek me, and do not complain of me, do not condemn 

That I have left you does not prove that I have been dis- 
contented with you. I know that you could not y literally 
could not and cannot see and feel as I do, and therefore could 
not and cannot change your life and make sacrifices for the 
sake of a truth that you do not recognize. And therefore I 
do not condemn you ; but, on the contrary, I remember with 
love and gratitude the long thirty-five years of our life, es- 
pecially the first half of that time, when you, with the motherly 
self-sacrifice natural to your character, so energetically and 
firmly bore that to which you regarded yourself as called. 
You gave to me and to the world what you could give, and 
gave much motherly love and self-sacrifice, and it is impossible 
not to value you for it. But in the last period of our life, for 
the last fifteen years, we have become separated. I cannot 
think that I am to blame, because I know that I have changed 
not for my own sake nor for that of men, and because I could 
not act otherwise. 

I cannot blame you for not following me, but I thank you, 
and with love I remember and shall remember you for what 
you have given me. Farewell, dear Sonya. 

Your loving, 

Leo Tolstoy. 

[Letters to Wife, pp. 524-26.1 

But Tolstoy's strength was still insufficient, and he 
remained at home in the old compromising circumstances. 

He gave the letter to a friend, charging him to deliver it 
to his wife after his death. Consciousness of his weakness 


never left him. In 1882 he had written in his tract On 
Non-Resistance to Evil by Evil (Letter to N. N.): "If I 
know the road home and walk along it drunken, tottering 
from side to side, does that prove that the path along 
which I am walking is not the true one?" And in Feb- 
ruary, 1884, he wrote to his wife: "I read Montaigne, 
go snowshoeing to no purpose, but get very tired, make 
shoes and think, and try to injure no one. I do not 
even try to do anything useful for others, it is so im- 
possibly difficult."* At last, in his eighty-third year, 
he summoned up his resolution to take the great step, 
and he left home on the journey that closed with his 

All this history Tolstoy strove to clothe in artistic 
form in the drama And the Light Shineth in Darkness^ on 
which he worked in 1900 and 1902. This work he never 
completed, but it was published in fragmentary form 
after his death. Here he depicts the struggles of an 
elderly landed proprietor, whose aspirations are the 
same as his own, with the apathy and passive resistance 
of his family. The piece is perhaps the only failure 
among all Tolstoy's works of art inspired by the life 
about him; he could not or would not make his double 
a hero, and he fails to make him even a pathetic figure. 

Tolstoy's aversion to the life of the wealthy, and to 
money and property in general, was strengthened by 
his life in Moscow. In 1881 his eldest son, Sergey, 
was ready to enter the university; and the Countess 

* Letters to Wife, pp. 216, 217. 

LIFE: 1878-1910 267 

desired better educational advantages for the other 
children as well. In September of that year the family 
moved to Moscow and settled in a rented house; in the 
next year they bought a permanent residence there. Life 
in the city brought Tolstoy face to face with the prob- 
lem of poverty in a totally different form from that which 
he had known in the country. Hitherto he had felt 
merely that his own life lacked meaning; now his eyes 
were opened to the ills of society, and he met men who 
sympathized with his own point of view. On October 17, 
1881, he noted in his diary: 

A month has passed. The most torturing in my life. The 
move to Moscow. All are settling themselves, but when will 
they begin to live? All is done not in order to live, but in 
order to act like other people. And there is no life. 

Stink, stones, luxury, beggarhood, vice. Villains have 
gathered together, who have plundered the people; they 
have gathered soldiers and judges in order to protect their 
orgies, and — they feast. The common people have nothing 
further to do than, taking advantage of the passions of these 
men, to coax back from them what has been plundered from 
themselves. The peasant men are the more clever at this. 
The women stay at home; the men rub floors and bodies in 
bath houses and serve as coachmen. — [Biryukov: II, 401.] 

These scattered phrases contain the essential idea of 
What Shall We Do Then? 

Tolstoy spent his time partly in literary work; then 
he would relieve his feelings by walking outside Moscow 
and sawing and splitting wood with peasants. He found 


true joy in his acquaintance with the peasant sectarian 
Syutayev. This man had abandoned his trade as a 
stone-cutter in St. Petersburg, and had moved to the 
village, where he had taken the humble post of herds- 
man, wishing to do good even to animals. He and his 
family rejected the church, disapproved of military 
service, shared their goods in common, and endeavored 
to guide their lives by the precepts of the New Testa- 
ment, by non-resistance and by love. The living sincerity 
of Syutayev was an inspiration to Tolstoy; here was a 
man who had really altered his life from religious con- 

It was at this time that Tolstoy took up the study of 
the Hebrew language. With the aid of a Jewish friend, 
Rabbi Minor (compare p. 237), he made rapid progress 
in it. Reading only the portions that interested him, 
he went through the Old Testament as far as Isaiah. 

Of his life in Moscow, and the conclusions to which 
it led him, Tolstoy gives an account in What Shall We Do 
Then?, written in 1886, four years after the events that 
it records. In this powerful book, part autobiography 
and part sociological speculation, he naturally shows 
the same point of view as in My Religion (1884). Yet 
the book makes a far different appeal. Tolstoy's argu- 
ment is of a sort more cogent with men of this genera- 
tion: he is not citing Gospel texts, to which he attaches 
a mandatory power, or appealing to the abstract moral 
sense of man; he is picturing actual social conditions 
and demanding that they be changed. Only the title 

LIFE: 1878-1910 269 

is biblical; it is taken from Luke iii, 10, the question 
that the people asked of John the Baptist, when he 
bade them prepare the way of the Lord. 

On the negative side What Shall We Do Then? is a 
social tract of marvelous power. Tolstoy, like Jacob 
Riis, in How the Other Half Lives, or like hundreds of 
lesser writers in American ten-cent magazines and 
sociological reports, simply tells of conditions as he has 
seen them. But Tolstoy is a writer of genius and in his 
picture of slum conditions he shows the same mastery 
as in his drawing of the ball-room or the hospital. And 
moral fervor gives to his denunciation of the pagan 
world of modern society an eloquence like that of St. 

Stirred by the suffering that he beheld, Tolstoy tried 
to start a sort of informal charitable organization, and 
in January, 1882, issued a public appeal to society, 
On the Census in Moscow. The coming census offered 
an opportunity for the census-takers to become ac- 
quainted with city conditions and to help the poor. 
They could wisely distribute alms that would be con- 
tributed by the kind-hearted rich. After the census 
they would remain in touch with the poor and aid 
them by work rather than by money; they would be- 
come brothers to the poor. Through the united efforts 
of society poverty would be abolished. 

But the scheme failed. The rich were apathetic. 
Tolstoy himself was a poor worker. "On the first day 
appointed the student census-takers started at dawn, but 


I, the benefactor, joined them about noon. I could not 
come earlier, because I got up at ten, then drank my 
coffee and smoked, waiting for digestion to take place."* 
Furthermore, the distribution of charitable funds 
proved to be useless without an alteration in the life- 
conception of the people who were to receive them. 
And this life-conception, on examination, was found to be 
exactly the same as that of the rich who gave the funds. 
Tolstoy was horrified when he found a prostitute bent 
on bringing up her daughter to her own trade. Re- 
flection convinced him, however, that the prostitute was 
acting in precisely the same fashion as the ladies of his 
own acquaintance: 

This daughter may be taken by force from the mother, 
but the mother cannot be convinced that she is doing evil 
by selling her daughter. If there was any one to save, it 
was this woman, the mother; above all she must be saved 
from that view of life, approved by every one, according to 
which a woman may live without marriage, that is without the 
bearing of children and without work, serving only the grati- 
fication of sensuality. If I had thought about this, then I 
should have understood that the majority of those ladies 
whom I wished to send here for the saving of that girl, not only 
themselves live without the bearing of children and without 
work, serving only the gratification of sensuality, but even 
consciously educate their little girls for this very life: one 
mother takes her daughter to the tavern, another to the 
court or to balls. But both mothers have one and the same 
life-conception, namely, that woman should gratify the lust 
* What Shall We Do Then?, ch. 5. 

LIFE: 1878-1910 271 

of man and that for this she should be fed, clothed, and 
pitied. So how shall our ladies correct this woman and her 
daughter?— [What Shall We Do Then?, ch. 8.] 

Tolstoy himself took a boy from the slums into his own 
kitchen, but the lad ungratefully ran away and joined a 
circus. The boy had discovered the possibility of a merry 
life without work; he would neither stay with Tolstoy 
nor work with Syutayev, the peasant, who offered him a 
place in his own family: 

I might have understood how silly it was for me, who was 
educating my own children in the most complete idleness 
and luxury, to be correcting other people and their children, 
who were perishing from idleness in the Rzhanov house, which 
I called a den, but in which nevertheless three quarters of the 
inmates worked for themselves and for others. But I under- 
stood nothing of this. — [Ch. 9.] 

Syutayev opened Tolstoy's eyes to his error. Tolstoy 
must first reform himself before he tried to correct 
others; he must become a laborer, a brother to his 
fellow men, and so infect them with his own view of 
life. This is Syutayev's solution of the problem: 

"Let us divide them [the idle folk of the slums] up between 
us. I am not rich, but I will at once take two. You took 
a lad into your kitchen; I invited him to join me, but he did 
not come. Let there be ten times as many; we will divide 
them all up. You will take some, and I will take some. We 
will go and work together; he will see how I work, will learn 
how to live, and we will sit down to the bowl together at 


one table, and he will hear a word from me and from you. 
That is charity, but that society of yours is mere folly." — 
[Ch. 14.] 

The idle rich, supported by the labor of the poor and set- 
ting them the example of a useless and dissolute life, are 
the cause of the continued existence of poverty. Tolstoy 
is one of this class, and is personally responsible for 
the misery of the Moscow slums. The clean, educated, 
luxurious rich can never help the poor. 

Tolstoy now proceeds to examine the nature of money 
itself, the symbol of wealth. Money, he finds, is only 
incidentally a medium of exchange; it is primarily an 
instrument of oppression, by means of which a small 
number of men make slaves of all the rest. In early 
times conquerors made slaves of men subjugated in 
battle; later feudal lords made slaves of men by seizing 
their lands; now the government, by the collection of 
taxes, forces men into a third, financial slavery. For 
in order to raise money to pay taxes Russian peasants 
are obliged to leave their own lands and work on those 
of the neighboring proprietors, or, worse yet, to go to 
the city and work in factories: 

So evident is this, that if the government would only make 
the experiment for a year of not collecting direct, indirect, 
and land taxes, all the work on other men's fields and in the 
factories would cease. Nine-tenths of the Russian people 
hire themselves out during the time of the collection of taxes 
and to raise money for taxes. — [Ch. 20.] 

LIFE: 1878-1910 27S 

The use of money to alleviate poverty only increases 
the evil. What then can be the real cure? It is that 
indicated by Syutayev, and has two stages. A man 
must first be honest with himself and recognize that he 
is supported in idleness by the labor of others; that 
men and women are toiling at injurious trades in order 
to maintain him in luxury. Conscious of his guilt, he 
will seek to escape from it, not by distributing a portion 
of his ill-gotten gains, but by ceasing to depend upon 
others. He will support himself, will engage in manual 
labor, will live a simple life in the country instead of a 
luxurious life in the city. Others, imitating him, will 
likewise take up a simple life, tilling the soil. Some men, 
with a talent for metal work or for teaching, will make 
plowshares or teach the children of the community 
instead of plowing and reaping. But their activity will 
be recognized as necessary by the whole community, 
nor will it lead to any distinctions of property. Gradually 
the whole world will adopt this mode of life, luxury and 
government will disappear, and men and women will be 
once more free and equal. 

To this book Tolstoy appends eloquent pages in- 
culcating on women the duty of childbearing, as on 
men that of labor. The logical connection is not obvious, 
except that in each case he preaches a revolt against the 
luxurious, self-indulgent habits of modern society. 

Thus in What Shall We Do Then? Tolstoy temporarily 
lays aside his ideal of pious mendicancy and inculcates 
useful work for society; he is guided not by the ascetic 


impulse, but by love. His ethic is to a certain extent 
world-affirming instead of world-renouncing. Through 
fixing his attention on social conditions instead of on 
personal conduct he is unconsciously driven into a 
compromise position, one that we may define as Christian 

Tolstoy's diagnosis of the causes of modern conditions 
and his proposed remedy for them are as inadequate as 
his presentation of the ills of modern society was masterly. 
Even in Russia taxation has been but a minor factor 
in determining the rise of modern industrialism and city 
life; in other countries the part played by taxation 
has been of still less account. Money has made possible 
modern conditions, but it was devised centuries before 
they arose; to say that money is primarily a means of 
oppression is as absurd as to say the same thing of steam 
or electricity. Neither money nor steel knives are 
bad in themselves, though they may be put to evil uses. 

It is a striking fact that in this work Tolstoy pays 
little attention to the industrial conditions that are 
shaping modern society, and yet shows clearly the in- 
fluence of modern socialistic thought, with which he 
may have become acquainted through his friend the 
ex-revolutionist Alekseyev. His three stages of slavery, 
personal slavery, land slavery, and taxation slavery, 
suggest those of Karl Marx. But for the wage slavery 
of Marx, of which he has small personal knowledge, he 
substitutes taxation slavery, of which he has watched 
the dire effects on his peasant neighbors. And, while 

LIFE: 1878-1910 275 

the Socialists concentrate their attention on problems of 
the production of wealth, Tolstoy considers rather the 
problem of consumption. By limiting his consumption, 
by simplifying his life, a man will benefit society more 
efficiently than by increasing his production through 
the use of machines. 

If Tolstoy had never formally abjured his doctrine 
of the impotence of the individual man to influence 
historic events, he had ceased to emphasize it, had 
indeed forgotten it. This is strikingly seen in the remedy 
here proposed for existing ills, in which we reach the 
ultimate limit of Tolstoy's individualism. Once he had 
denied the possibility of progress in history, but had ad- 
mitted it for the individual man. Now, opening his 
eyes, he sees that the perfected human character may 
become an object of imitation by others, and that 
thereby the structure of society may be modified, may 
become Christian instead of pagan, altruistic instead of 
predatory. What the man of action like Napoleon 
could not accomplish the humble peasant sectarian may 
perform. This is a buoyant individualism like that of 
Emerson. "Gods are we, bards, saints, heroes, if we 

In this remedy for modern ills may be seen not only 
Tolstoy's uncompromising individualism, but also his 
aversion to artificial civilization, his passion for the 
return to nature, for life next the soil and in the free 
air. A temperamental instinct has now become a 
religious duty. 


The weakness of Tolstoy's remedy is seen in its 
essentially reactionary character, and in its exclusive 
insistence on the moral life, to the neglect of other 
sides of human existence; or, to put the same thing 
more exactly, in its insistence on a narrow and unsound 
ethical ideal. 

Tolstoy had constantly denied the value of material 
progress and had hated external civilization, so that he 
contemplated with equanimity the sloughing off of such 
institutions as railroads and printing-presses. He was 
a kindred spirit to his English contemporary Ruskin. 
Ruskin had found modern machine-made goods unlovely, 
and so had been brought to a study of their production 
and to a yearning for the revival of simpler industrial 
conditions that did not crush the worker. Tolstoy had 
found city conditions morally vicious and so had longed 
for their abolition through the growth of a new social 
consciousness. Each man preached a gospel of simpli- 
fication. Each thereby placed himself in opposition to 
the current of modern history, which tends to more 
diversified wants, to cooperation in industry, to speciali- 
zation. Tolstoy was the more extreme. He lacked the 
saving common sense of his master Rousseau, who, 
despairing of a return of mankind to a happy bar- 
barism, wished to organize civilization on the basis of 
justice — to see that the new conditions should not 
hamper the development of the individual. The aim of 
all constructive reformers, of whatever type, notably of 
the Socialists, has been to introduce justice, equality 

LIFE: 1878-1910 277 

of opportunity, into the social order. Tolstoy, a voice 
crying in the wilderness, is almost alone among great 
men of our time in his wish to destroy the material 
advances that mankind has made. 

To this pitch of enthusiasm — let us frankly term it 
absurdity — Tolstoy was brought by his concentration 
on the moral life of the individual man. He views 
men as wholes; a man who does not lead a moral, 
that is, a self-sacrificing life, can accomplish no good 
in the world. Thus he ridiculed the Russian political 
exiles because their lives were often selfish and licen- 
tious, and he mocked at his literary associates for the 
same reason. But men of common sense do not judge 
a ballot-reform law by the private life of its framer, or 
condemn one of Poe's poems because of its author's 
moral weakness. Life is not all morality, or at least not 
all self-abnegation. If dry and sanitary houses, pure 
water, clean streets, knowledge of what is taking place 
in the world about us, are not worthy objects of am- 
bition, then Tolstoy may be right in his insistence on his 
peculiar type of ascetic, altruistic morality. But common 
sense will suspect that an ethical doctrine that leads 
to contempt for such things is fallacious, and common 
sense will be confirmed by ethical theory. Tolstoy's 
ethical and social writings are eloquent and stirring, 
but they are based on premises that we must admit 
are unsound. 

Naturally Tolstoy tried to carry out in his own life 
the ideal of self-sacrificing physical labor that he had 


formed. He toiled in the fields with his peasants: 
Repin's picture of the stalwart old man trudging behind 
the plow has become familiar to us. He learned the 
cobbler's trade, but so poorly that the boots he made 
"couldn't be worse."* He built a stove for a peasant, 
with similar ill success, f But as his years advanced, 
and his physical strength declined, he gradually ceased 
from labors in the fields. 

In this behavior men are accustomed to see something 
of the mountebank, and perhaps the reproach is to 
some small degree just. Possibly there was in it just a 
suspicion of that yearning for admiration which Tolstoy 
confesses was one of his distinguishing traits. But it is 
better to regard it as the pathetic effort of a great man 
to realize his own ideal in actual life, however im- 
perfectly and poorly he might do so. The work was good 
for him, even if it did not benefit the recipients. It was 
valuable for the spirit of brotherly love behind it, 
which was real and sincere. Similarly Tolstoy, who dis- 
approved of money alms in principle, continued to give 
them, in order to cultivate better feelings in him- 
self, and because his family still enjoyed the use of his 

Of course this queer exterior, these external traits, 
were easily imitated by the disciples, many of them mere 
soft-headed cranks, who now began to flock to Yasnaya 
Polyana. Had Tolstoy desired to found a religious 
sect, there might easily have grown up a Tolstoyan 
* Maude: II, 347. f Ibid., II, 227. 

LIFE: 1878-1910 279 

ritual of plowing and boot-making. But lie had no such 
desire. "My father had good reason for saying," his 
son writes in his Reminiscences (p. 302), "that the 
'Tolstoyites' were to him the most incomprehensible 
sect and the furthest removed from his way of thinking 
that he had ever come across. 'I shall soon be dead/ 
he sadly predicted, 'and people will say that Tolstoy 
taught men to plow and reap and make boots; while 
the chief thing that I have been trying so hard to say 
all my life, the thing I believe in, the most important of 
all, they will forget.'" 

Beyond certain limits Tolstoy never carried the 
application of his teaching. He claimed the right, for 
example, to have a quiet room in which to do his writing,* 
though he must have seen that even this modest luxury 
was inconsistent with his scheme of life. He never 
even tried to learn how to prepare his own food. His 
wife cared for him most tenderly, adapting the kitchen 
to his wants when in 1885 he became a vegetarian. 
Separation from such care was not good for him. His 
son Ilya, who was strongly affected by his father's 
teaching and was trying to live the simple life with his 
wife, tells amusingly of a visit from his father: 

My father helped us as well as he could, but I must confess, 
I came to the conclusion that he was extremely little fitted 
for the Robinson Crusoe life. It is true that he was not at all 
exacting, and always vowed that everything was first rate. 
But habit told — he had been accustomed for so many years 
* Maude: 11,528, 


to a particular order of life, a particular diet, that every 
departure from that order, even when he was only sixty, had 
a disastrous effect on his health. It happened again and 
again that when he had gone away quite healthy from home 
and found himself in new conditions, he came back ill; even 
when he had been staying with people who knew all his habits 
and looked after him like a little child. — [Reminiscences of 
Tolstoy, pp. 331, 332.] 

Tolstoy was now a changed man; his aristocratic 
aloofness had vanished and he became accessible to all 
visitors, ready to give counsel when asked, yet never 
forcing it on his guests. With young and old alike, 
with the ignorant and with the learned, he was ready to 
talk on the most intimate questions of the soul and of 
private conduct. Yet on the least hint of compulsion 
the old aristocratic pride would reassert itself. His 
brother Sergey, quoted by Count Ilya Tolstoy, describes 
him well: 

"He is always preaching humility and non-resistance, but 
he is proud for all that. Mashenka's sister had a footman 
called Forna. When he got drunk he used to get under the 
staircase, tuck up his legs and lie down. One day they came 
and told him that the Countess was calling him. 'She can 
come here and look for me if she wants me,' he answered. 
Levochka [pet name for Lev, Leo] is just the same. When 
Dolgoruky [Governor-General of Moscow] sent his chief secre- 
tary Istomin to ask him to come and have a talk with him 
about Syutayev the sectarian, do you know what he answered? 
' Let him come here, if he wants me.' Isn't that just like Forna? 

LIFE: 1878-1910 281 

No, LeVochka is very proud; nothing would induce him 
to go; and he was quite right; but it's no good talking of 
humility."— [Ibid., pp. 185, 186.] 

When his new conception of life had been fully formed, 
Tolstoy recovered his former gaiety of spirits. Biryukov 
writes of him: 

Some people have made a great mistake in supposing that 
the new, religious frame of mind of Lev Nikolayevich finds 
its expression in gloom and sorrow. Such were only moments 
of acute struggle with the temptations that surrounded him. 
But as soon as his spiritual equilibrium was reestablished, Lev 
Nikolayevich would assume a kindly, gay, joyous tone that 
infected all those about him with irrepressible gaiety. — [Biryu- 
kov: II, 435.] 

The wholesome and kindly home life was not de- 
stroyed. An institution of the family was the letter-box, 
into which each member dropped compositions, jokes, 
and verses, which were read aloud on the following 
Sunday. Naturally the father's contributions were the 
best. The following is a portrait of himself, taken from a 
Bulletin of the Patients at Ydsnaya Polydna Lunatic 

No. 1. Sanguine complexion. One of the harmless sort. 
The patient is subject to the mania known to German lunatic 
doctors as Weltverbesserungswahn. The patient's hallucina- 
tion consists in thinking that you can change other people's 
lives by words. General symptoms: discontent with all the 
existing order of things; condemnation of every one except 


himself, and irritable garrulity quite irrespective of his au- 
dience; frequent transitions from fury and irritability to an 
unnatural tearful sentimentality. Special symptoms: busy- 
ing himself with unsuitable occupations, such as cleaning 
and making boots, mowing hay, etc. Treatment: complete 
indifference of all surrounding the patient to what he says; 
occupations designed to use up all his energy. — [Count Ilya 
Tolstoy: Reminiscences of Tolstoy, p. 162.] 

Towards the end of 1891 Tolstoy was brought face 
to face with a great conflict between his principles and 
actual conditions. To his honor be it said, he neglected 
his principles in order to render more efficient service 
to humanity. In the summer of 1891 a severe famine 
broke out in central and eastern Russia, but it was ig- 
nored by the Russian government. Tolstoy, when from 
a personal visit to one of the suffering districts he had 
seen the destitution of the peasants, determined to do 
what he could to relieve them. In November he went 
to the estate of his friend Rayevsky, at Begichevka, a 
village in the province of Ryazan, some hundred miles 
from his own home, and remained there at work, with 
some intervals, until July, 1893. Not only he himself 
but his wife and sons and daughters threw themselves 
into the work. He published articles setting forth the 
needs of the population and the inefficiency of the gov- 
ernment's action, and the Countess inserted in the Mos- 
cow newspapers an appeal for money contributions. 
Funds began to flow in from Russia and from abroad, and 
soon Tolstoy, the anarchistic scorner of cooperation, 

LIFE: 1878-1910 283 

found himself at the head of a tolerably large philan- 
thropic organization. His reports on the work done show 
a shrewd practical sense and knowledge of peasant 
ways in the precautions taken to prevent the giving of 
aid to peasants able to help themselves. In the use 
of charitable funds, as his son tells us, Tolstoy was 
cautious and even parsimonious. His plan was to 
make no house to house distribution of supplies, but 
to establish eating-houses to which the needy must 
come for relief. Only those in real want would resort 
to these simple restaurants. In his report for July, 
1892, he gives the number of eating-houses under his 
charge as 246, at which from ten to thirteen thousand 
persons were fed. Besides this he had established 124 
"children's shelters," at which from two to three thou- 
sand children were fed with milk porridge. He also had 
charge of the distribution of firewood, of flax and 
bast for work, of horses for ruined farms, of potatoes, 
oats, and other seed for sowing, of the sale of baked 
bread at low prices, and of the feeding of the peasants' 
horses. Visitors to the famine districts give accounts 
of the unselfish personal service done by Tolstoy and 
his family. The peasants venerated the Count, though 
the priests were meanwhile denouncing him as Antichrist. 
Tolstoy's success in this experiment at practical 
philanthropy makes one wish that his energy had more 
often taken this course, instead of being diverted into 
whimsical by-paths. But each man must follow his 
own genius. Tolstoy fretted at the part he was play- 


ing. "I am living miserably," he wrote to Feinermann 
in December, 1891, when his work was just beginning. 
"I do not know myself how I was drawn into this 
work of feeding the hungry, which is oppressive to me. 
It is not for me, who am fed by them, to feed them. 
But I have been so drawn in that I have become a dis- 
tributor of the vomit thrown up by the rich. I feel 
that this is miserable and disgusting, but I cannot 
withdraw; not that I regard this as necessary — I 
think that I ought to withdraw, but I have not the 
strength."* In the following February he wrote to 
another friend: 

It is a surprising thing! If I still had any doubts whether 
or not it were possible to do good with money, then now, when 
I am buying grain with money and feeding some thousands 
of men, I have become perfectly convinced that nothing but 
evil can be done with money. 

You will say: "Why then do you continue to do so?" 

Because I cannot tear myself away, and because I feel 
nothing except the deepest oppression, and so think that I am 
not doing this for the satisfaction of my personality. 

The oppression is not in the toil — the toil on the contrary 
is joyous and draws me on — and not in an occupation for 
which I feel no heart, but in a constant inward consciousness 
of being ashamed of myself. — [Letters, collected by Sergeyenko 
and edited by Gruzinsky (Moscow, 1912): pp. 109, 110.] 

Love and asceticism were constantly struggling in 
Tolstoy's nature! Despite his principles Tolstoy was 
* Letters, collected by SergSyenko (Moscow, 1910) : I, 208. 

LIFE: 1878-1910 285 

again drawn into similar work of famine relief, on a 
smaller scale, in company with his son Ilya, in the 
spring of 1899.* 

Tolstoy's impatience with business details is amusing. 
On May 1, 1892, he wrote to his wife: 

Yesterday I was again at work writing my report; reckoned 
up the accounts, got mixed, tried to straighten things out, 
and, it seems, did so. I was confused mainly by not knowing 
how to figure up accounts and keep books; and we have not 
only double but triple book-keeping, and not as an aid to 
order, but to disorder. Finally I decided to reckon up how 
much we really have left over, and then how much we have 
spent, and so to determine how much we received. It came 
out almost in agreement with the entries of receipts that we 
have here. — [Letters to Wife, p. 407.] 

This is from the man who had written in 1862, in his 
article On Popular Education: "It seems that there is 
no need of proving that tenue des livres, Buchhaltung, 
which is taught in Germany and England, is a science 
that requires only a quarter of an hour's explanation 
for any pupil who knows the four rules of arithmetic." 

Despite his intense aversion to the Russian Church, 
Tolstoy retained a certain admiration for the monastic 
life. This is illustrated by his repeated pilgrimages to 
the Optin Monastery in the province of Kaluga, some 
hundred miles from Yasnaya Poly ana. The first of 
* Count Ilya Tolstoy: Reminiscences of Tolstoy, pp. 352-359. 


these was in 1877, when he was still a member of the 
church; the second he made on foot, in 1881, dressed 
as a peasant pilgrim, and accompanied only by his 
servant Arbuzov. On this trip he was shocked to see 
a monk offering to a poor woman, who had asked for 
the Gospels, a description of the monastery in place of 
them; he forthwith bought a copy of the Gospels and 
gave it to the woman. When his identity was dis- 
covered the archimandrite insisted that he be lodged 
in the luxurious hotel instead of in the quarters of the 
common pilgrims; Tolstoy, after repeated refusals, con- 
sented. He passed four hours in conversation with 
Father Ambrose, the celebrated holy man of the monas- 
tery. Still a third journey was made in 1890, largely 
for a visit to his sister Marya, who had become a nun 
in the convent at Shamordino, some eight miles from 
the Optin Monastery. 

Tolstoy's familiarity with monastic life is attested 
by his posthumous tale Father Sergy, written at inter- 
vals from 1890 to 1898. The hero of this story is a 
wealthy young aristocrat who, from religious convic- 
tion, has entered a monastery and become famous for 
his saintly life. Proud of his own fame, he succumbs to 
the temptation of a girl who is brought into his cell to 
be healed. Crushed in spirit, he wanders forth from 
the monastery, becomes a vagabond, and is sent to 
Siberia. "In Siberia he settled in a hut on the grounds 
of a rich peasant and is now living there. He works in 
his host's garden, teaches children, and tends the 

LIFE: 1878-1910 287 

sick." The theme, that of the danger of pride in one's 
own moral progress, is one that runs through all 
Tolstoy's work. 

Tolstoy's conversion, though it estranged him from his 
friend Fet, brought into his circle of intimates numbers 
of men who sympathized with his doctrines and who 
tried to realize them in practice. Freaks of all sorts 
sought his acquaintance, but among his new associates 
were a few persons of considerable force of character. 
Among these were Vladimir Chertkov and Pavel Biryu- 
kov, who became in a sense his literary agents, aiding 
in the publication abroad, mainly in Switzerland and 
England, of those of his works that were prohibited in 
Russia. (Biryukov was one of his most zealous helpers 
in the famine relief.) They were instrumental in or- 
ganizing in Russia a publishing firm, the Mediator, 
which aimed to furnish cheap literature of good quality 
for the peasants. Thanks largely to the cooperation of 
a Moscow publisher named Sytin, this undertaking was 
a practical success. For it Tolstoy wrote numerous 
tracts and stories, and other authors did the same. 
Biryukov estimates the number of booklets distributed 
by the firm in the nineties as some 3,500,000 copies a 
year.* As none of these works were copyrighted, re- 
prints of them were frequent. 

No such success attended the efforts of Tolstoy's 
disciples to organize communities in which they should 
live according to the teachings of their master. The 
*Life of Tolstoy (London and New York, 1911), p. 104. 


associations all failed, generally through internal dis- 
sensions. Tolstoy himself, who was not a Tolstoyan 
(compare page 279), apparently never attached great 
importance to these projects, though they were directly 
inspired by his counsel in What Shall We Do Then?; 
he took no part in founding them. Indeed organization 
of any sort was abhorrent to Tolstoy's nature, which, 
as has already been repeatedly emphasized, was fun- 
damentally individualistic. This may be illustrated by 
quotations from his Journal for December, 1897, and 
January and February, 1898: 

I had a talk with Dushan [Dr. Makovitsky, later Tolstoy's 
companion in his flight from home]. He said that since he has 
become involuntarily my representative in Hungary, then 
how was he to act. I was glad for the opportunity to tell him 
and to clarify it to myself that to speak about Tolstoyanism, 
to seek my guidance, to ask my decision on problems, is a 
great and gross mistake. There is no Tolstoyanism and has 
never been, nor any teaching of mine; there is only one eternal, 
general, universal teaching of the truth, which for me, for us, 
is especially clearly expressed in the Gospels. — [The Journal of 
Leo Tolstoy, 1895-1899, translated by Strunsky: pp. 178, 179.J 

Organization, every kind of organization, which frees from 
any kind of human, personal, moral duties. All the evil in 
the world comes from this. — [Ibid., p. 195.] 

Faresov told me about Malikov's teaching. All this was 
beautiful, all this was Christian: be perfect like your Father; 
but it was not good that all this teaching had for its end 

LIFE: 1878-1910 289 

influence over people and not inner satisfaction, not an answer 
to the problem of life. Influence on others is the main Achilles' 
heel.— [Ibid., p. 210.] 

Thus Tolstoy stoutly resisted every attempt of his 
admirers to make him the leader of a sect. In 1892 a 
group of his disciples formed the idea of calling a congress 
of Tolstoyans and giving some organization to their body. 
But when they appealed for advice to Tolstoy himself, 
he advised against any external union; each man should 
trust the promptings of his own spirit: "By what 
signs am I to find out that I am destined to be united 
with Ivan and not with Peter, or not with a horse- 
thief from Krapivo or with the Governor of Cher- 
nigov?" But Feinermann, who tells of this incident, 

It is interesting that a few years later . . . L. N. no longer 
held these anti-communal views, but spoke of the necessity of 
communal life, and two years ago [1910?] when in St. Peters- 
burg a society of Free Christians was founded, and their 
regulations were sent to L. N., he replied with full agreement 
to the organization of the new community. The spirit of L. N. 
grew in deep sincerity, and what at the first glance seems a 
contradiction is really a sign of life. — [Teneromo, Living Words 
of L. N. Tolstoy, p. 255.] 

In 1895 members of a Russian sectarian body, the 
Dukhobors, under the influence of the Tolstoyan teach- 
ing, which they had received through their exiled 
leader, Verigin, publicly burned the arms that they were 


carrying as members of the Russian army. In return 
they were flogged by Cossacks and subjected to cruel 
persecution. They attracted the attention of Tolstoy 
and his followers, who found their beliefs remarkably 
consonant with their own, and who obtained from the 
Russian authorities permission for them to leave Russia. 
The Canadian government was willing to provide lands 
for them as immigrants, but funds were lacking for the 
expenses of the trip to Canada. To aid in securing these, 
Tolstoy took from his chest Resurrection, sl novel begun 
some years before, completed it, and sold it to Marx, a 
prominent Russian publisher, who printed it in 1899. 
To do work for money involved Tolstoy in a com- 
promise with his conscience, but in this instance he 
decided that the end justified the means. Marx offered 
30,000 rubles for the right of copyright for a short time, 
and 12,000 rubles for the right merely of serial publica- 
tion in his weekly paper. Tolstoy, after some hesita- 
tion, accepted the smaller sum. As soon as the weekly 
installments were printed, other publishers began to 
reissue them, and Marx made complaints to Tolstoy. 
Tolstoy then wrote an open letter, praying publishers 
to refrain from reprinting any part of the work until 
its completion, and so great was his moral authority 
in Russia that his request was heeded. Tolstoy, in 
revising the book, so greatly lengthened it that Marx 
voluntarily added an extra 10,000 rubles to his fee. 
But the profit for the Dukhobors, both from the publi- 
cation in Russia, and from the translations, was less 

LIFE: 1878-1910 291 

than if the work had been handled in the ordinary com- 
mercial fashion. 

Once settled in northwest Canada, the Dukhobors at 
first through misunderstandings caused trouble to the 
Canadian authorities, but with the lapse of time nearly all 
of them have become industrious and inoffensive colonists. 

The Dukhobor leader Verigin in his letters had argued 
against the use of books and railways, stating with truth 
that for the production of each hard labor under- 
ground and at furnaces is needful. This was a perfectly 
legitimate corollary of doctrine already preached by 
Tolstoy. But Tolstoy, instead of approving his too apt 
disciple, replied to him with a characteristic vein of 
opposition. For once he takes the sound position that 
one must try to ameliorate social conditions instead 
of merely to cancel work already done by man: 

To tell you the truth, your obstinate attack on books has 
seemed to me a narrow-minded sectarian way of defending 
an opinion once accepted and expressed. And such narrow- 
mindedness is not in accord with the opinion that I have 
formed of your intelligence and above all of your frankness and 
sincerity. . . . 

As for your argument that for books and railways men 
need to crawl underground for ore and into a blast-furnace, 
they need to do so just as much for a plowshare, a spade, or 
a scythe. And in crawling underground for ore or working 
at a blast-furnace there is nothing bad; and I myself when I 
was young would have gladly done so, and even now any 
fine young man will gladly crawl underground from mere high 
spirits and will work iron, provided only this is not com- 


pulsory and does not last all his life and is accompanied by 
all the conveniences that men will surely invent, in case all 
men are to work and not merely hired slaves. . . 

When I see an ant-hill in the meadow I can in no way 
admit that the ants made a mistake in raising this hill and 
in doing all that they are doing in it. Just so, looking at all 
that men have done in a material way, I cannot admit that they 
have done all this by mistake. As a man (and not an ant) 
I see mistakes in the human hill and cannot help wishing 
to correct them — that is my part in the general work — but I 
do not wish to destroy the whole hill of human toil, but only 
to arrange more regularly in it all that has been arranged ir- 
regularly in it. And in the human hill very much has been 
arranged irregularly: of this I have written and still write; 
because of this I have suffered and still suffer; and I am 
trying, up to the measure of my strength, to change it. . . . 

If men only knew that the aim of humanity is not material 
progress, that this progress is an inevitable growth, but that 
the only aim is the good of all men, that this aim is higher 
than any material aim that men may set themselves — then all 
would fall into its proper place. And to this the men of our 
time should direct all their strength. [Second Letter: printed 
in Letters of Verigin (Christchurch, 1901), pp. 215-219.] 

Another and a very important instance of Tolstoy's 
concessions to practicality is his enthusiastic adoption 
and advocacy of Henry George's single-tax program, 
with its object of freeing the land from private owner- 
ship. The sufferings of the Russian peasants for lack 
of land had weighed upon Tolstoy, and he caught at 
this solution, which seemed to him just and practi- 

LIFE: 1878-1910 293 

cable; he supports it, among other places, in his paper 
To the Working People (1902). He wrote to his wife 
in 1897 that the death of Henry George affected him 
as that of a very near friend.* In conversation he 
likened the single-tax question in contemporary society 
to that of the emancipation of the serfs in the days of 
his own youth. The single-tax system of course implies 
a strong government to collect the tax, and thus con- 
tradicts Tolstoy's ideal. His reply was, that so long 
as government existed, men should try to secure good 
laws, and that the single tax would be one of the best 
possible, f Thus Tolstoy has adopted a practical point 
of view such as one might expect from a Liberal or a 
Socialist. But do not be too sure of his conversion; the 
spirit of the loyal Russian noble was still alive in him. 
"I think," he told a visitor in 1894, "that such a change 
[as the single-tax system] may be carried out by the 
absolute authority. As the freeing of the peasants was 
realized by the will of the tsar, so the abolition of land 
injustice may be realized by a similar authority. No 
other authority will do it, because it will contradict the 
interests of the classes who support that authority. "J 

To the last Tolstoy never fully overcame his dislike 
for the Liberals and the Socialists, against whom on 
occasion he would fulmine out his scorn. And yet, now 
that he himself was a prominent figure in the political 

* Letters to Wife, p. 532. 

f Maude: II, 629. 

| Semenov, in Messenger of Europe, Sept., 1908, p. 37, 


world, if only as a denier of politics, and now that his 
acquaintance with men of all stripes of opinion was 
broader than in his younger days, he at times uttered 
views that were quite at variance with his fundamental 
no-government attitude. He was stirred to indignation 
in 1895, when the young tsar, Nicholas II, in reply to 
a loyal petition of the Tver provincial council, praying 
that the people might be given a voice in the govern- 
ment of the country, denounced their requests as "in- 
sensate dreams."* He refers to this incident in a letter 
to the tsar, written in 1902, in which he denounces 
autocracy as "an outlived form of government, that 
may answer to the demands of a people somewhere in 
central Africa, distant from the whole world, but not 
to the demands of the Russian people, which is becoming 
more and more enlightened with the enlightenment 
common to the whole world." Of the Socialists and 
Revolutionists he gives a not unkindly picture in Resur- 
rection. While he denounces their methods, he is stirred 
by their heroism and finds among them admirable types 
of character. The moral nature of his heroine Katyusha 
is aroused by their unselfish enthusiasm. 

It is striking that while Tolstoy's writings were 
prohibited in Russia, and his followers often severely 
persecuted, he himself was left in peace. Alone and 
unaided, he was a man whom the government feared 
to touch. He was acknowledged as beyond comparison 
the chief man of letters in Russia, and as a good man, 
* Maude: II, 500. 

LIFE: 1878-1910 295 

the glory of the nation. He had repeatedly denounced 
acts of violence committed against the government with 
the same indignation that he had shown towards those 
perpetrated by the government. Force used against a 
man whose creed was simple goodness would have 
raised a tempest of indignation all through the empire. 
Tolstoy's personality was stronger than the state. 

At one time an attempt was made to have Tolstoy 
confined in a monastery as a heretic. This is said to 
have been thwarted by the tsar Alexander III him- 
self, who is reported to have said to the minister of the 
interior: "I beg you not to touch Lev Tolstoy; I have 
no intention of making a martyr of him and drawing on 
myself the dislike of all Russia. If he is to blame, so 
much the worse for him."* 

The Russian Church, however, did not allow Tolstoy's 
attacks on it to pass without notice. On March 10, 
1901, the Holy Synod, its governing body, published an 
official notice stating that Tolstoy "with the zeal of a 
fanatic" preached "the overthrow of all the dogmas 
of the Orthodox Church and of the very essence of the 
Christian faith," and that "therefore the church does 
not regard him as a member and cannot so regard him 
until he repents and renews his communion with it." 
This was generally regarded as a decree of excommunica- 
tion. The effect of the document was to increase the 

* The statement rests on the authority of the Countess A. A. Tolstoy 
(Correspondence with the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, p. 60). There are 
difficulties in accepting it; see Maude: II, 448. 


dislike and contempt for the church authorities felt by 
thinking Russians, and to deepen their reverence for 
Tolstoy; on the other hand it was the cause of con- 
siderable annoyance to him through the feeling that 
it stirred up among the less intelligent part of the popula- 
tion. It roused him to a burst of noble eloquence in 
defence of his own position. His summary of his own 
creed, with which he closes his reply, demands quota- 

Here is what is just and what is unjust in the Synod's de- 
cree in regard to me. I really do not believe in what they say 
that they believe in. But I believe in much in which they wish 
to convince people that I do not believe. 

I believe in the following: I believe in God, whom I under- 
stand as Spirit, as Love, as the Beginning of All. I believe that 
He is in me and I in Him. I believe that the will of God is most 
clearly, most comprehensibly expressed in the teaching of the 
man Christ, to understand whom as God and to pray to whom 
I regard as the greatest blasphemy. I believe that the true 
good of man is in the fulfilling of the will of God, and that His 
will consists in that men should love one another and in con- 
sequence of this do unto others as they would have others do 
unto them, as it is said in the Gospel that in this is all the 
law and the prophets. I believe that the sense of life of every 
man is therefore only in the increasing of love within him- 
self; that this increasing of love leads an individual man in 
this life to continually greater and greater good; and after 
death gives him greater good in proportion as love is greater 
within him; and at the same time contributes more than 
aught else to establishing in this world the Kingdom of God, 

LIFE: 1878-1910 297 

that is, an order of life in which the discord, deceit, and violence 
at present reigning shall be replaced by free concord, truth, 
and brotherly love of men one to another. I believe that for 
progress in love there is only one means, prayer — not public 
prayer in temples, which is directly prohibited by Christ 
(Matt, vi, 5—13) — but prayer the model of which was given us 
by Christ, solitary prayer, consisting in the establishing 
and fixing in our own consciousness of the sense of our own 
life and of our dependence only on the will of God. 

Whether or not these beliefs of mine offend, grieve, or se- 
duce any man, hinder anything or anybody or are displeasing 
to him — I can change them just as little as my own body. 
I must live alone and die alone (and very soon), and therefore I 
cannot believe otherwise than I do believe, preparing to go to 
that God from whom I came. I do not believe that my faith 
is indubitably the one truth for all time, but I see none other 
that is simpler, clearer, and more correspondent to all the 
demands of my mind and heart; if I learn of such a faith, I 
shall at once accept it, because God needs naught but the 
truth. But I can in no way return to that from which I have 
just come forth with such sufferings, as a flying bird cannot 
return to the eggshell from which it has come forth. 

"He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth 
will proceed by loving his own Sect or Church better than 
Christianity, and end in loving himself [his own repose] better 
than all," said Coleridge. 

I have proceeded by the opposite path. I began by loving 
my orthodox faith more than my repose, then I came to love 
Christianity more than my Church, and now I love Truth more 
than all else in the world. And for me Truth still coincides 
with Christianity, as I understand it. And I profess this 
Christianity, and in the measure in which I profess it I live 


calmly and joyously, and calmly and joyously I approach 

Tolstoy was busy with writing on religious and social 
questions almost to the day of his death. His longest 
and most important work of this sort after What Shall 
We Do Then? is The Kingdom of God is Within You, 
which was composed in 1892-93, while he was busy with 
the relief of the starving peasants. In form this book is a 
defence of My Religion against attacks that had been 
made on it; in substance it is mainly an eloquent 
denunciation of war. In My Religion Tolstoy had 
treated of the personal life, in What Shall We Do Then? 
of the life of the community; he now broadened his 
field to include international relations. The propaganda 
of this work is the part of Tolstoy's teaching that has 
rightly won most admiration and least ridicule through- 
out the world. Tolstoy became famous — and influential 
— as the greatest living apostle of international peace. 
His remedy, to be sure, was not that of other peace 
advocates. They would end war by international agree- 
ments, scraps of paper that in the past nations have 
repeatedly violated for the sake of temporary ad- 
vantage. Tolstoy would obtain peace by a transfor- 
mation of the conscience of humanity, so that no man 
would consent to serve in an army, whether in war or in 
peace. Here, as always, Tolstoy is more powerful in 
denouncing ills than in showing the way out from them. 
But this time the ills are those felt by all humanity, so 

LIFE: 1878-1910 299 

that Tolstoy's voice was the clearest and most penetrat- 
ing among those of a band of reformers rather than a 
cry from the wilderness. Despite the desolation that is 
now sweeping over Europe, he has been an influence of 
real power, a prophet of a better time to come. 

Tolstoy resumed the same theme in numerous short 
pamphlets, such as Christianity and Patriotism (1894), 
Patriotism or Peace (1896), Patriotism and Govern- 
ment (1900), and Bethink Yourselves! (1904), the last of 
which was occasioned by the war between Russia and 
Japan. Here he denounced patriotism as "a crude, 
harmful, disgraceful, and bad, and above all, an immoral 
feeling."* Tolstoy's ideal was that of the saint. Pa- 
triotism, though it is a modified form of selfishness, is 
at least higher than the personal selfishness, the love of 
ease and quiet and the forgetfulness of all ideals, which is 
at present opposed to it more often than the saintliness 
of Tolstoy. The aim may sometimes justify the means, 
as Tolstoy often showed in his own practice. War for 
a high ideal, in the name of freedom and of peace, is a 
lesser evil than supine submission to the wrong done in 
the world. Pathetically enough, Tolstoy found that 
the spirit of the artillery officer was not dead within him; 
he "nearly wept at the news of the fall of Port Arthur."f 

In general, Tolstoy's latest religious writings consist 
of a multitude of essays, letters, and notes, which of 
course cannot be considered separately. Some of their 
departures from the point of view of the works imme- 

* Patriotism and Government, ch. 7, f Maude: II, 618. 


diately following his conversion have already been men- 
tioned. His emphasis on non-resistance becomes more 
extreme than ever. In My Religion he had countenanced 
force used towards a child for a good aim;* now, in 
his letter to Rakhmanov (1891) he disapproves even of 
resistance to an animal.f He told Anuchin that one 
must not even kill a wolf that attacks him; "for if we 
may kill a wolf, we may also kill a dog, and a man, and 
there will be no limit !"{ 

In his latest years Tolstoy made a collection of pas- 
sages from great thinkers, from Lao-tsze and Plato to 
Emerson and Henry George, interspersed with passages 
of his own writing, arranged as a Course of Reading for 
every day in the year. To this he attached great im- 
portance. "I should like to have my readers experience 
in the daily reading of this book," he writes in his pref- 
ace, "the same beneficent, elevating feeling which I 
have experienced in its compilation and now continue 
to experience in its perusal." 

What impresses one in Tolstoy's old age is his constant 
mental and spiritual activity, his ever-youthful search 
for new truth, even if that truth, when found, be but 
the old expressed in different words. He fulfills the 
prophecy that he had written in Youth: "I am con- 
vinced that if I am fated to live to extreme old age, 
and my tale overtakes my years, as an old man of 

* See p. 239, above. 

f Letters, collected by Sergeyenko (Moscow, 1910) : I, 200. 

% Maude: II, 474. 

LIFE: 1878-1910 301 

seventy I shall indulge in the same impossible, childish 
dreams as now."* In Tolstoy there was no calm, 
whether of intellectual, self-confident repose, or of 
spiritual saintliness. "It is evil,'* he writes in a private 
letter, "when a man says to himself: *I have become 
better than I was; thus I do not smoke, I do not commit 
adultery, I give away the tenth part of my property, 
and do not act as the publicans do.' God grant that you 
may always be dissatisfied and not see the road that you 
have traversed in drawing near Him!"f "The dis- 
agreement of life with what it should be, or, more 
exactly speaking, with what it will be, is just its charac- 
teristic mark, the sign of fife. ... In every man a 
movement takes place from an inferior state to a su- 
perior state, from the worse to the better, from the 
smaller to the larger: all this may be called life. "J 

Yet this account of Tolstoy's last years may best close 
with a picture of him as a quiet, practical counsellor. In 
a letter to his wife, written in 1894, he tells of an interview 
with an eccentric vagrant who came to him for counsel : 

I tried in every way to persuade him to settle with his 
father, and there, resting from the ascetic life that he is lead- 
ing — he wears bast shoes and is covered with lice — to choose 
some work for himself, and above all to make people love him, 
instead of being afraid of him, as they are now; to try to be 
useful and pleasant to men. — [Letters to Wife, p. 482.] 

* See page 33, above. 

f Corresponda?ice inedite (Paris, 1907), pp. 351, 352. 

t Ibid., p. 349. 



OLSTOY'S continued growth in a religious 
view of life had the effect of deepening his 
kindly feelings toward Turgenev. In 1881 he 
twice visited Turgenev on his estate. Upon 
the poet Polonsky, who was also visiting Turgenev at 
the time, he made the impression of a changed man, 
"as it were reborn, penetrated with another faith, an- 
other love." "On neither of us did he force his way of 
thinking, and he listened calmly to the objections of 
Turgenev. In a word, this was no longer the Count whom 
I had once known in his youth."* 

In 1882 Turgenev wrote to a friend his impression of 
Tolstoy's Confession: 

I recently received through a very charming Moscow 
lady Tolstoy's Confession, which the censorship has prohibited. 
I have read it with great interest; it is remarkable for its 
sincerity, truthfulness, and force of conviction. But it is 
all built on false premises and finally leads to the most gloom}' 
negation of all human life. . . . This is a nihilism of its own 
sort. I wonder why Tolstoy, who among other things denies 

* Biryukov: II, 393, 394. 


even art, surrounds himself with artists, and what they can 
derive from his conversation. And yet Tolstoy is almost the 
most remarkable man of contemporary Russia. — [Biryuk6v: 
n, 435.] 

Turgenev had been a constant admirer of Tolstoy's 
artistic genius and had never ceased to lament his 
friend's neglect of it. In 1879 he had written to Polon- 
sky: "L. Tolstoy, as a great and living talent, will leap 
out of the mire in which he is stuck, and with benefit to 
literature." In 1883 he addressed to Tolstoy himself, 
from his death-bed, the following touching appeal: 

Dear and beloved Lev Nikolayevich! 

I have not written to you for a long time, for I have been 
ill, and am, to speak frankly, on my death-bed. I cannot 
recover, and there is no use thinking of it. I am writing to 
you just to tell you how glad I have been to be your con- 
temporary, and to express to you my last request. My friend, 
return to your literary work. That gift of yours comes from 
the same source as all else. Ah, how happy I should be if I 
could think that my request would have an effect upon you ! . . . 
I am a doomed man; the doctors do not even know what to 
call my complaint, nevralgie stomocale gouteuse. I can neither 
walk, nor eat, nor sleep ! It is tiresome even to mention all this. 
My friend, great writer of the Russian land, heed my request. 
Let me know whether you receive this paper, and permit me 
once more to embrace closely, closely j^ourself, your wife, and all 
yours. I can no more. I am weary. — [Biryuk6v: II, 451, 452.] 

This appeal had no direct effect on Tolstoy, who 
worked according to his own bent, quite independently 


of any urging from others. In 1884 he wrote to his 
wife, presumably in reference to one of his religious 
works : " I must write, I absolutely must, but I have 
not that passionate longing without which it is im- 
possible."* As a matter of fact he disliked the title 
"great writer of the Russian land/' which Turgenev 
had bestowed on him, and which clung to him ever 
afterwards.f But after Turgenev's death, despite his 
dislike for public speaking, he eagerly accepted an in- 
vitation from the Society of Lovers of Russian Litera- 
ture in Moscow to give an address at a projected cele- 
bration in Turgenev's honor, and he applied himself 
with enthusiasm to the reading of his works. He was 
particularly charmed by Enough, of which he had 
written most contemptuously in 1865. J Unfortunately 
the Russian authorities forbade the projected public 
celebration; and, as Tolstoy would not write out his 
speech for publication, Russian literature was deprived 
of what would have been a most striking verdict on 
Turgenev's life and work. 

For eight years after the completion of Anna Karenin 
Tolstoy entirely laid aside realistic fiction, the type of 
work in which he was supreme. During this interval 
the only works of the imagination that he produced 
were a few short stories, often containing supernatural 
elements, and some of them founded on popular legends, 

* Letters to Wife, p. 229. 

f Count Ilya Tolstoy : Reminiscences of Tolstoy, p. 230. 

J Letters to Wife, p. 202; and Biryukov: II, 66. 


of which What Men Live By (1881) is perhaps the best. 
This and succeeding tales of the same sort are not 
without power, but taken by themselves they would give 
no hint of Tolstoy's real genius. His religious and 
sociological writings, My Religion and What Shall We 
Do Then ?, make their appeal, as has already been pointed 
out, by the illustrations drawn from daily life, by the 
same intimacy with the readers' daily lives that dis- 
tinguishes War and Peace. These short tales have the 
same patent didactic purpose as the religious writings 
with which they are contemporary, but unfortunately 
they seem deprived of the truth of observation that is 
Tolstoy's distinguishing trait. In an article, On the 
Truth in Art (1887), Tolstoy strove to justify his methods 
in them by saying that the fundamental truth of moral 
ideas is the only thing that matters in art. Yet in 
What is Art? (1898) he characteristically did not class 
these stories as good art, but preferred to them God Sees 
the Truth and The Prisoner of the Caucasus (cf. p. 344), 
in which the supernatural machinery is absent and a 
plain, direct narrative enforces its own lesson. Tol- 
stoy's genius, wonderful in its picturing of every-day 
reality, was not adapted to symbolism; he reached suc- 
cess in but few cases, among which one may mention 
particularly his late tale Esarhaddon (1903). 

But Tolstoy's genius could not permanently be di- 
verted from its native bent. In 1886 he suddenly pro- 
duced The Death of Ivan Ilyich (a story), and The Power 
of Darkness (a drama); three years later he wrote 


The Kreutzer Sonata (a short novel) and The Fruits of 
Enlightenment (a comedy) ; in 1895 there followed a short 
story, Master and Man; then, in 1899, he completed, 
under circumstances that have been already described, 
a long novel, Resurrection, of which he had received the 
subject in 1888 from his friend Senator Koni. To 
these we may add The Devil (1889), Father Sergy (1890- 
98), The Living Corpse (1900), Hadji Murad (1896-1904), 
and a few other works which were left unfinished or with- 
out final revision, and which were not published until 
after his death. These writings show the novelist's 
genius undimmed by the lapse of years. 

Undimmed, but not unchanged. Through this series of 
works there runs a somber, intense moral purpose 
that continually transforms them into Puritan tracts. 

Not even the earliest of Tolstoy's works can be called 
gay. The author of Childhood was so wide awake to 
the seamy side of human character that his picture of 
the world at times appears pessimistic. In War and 
Peace, despite the fullness of happy life that pervades 
the book, there is a strain of intensity; life is serious 
and grim despite its joyous aspects. Now, in these 
works written after his religious conversion (if we except 
The Fruits of Enlightenment and Hadji Murad) the 
note of joy, of eager delight in the life of the flesh, has 
disappeared. No gracious, maidenly figures like Natasha 
dance through these later works; murder, moral torture, 
lust, adultery, lie at their foundation. The life of the 
body is shown to be wholly bad, while to it Tolstoy 


contrasts a spiritual bliss, a moral awakening, to which 
he vainly strives to give convincing human form. 

The mildest of the somber series is the first, The Death 
of Ivan Ilyich. A lawyer of fair talents, a Philistine 
worldling, an average man, neither bad nor good, 
neither rich nor poor, injures himself internally by a 
fall from a step-ladder. The injury, which at first 
caused only slight discomfort, becomes more and more 
painful; Ivan Ilyich sees before him a slow, agonizing 
death. In his wife and children he finds no true sym- 
pathy; to them his helpless suffering is nothing but a 
nuisance. Only his peasant man-servant, healthy and 
with an uncorrupted natural unselfishness, treats him 
with genuine kindness. At last Ivan Ilyich perceives that 
his years on earth have been wasted in ignorance of 
life's true meaning. He dies after three days that have 
been one yell of pain, from which his family have shel- 
tered themselves behind closed doors. His wife is 
mainly concerned about receiving her pension; his 
colleagues, about the appointment of a successor. 

This tale, of some eighty pages, is distinguished 
from Tolstoy's earlier writings by its unity, ks con- 
centration on one central theme. Tolstoy no longer 
strives to give the full, rounded presentation of life that 
he had achieved in Anna Karenin. Hence comes the 
overpowering intensity of the work. Holland tells of 
finding enthusiasm for it among the French bourgeoisie, 
a class naturally impervious to art and literature. 
Amid its darkness there is a ray of hope; the new 


consciousness of life, of the unborn, untemporal life, 
awakens in Ivan Ilyich just before his death. From the 
stark, grim reality that confronts the reader at every 
turn the only escape is in the spiritual life. 

In Master and Man Tolstoy resumed the same theme, 
the kindling in a callous soul of a spark of spiritual 
truth. The setting is the same as in the youthful Snow- 
storm (1856), but what a difference in tone! A coarse, 
skinflint merchant, driving with his peasant workman, 
is overtaken by a snowstorm. He sees the peasant 
freezing to death, throws himself upon him, and warms 
him with the heat of his own body. Himself dying, he 
feels the bliss of self-sacrifice. The peasant survives 
while the merchant perishes. 

The same theme of conversion occurs in The Power 
of Darkness, & ghastly drama of peasant life, founded on 
an incident that had actually come before a court in 
Tula. As a mere literary achievement, it is remarkable 
that Tolstoy at the age of fifty-eight should have been 
able to take up the dramatic form. In 1863, to be sure, 
he had written two comedies, neither of which has 
been published, and in 1870 he had a period of intense 
enthusiasm for the drama, reading eagerly Shakespeare, 
Moliere, and Goethe. Nevertheless the dramatic form 
was essentially new to him. His novels are as little 
dramatic as any ever written; the attempts to recast 
Anna Karenin and Resurrection as acting plays have 
resulted in dismal parodies. Conversation in his stories 
is relatively insignificant and commonplace, while 


very much depends on the description of accessories, 
manner, and gesture, and on the analysis of the char- 
acters' thoughts. Tolstoy himself likened the difference 
between a novel and a drama to that between paint- 
ing and sculpture. He told Feinermann of his diffi- 

The whole difference between the novel and the drama I 
came to understand when I set to work on my Power of Dark- 
ness. At first I attacked it with those novelist's methods to 
which I was more accustomed. But after the first pages I 
saw that here matters were different. Here it was impossible, 
for example, to prepare the crises of the heroes' experiences, 
impossible to make them think on the stage and remember 
things, to light up their characters by digressions into the 
past — all this is tiresome, wearisome, and unnatural. One 
needs crises already prepared. Before the public there must 
be states of the soul already formed, decisions that have been 
adopted. Only such reliefs of the soul, such chiseled forms 
in mutual collisions agitate and touch the spectator. 

But monologues and various transitions with tableaux and 
tones of voice — all such things disgust the spectator, who begins 
to regret that the chairs were not set with their backs to the 
stage. To be sure, I did not restrain myself, and I inserted 
several monologues in The Power of Darkness, but, while in- 
serting them, I felt that I was not acting properly. It is hard 
for an old novelist to refrain from that, as it is hard for a coach- 
man to hold in his horses, when a heavy coach is pressing down 
on them from a slope. — [Teneromo: Life and Conversations 
of L. N. Tolstoy, p. 40.*] 

* In general, information furnished by Feinermann must be received 
with caution, but this account smacks of the truth. 


That Tolstoy could overcome these difficulties, 
change his whole technique, concentrate his action 
and make the conversation tell the story, and, finally, 
that he could produce a drama that is not only the most 
powerful in all Russian literature, but one which has been 
recognized as among the masterpieces of the modern 
realistic drama, influencing for example the develop- 
ment of the drama in Germany, is a new proof of his 
many-sided literary genius. 

It is strange also that this grewsome play should 
be based on the life of the peasantry, the class from 
which Tolstoy drew his religious inspiration. The 
drama proves that Tolstoy had his eyes open to peasant 
conditions, seeing about him no sentimental "sweet 
Auburn." The sturdy industry and faith of certain 
peasant types had aided in his own conversion, but he 
had made no false artistic generalization from them. 

In a peasant family a wife deserts her sickly husband 
and sins with a lusty young laborer, Nikita. Her con- 
federate and helper is Nikita's mother. Nikita also 
intrigues with the woman's half-witted daughter, who 
bears a child. This child Nikita and the wife murder. 
The play ends with Nikita's confession of his sins; 
remorse of conscience has overwhelmed him. The 
influence towards righteousness in the play is Nikita's 
father, the old cesspool-cleaner Akim, the man of God. 
The play is a tragedy of darkness and degradation, a 
repulsive picture of village wickedness beside which 
The Widow in the Bye Street seems pale. The conversion 


in it is not a tour de force, brought in to teach a moral 
lesson; it follows naturally from what we have learned 
of Nikita's character. Tolstoy followed the advice 
that he himself gave to Feinermann: "Do not crush 
or bend to suit your own purposes the events of a tale, 
but follow it wherever it leads you."* 

In this play the evil influences all come from women. 
One must admit that in his later works Tolstoy con- 
stantly expresses an unfavorable view of feminine 
character. Woman lacks the idealism of man; she can 
form no new philosophy of life, nor understand one when 
it is presented to her. (Tolstoy, despite his love and 
devotion for his wife, was doubtless affected by her 
failure to adopt his religious views.) Tolstoy's condem- 
nation of women flows from the ascetic side of his ethical 
system, which constantly becomes more prominent. 
This aspect of his teaching reaches its utmost develop- 
ment in The Kreutzer Sonata (1889). 

Tolstoy's greatest novels had been panegyrics upon 
family life. At the close of What Shall We Do Then? 
(1886) he had devoted to motherhood some of his most 
eloquent pages. Now, in The Kreutzer Sonata, written 
only three years later, he definitely reverses himself 
and adopts a position like that of St. Paul (in I Corin- 
thians, vii, 1-11). Absolute celibacy is the ideal for 
every virtuous man, while promiscuity is the sin that 
must be shunned most of all. Marriage is a half-way 

* Letter of December, 1886; in Letters, collected by Serg&yeriko 
(Moscow, 1910) : I, 153. 


station, a compromise, not absolutely sinful, but full of 
danger and without inspiration. Such is the philos- 
ophy that underlies his new picture of family rela- 

In a railway train a murderer, Pozdnyshev, pours 
out to a chance acquaintance the story of his life. In 
his youth he had acted like most young men, consorting 
freely with harlots and regarding the indulgence of his 
sexual desires in the same light as drinking or smoking. 
Then he had married. His life with his wife was based 
on sexual desire, not on any unselfish love, but still he 
counted himself a moral man because he was not out- 
wardly unfaithful to her. Quarrels were continual; 
there was no mutual esteem. They had children, who, 
however, meant little to them. The wife, who was 
the feminine counterpart of her husband, found the care 
of children irksome, and with a doctor's aid took means 
to avoid having more. When she was freed from child- 
bearing and nursing, her sexual impulses remained the 
same, while her attractiveness increased. Other men 
paid her attentions, notably a violinist. The husband 
became wildly jealous, particularly so one evening when 
his wife and the violinist were playing together the 
Kreutzer Sonata of Beethoven, music that in a drawing 
room, where there are women in decollete, arouses, 
according to Tolstoy, the most sensual feelings. Pozdny- 
shev left home, and returned late at night, convinced of 
his wife's falsity; he seized a dagger, and, finding the 
woman with her lover, he stabbed her. He was ac- 


quitted by the court on the ground of having been 
justified in his vengeance. 

Among all Tolstoy's works, The Kreutzer Sonata is 
the most horrible in its plainness of speech — and this 
despite a slight modification that the author introduced 
at the urging of his wife. Tolstoy lays bare the crude 
medical facts of life without the faintest gauzy covering 
of romanticism. The book is a sermon on modern 
tampering with the sex instinct. Its readers instinctively 
denounce the whole sex impulse as vile and low. 

The Kreutzer Sonata raised a fury of disgust in so- 
ciety, a fury that was more than half hypocrisy. In 
America it was for a time forbidden the right of trans- 
mission through the mails, as an immoral work. To 
explain his parable, Tolstoy added a postscript, in which 
he details the Russian attitude to the sexual life, one 
very different from the English Puritan tradition. Grati- 
fication of the sexual instinct is not regarded as a sin, 
and parents teach their children how to indulge it 
without risk of disease. Married men have intercourse 
with their wives during pregnancy, thus violating the 
laws of nature. Women sterilize themselves that they 
may indulge their lusts and aid men in lust without 
the bringing forth of children, the only thing that can 
justify the yielding to sexual feeling. All this Tolstoy 
denounces as bad. The way out is not to compromise 
with the sex feeling, as is likely to be the case in mar- 
riage, but to strive for the ideal of absolute chastity. 
This will, he admits, lead to the extinction of the human 


race. But no one has proved that the perpetuation of a 
lustful race is in itself a good. As the race advances in 
self-control it may well die out. 

We have seen (page 259) how Tolstoy had written in 
his diary in 1881: "The family is flesh. To abandon 
one's family is the second temptation — to kill oneself. 
The family is one body. But do not yield to the third 
temptation: serve not the family, but God alone." 
Then he was still on the sane ground of compromise, of 
regulating natural impulses rather than extinguishing 
them. Now asceticism has led him into a more con- 
sistent position, of mortification of the flesh. He writes 
in his Epilogue to The Kreutzer Sonata: 

I was horrified at my own conclusions and wished not to 
believe them, but it was impossible not to believe them. And 
however much these conclusions contradict the whole order 
of our life, however much they contradict what I previ- 
ously thought and even expressed, I was obliged to accept 

Passages in Tolstoy's Journal for 1897 and 1898 show 
his altered point of view: 

All calamities which are born from sex relations, from being 
in love, come from this, that we confuse fleshly lust with 
spiritual life, with — terrible to say — love; we use our reason 
not to condemn and limit this passion, but to adorn it with the 
peacock feathers of spirituality. Here is where les extremes 
se touchent. To attribute every attraction between the sexes 
to sex desire seems very materialistic, but, on the contrary, 


it is the most spiritual point of view: to distinguish from the 
realm of the spiritual everything winch does not belong to it, 
in order to be able to value it highly. — [The Journal of Leo 
Tolstoi, 1895-1899, translated by Strunsky: p. 154.] 

Yesterday there was a conversation about the same thing: 
Is exclusive love [love of one woman] good? The resume is this: 
a moral man will look on exclusive love — it is all the same 
whether he be married or single — as on evil and will fight it; 
the man who is little moral will consider it good and will 
encourage it. An entirely unmoral man does not even under- 
stand it and makes fun of it. — [Ibid., p. 222.] 

No student of the religious life, or, more concretely, 
no admirer of St. Paul, no respecter of a chaste, celibate, 
duty-loving priest, can throw a stone at Tolstoy for the 
conclusion he has reached. The ascetic impulse created 
monasticism in Buddhism and in Christianity. Tolstoy 
after his religious conversion rejected monasticism, 
maintaining that he would remain in the world and 
still serve God.* But now he advocates an ideal that 
is essentially monastic; his aspirations at this stage of 
his progress might be summed up as poverty, chastity, 
and disobedience. What the medieval church enjoined 
as an ideal on a few men Tolstoy announces as a uni- 
versal human duty; his now democratic soul will make 
no distinction between monk and worldling, priest and 
layman. The church, following St. Paul and other 
teachers, separated its clergy from the worldly life by 
depriving them of wives, not to speak of promiscuous 
*My Religion, ch. 10: cf. p. 250, 


intercourse; Tolstoy will prescribe the same remedy for 
all men, and he gives reasons for his doctrine founded on 
the modern conditions that he sees about him. But he 
still is inconsistent: suicide would be the next logical 
step in self-abnegation, and that Tolstoy continues to 
abhor. Buddhists and Christians may be withheld 
from suicide by its futility; men cannot hope to escape a 
temporal life after death. Tolstoy, not yet restrained 
by any such belief, should logically have accepted 
suicide as a release from the ills of the flesh. Suicide by 
violence, to be sure, would have contradicted his cardinal 
principle of non-resistance to evil by violence: for this 
same reason he rejects self-mutilation as a means of 
attaining chastity, and condemns the Russian sect of 
Eunuchs for their practice of it. By violence they 
hinder the production of future generations who might 
attain an ideal of voluntary chastity unknown to them.* 
But suicide by self-starvation would hardly be open to 
this objection; it would be only the extreme develop- 
ment of Tolstoy's doctrine of self-denial. Asceticism 
and the passion for renunciation of the life of the body, 
however, never led Tolstoy to this abyss. Worthy of 
admiration are his clear perception that any ethical 
ideal, to be sound, must be valid for all men and women, 
and his attempt, however inadequate, to justify his 
position on that basis. Here, as has been noted (page 
253), he is a follower of Kant, a rationalist. Illogical 

* On the Sex Question (Thoughts of L. N. Tolstoy, collected by Vladimir 


though his doctrine may be, it is at least more consistent 
than the temporizing systems developed under Buddhism 
and Christianity, with their prescription of varying ideals 
for priest and layman. For Tolstoy the moralist, with 
his doctrine that the body is the source of all human ills, 
the sexual impulse must ultimately prove wholly re- 

Father Sergy and The Devil are kindred in spirit to 
The Kreutzer Sonata. The former has been already 
mentioned (page 286). It represents woman as the 
great temptress of man, the chief obstacle to a righteous 
life. Father Sergy resists the seduction of a beautiful 
courtesan only to submit later to that of a merchant's 
daughter. Yielding, his phrase is: "Marya, you are a 

The devil of the second story is the same. A young 
landowner in his bachelor days has an intrigue with a 
peasant woman. After his marriage to a woman of his 
own class temptation from his former mistress returns 
upon him. Unable to resist, he kills himself. One 
thinks of Tolstoy's confession to Maude, that his desire 
for women was the hardest to overcome of all his animal 
passions, and of his entry in his diary for 1903: "I am 
now experiencing the torments of hell: I remember all 
the abominations of my former life. Those recollections 
do not leave me, and they poison my life."* He notes 
characteristically at the close of his story that none 
could comprehend the cause of the suicide. Sin such as 
* Maude: I. 52; II, 402. 


that with which the man struggled seemed the most 
commonplace act to those about him. 

With the tone of these works one may compare entries 
in Tolstoy's diary for August, 1898: 

Woman — and the legends say it also — is the tool of the 
devil. She is generally stupid, but the devil lends her his 
brain when she works for him. Here you see, she has done 
miracles of thinking, far-sightedness, constancy, in order to 
do something nasty; but as soon as something not nasty is 
needed, she cannot understand the simplest thing; she can- 
not see further than the present moment and there is no self- 
control and no patience (except child-birth and the care of 

All this concerns women, un-Christians, unchaste women, 
as are all the women of our Christian world. Oh, how I would 
like to show to women all the significance of a chaste woman ! 
A chaste woman (not in vain is the legend of Mary) will save 
the world. — [The Journal of Leo Tolstoi, 1895-1899, translated 
by Strunsky: pp. 251, 252.] 

Strangely enough, while Tolstoy was at work on his 
acrid denunciation of family life in The Kreutzer Sonata 
he was also writing a genial comedy, for his children 
to present at private theatricals, The Fruits of Enlighten- 
ment. The zealot had not absorbed the jocose and merry 

The Fruits of Enlightenment presents to us a well-to-do 
Russian family, in which the father is a spiritualist, 
and the mother a fanatic on the germ theory. In 
seventeenth-century England it would have been called 


a comedy of "humors," of eccentric types. The thread 
of action is supplied by some peasants, who have come 
to town wishing to buy land. A clever chambermaid, 
Tanya, at a spiritualistic seance contrives to trick 
her master Zvezdintsev (Star-gazer) into signing the 
deed. The character of Tanya is the mainspring of the 
comedy. Her natural good sense overcomes the pom- 
pous folly of the master and mistress and their learned 
friend Professor Krugosvetlov (Round-the-world-boy). 
The play is full of deliciously humorous situations and 
excellent comic dialogue. Tolstoy's moral enthusiasm 
is here tempered by fun; he pours out copious ridicule 
on aristocratic gluttony and credulity. Here we see the 
Tolstoy of the home circle, the merry contributor to the 

In the earlier portions of Resurrectio?i, which were 
probably written about 1888, there are pages that by 
their impartial, slightly satirical picture of Russian high 
society suggest Tolstoy's earlier work. But the book as a 
whole is a controversial pamphlet, attacking fiercely both 
church and state. 

A rich young Russian of gentle birth, Prince Dmitry 
Nekhlyudov — the name is the same as that of one of the 
main characters in Youth and in some others of Tolstoy's 
early works — meets at his aunts' house a young girl of 
the humblest origin, Katyusha, who lives with his aunts 
half as protegee, half as chambermaid. Her freshness 
and girlish charm tempt him, and he seduces her. The 
scene depicting the seduction, while wholly free from 


sensual details, is written in Tolstoy's most vivid style. 
Nekhlyudov deserts Katyusha, leaving money as pay- 
ment for his crime. The girl, he is told, bears a child, 
and is expelled from the house, but he learns nothing 
further of her. In reality she sinks into misery and 
becomes a common prostitute, living in a house of ill- 
fame. To this place comes a merchant, bent on enjoy- 
ing himself in a strange city. He is murdered at a hotel, 
and suspicion falls on Katyusha, who has been his com- 
panion. She is arraigned for the crime, and Nekhlyudov 
is drawn as a juror for the trial of the case. Seated in 
the box, he recognizes the accused as the girl whom he had 
corrupted years before. A wave of repentance and 
contrition sweeps over him. At the trial, through a 
misunderstanding on the part of the jurors, the girl is 
condemned for the murder, of which she is innocent, and 
is sentenced to life exile in Siberia. Nekhlyudov seeks in 
vain to have the sentence reversed. Overcome by re- 
morse, he gives up his position in society, breaks his 
engagement with a rich young woman, and follows 
Katyusha into Siberia. She refuses persistently his 
offer of marriage. At last a pardon comes for her from 
the tsar. She marries one of her fellow exiles. Ne- 
khlyudov finds that a new life has dawned for him in the 
spirit of Christ's five commandments, which are naturally 
those expounded by Tolstoy in My Religion. A con- 
version such as for Tolstoy was the work of years takes 
place in Nekhlyudov in a few weeks. 

Into Resurrection Tolstoy pours out all his contempt 


for government institutions, above all for courts of law 
and for prisons. He pictures judges and advocates, 
who condemn men for crimes for which they themselves 
are spiritually responsible. He describes the types of 
criminals met by Katyusha on her journey, men and 
women who, if guilty, have been led astray by the 
hard circumstances of life rather than by badness of heart. 
Meanwhile a priest is performing a mummery called a 
sacrament, which does no good and merely extorts 
hard-earned money from peasants; and a fashionable 
English preacher — the reflection of a real missionary, 
Lord Radstock — tells idle aristocrats that they may be 
saved by faith in the merits of Christ rather than by 
their owm good lives. 

In technique, Resurrection, with its digressions and 
its discussions of social questions, reverts to Tolstoy's 
earlier manner. Though it lacks the comprehensive 
sympathy of War and Peace and Anna Karenin, it has 
pages of wonderful beauty and strength. In the prison 
scenes the author's insight sheds human kindliness over 
the most wretched surroundings. His frankness of 
speech, however, gave offence, though to a less degree 
than in The Kreutzer Sonata. A letter of the English 
Quaker John Bellows refers to the matter: 

One thing I had to get through at our last Committee 
was the question of the novel Tolstoy wrote to help the Dou- 
khobor migration expenses — Resurrection. Our people received 
£150 of the proceeds; but the work is an objectionable one 
in its giving far too full details of "smutty" things; and my wife 


and I felt we had better sacrifice this sum ourselves rather 
than let the Society of Friends be in complicity with its publi- 
cation. So I paid the sum back out of my own pocket, and 
then wrote Tolstoy a long and earnest letter on the subject, 
to which he has as yet not sent a reply; but his friend who 
helped the translation, etc., came to the Committee to defend 
it against my charges. The Committee, however, took my 
view, and unanimously condemned the work as unfit for our 
homes; and ordered the £150 to be refunded to me. 

Tolstoy's delayed reply to Bellows was as follows: 

7th of December, 1901. 
Dear Friend, 

I received your letter and meant to answer it; but the last 
two months I have been so weak that I could not do it, so you 
must excuse me my long silence. 

I read your letter twice and considered the matter as well as 
I could, and could not arrive at a definite solution of the ques- 
tion. You may be right, but I think not for every person which 
[sic] will read the book. It can have a bad influence over per- 
sons who will read not the whole book and not take in the sense 
of it. It might also have quite the opposite influence so as it 
was intended to. All that I can say in my defence is, that when 
I read a book, the chief interest for me is the Weltanschauung 
des Autors: what he likes and what he hates. And I hope 
that the reader which will read my book with the same view 
will find out what the author likes or dislikes and will be in- 
fluenced with the sentiments of the author, and I can say that 
when I wrote the book I abhorred with all my heart the lust, 
and to express this abhorrence was one of the chief aims of 
the book. 


If I have failed in it I am very sorry, and I am pleading 
guilty if I was so inconsiderate in the scene of which you write 
that I could have produced such a bad impression on your 

I think that we will be judged by our conscience and by 
God, not for the results of our deeds which we cannot know, 
but for our intentions, and I hope that my intentions were not 
bad. Yours truly, 

Leo Tolstoy.* 

As to matters of this sort there may be a legitimate 
difference of opinion. One may note that in 1893 Tolstoy 
wrote to his wife that it was "of course too early" 
for their fourteen-year-old son Mikhail to read 
Anna Karenin.j And when The Kreutzer Sonata was 
read aloud in his home he admitted that it was 
"better for the young ladies to leave." t 

In The Living Corpse, an unfinished drama, a drunken, 
worthless fellow disappears from sight in order to spare 
his family the disgrace of his presence. Tolstoy presents 
him as morally superior to the self-satisfied followers of 
convention who remain respected and honored members 
of society. For once Tolstoy seems to have adopted 
the manner of Dostoyevsky. 

There is rare charm in Hadji Murad, a tale which by its 
subject matter takes us back to the days of Tolstoy's 
youthful service in the Caucasus. Hadji Murad was a 

* John Bellows: Letters and Memoir (London, 1905) : pp. 361, 362. 

t Letters to Wife, p. 445. 

j Tsinger, in On Tolstoy, p. 380. 


Mohammedan warrior, second only to Shamil himself in 
his tenacious resistance to the Russians. Tolstoy tells his 
story in a simple, matter-of-fact way, with full delight in 
his physical strength and bravery. The old hunter and 
warrior was never quite lost in Tolstoy the saint. Tolstoy 
loved adventure even in books; he wrote to his wife 
(1897) that the death of Alexander Dumas had affected 
him in the same way as that of Henry George.* The 
opening paragraphs of Tolstoy's tale are especially 

I was returning home through the fields. It was mid- 
summer. They had already mowed the meadows and were 
just beginning to reap the rye. 

There is a delightful choice of flowers at that time of year: 
red, white, and pink fragrant, fluffy clover; milk-white daisies 
with their bright yellow centers and pleasant spicy smell; 
yellow rape, with its scent of honey; towering, purple and 
white, tulip-like campanulas; creeping vetch; yellow, red, 
and pink scabiosa; regular, purple plantain, with a faintly 
pinkish down and a barely perceptible pleasant scent; corn 
flowers, bright blue in the sun and in their youth, but light 
blue and reddening in the evening and as they grow old; and 
tender, almond-scented, quickly withering convolvulus. 

I had gathered a large bouquet of various flowers and 
was walking home, when I noticed in the ditch a marvelous 
purple thistle in full bloom, of the sort that we call "Tatar," 
and which the mowers carefully avoid, and, when it is acci- 
dentally mown, cast out from the hay, in order not to prick 

* Letters to Wife, p. 532. 


their hands on it. The thought came to me of plucking tins 
thistle and putting it in the middle of my bouquet. I stepped 
down into the ditch, and, after driving away a bumble-bee 
that had nestled down into the center of the flower and had 
there gone sweetly and idly to sleep, I set to plucking the 
blossom. But this was very hard: the stem not only pricked 
me from all sides, even through the handkerchief that I had 
wrapped around my hand, but was so terribly tough that I 
struggled with it for some five minutes, breaking one fiber 
after another. When at last I had torn off the flower, the stem 
was all in shreds, and the flower no longer seemed so fresh 
and beautiful. Besides this, with its coarseness and roughness 
it did not go with the delicate flowers of the bouquet. I 
felt sorry that I had uselessly ruined the flower, which had 
been good in its own place, and I cast it aside. "Yet what 
energy and force of life," I thought, remembering the efforts 
with which I had torn off the flower. "With what vigor it 
defended itself and how dear it sold its life." . . . 

And I remembered a story of the Caucasus of long ago, part 
of which I had seen, part heard from eye-witnesses, and part 

This joy in flowers appears repeatedly in Tolstoy's 
letters. In truth, the love of beauty was always one of 
Tolstoy's passions. And yet, when he came to write a 
treatise on esthetics, in What is Art? (1898), he won 
fame, or shall we say notoriety, by denying that beauty 
is a necessary or important element in works of art. 

What is Art? is on the one hand an expansion of the 
idea as to the popular, infectious character of great 
art that Tolstoy had expressed twenty-six years earlier 


in his article on Yasnaya Poly ana School (see pp. 119-121), 
and on the other an obvious corollary to his ethical 
system. His fundamental thought, and fundamental 
error, is that beauty has nothing to do with true art. 
To the demolition of this view he devotes an introduction 
in which he reviews the theories of preceding writers on 
esthetics. He likewise disapproves of the attempt to 
construct a definition of art by scientific induction from 
objects of art: 

All existing systems of esthetics are constructed on this 
plan. Instead of giving a definition of true art, and then 
deciding what is and what is not art by judging whether a 
given production suits or does not suit that definition, a 
certain class of productions that for some reason please people 
of a certain set are recognized as art, and a definition of art 
is devised that will cover all these productions. — [What is Art?, 
ch. 4.] 

Yet Tolstoy's own definition is itself founded on in- 
duction, though on an induction so swift and simple 
that he does not recognize it as such; and it is a definition 
that in no way excludes beauty from the province of 
art or even prevents it from being an essential feature of 
art. His definition is, briefly, that art consists in the 
conscious transfer of emotion: 

To call forth in oneself a feeling that has been once ex- 
perienced, and, after calling it forth in oneself, to transfer 
that feeling by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or 
images expressed in words, so that others may experience 


the same feeling — in this consists the activity of art. Art 
is an activity of man which consists in this, that one man 
consciously, by certain external signs, transfers to others 
feelings experienced by him, and other men are infected with 
these feelings and live through them. — [Ch. 5.] 

This definition belongs to the emotionalist school of 
esthetics. Tolstoy has taken a definition by Veron, 
which he cites (ch. 3) as: "Art is the manifestation of 
feeling, transferred externally, by means of a grouping 
of lines, forms, or colors, or by a succession of gestures, 
sounds, or words, subjected to certain rhythms,"* and 
has added to it the self-evident supplement that the 
artist must so express his emotion that it will be felt by 
other men who come in contact with his production. 

Obviously this definition, if accepted, does not pre- 
vent beauty from being an important, or even con- 
ceivably an essential element in art. For surely the sense 
of pleasure in the harmony of line, color, or sound is an 
emotion that an artist may experience and wish to 
convey to others. Tolstoy sees the danger and vainly 
tries to escape it. He has admitted that ornaments may 
be objects of good art. He then adds: 

I fear that here I shall be reproached that, while denying 
that the concept of beauty constitutes an object of art, I 
here once more recognize beauty as an object of art. This 
reproach is unjust, because the artistic content of ornaments 
of all sorts consists not in their beauty, but in the feeling of 

*See Veron: /Esthetics, translated by Armstrong (London, 1879), 
p, 89. 


delight and admiration for a combination of lines or colors 
which the artist experiences and with which he infects the 
spectator. Art has been, is, and can be nothing else than 
the infection by one man of another or others with the feeling 
which the infecter has experienced. Among these feelings is 
the feeling of delight in what pleases the sight. And objects 
that please the sight may be such as please a small number 
of men, or a larger number, or such as please all men. And 
peculiarly such are all ornaments. A landscape of a very 
exceptional locality, a very special genre, may not please all, 
but ornaments, from those of the Yakuts to those of the 
Greeks, are accessible to all and arouse the same feeling of 
admiration in all, and therefore in a Christian community 
this species of neglected art should be prized much more 
highly than exclusive, pretentious paintings and sculptures. — 
[What Is AH?, ch. 16.] 

But what is "the feeling of delight and admiration for 
a combination of lines or colors" except the sense of 
beauty, the feeling of pleasure in an artistic production, 
which Tolstoy affects so to despise? 

Leaving then the soundness of Tolstoy's definition of 
art as something over which estheticians may wrangle, 
let us merely point out that the definition is not a conse- 
quence of his ethical theory, is not moralistic; and that 
it does not exclude from art the element of beauty: 
that it might be used, by critics of other temperament 
than his own, to justify works of art that he condemns, 
and to condemn those that he praises. Tolstoy's pe- 
culiarity, his originality, lies not in his definition of art, 
but in his use of that definition; and namely, in his 


instant connection with it of his whole ascetico-al- 
truistic ethical system. This connection he makes 
very simply. 

Primarily, all purposed communication of feeling is 
art; a boy meets a wolf in the woods, and later, telling 
of the incident to his companions, imparts to them the 
feeling of fear that he has himself experienced. But — 

we call art in the narrow sense of the word not all human 
activity that communicates feelings, but only such activity 
as we for some reason separate from all this activity and to 
which we assign special significance. Such special significance 
all men have always assigned to that part of this activity 
which communicated feelings flowing from the religious 
consciousness of men; and this small part of all art they have 
called art in the full sense of this word. — [Ch. 5.] 

Hence at all times art that has expressed the ideas of 
the reigning religion has been regarded as good art, 
that which contradicted it as bad art: 

If religion places the sense of life in earthly happiness, 
in beauty and strength, then the joy and vigor of life com- 
municated by art will be regarded as good art; but art which 
communicates a feeling of effeminacy or dejection will be 
bad art, as it was recognized among the Greeks. . . . 

Christianity of the earliest times recognized as good pro- 
ductions of art only legends, lives of saints, sermons, prayers, 
and hymn-singing that evoked in men feelings of love for 
Christ, tender reverence for his life, desire to follow his ex- 
ample, renunciation of the life of the world, humility and 


love of men; but all productions that communicated feelings 
of personal enjoyment it regarded as bad, and therefore it 
rejected all heathen plastic art, admitting only symbolic 
plastic representations. — [What Is Art?, ch. 6.] 

Ecclesiastic Christianity, though a corruption of 
Christ's teaching, was nevertheless a higher conception 
than paganism. It gave birth to true art, in architecture, 
painting, sculpture, music, and literature. But after 
the Renaissance men lost faith in the church and did 
not return to the religion of primitive Christianity, 
which was retained or attained only by a few men such 
as Francis of Assisi and Chelcicky. The upper classes, 
left without religion, went back to the base pagan con- 
ception of the Greeks, which made the meaning of life 
consist in beauty and enjoyment, a conception that 
Plato had already condemned. On this conception 
modern art is based; it is therefore nothing but an imita- 
tion of pagan art. To justify this pagan art men have 
invented esthetic theories, of which the most typical 
is that of Baumgarten, with his triad of the Good, the 
Beautiful, and the True, "from which it appears that 
the best that can be done by the art of nations who have 
lived the Christian life for 1800 years consists in choosing 
as the ideal of their life the one held 2000 years ago by a 
half-savage, slave-holding little people, which imitated 
very well the nakedness of the human body and erected 
buildings pleasant to look at."* 

*What is Art?, ch. 7. Tolstoy himself had once believed in this 
triad: see p. 102, above. 


But the members of this triad are in no way coor- 

The good is the eternal, highest aim of our life. How- 
ever we may understand the good, our life is nothing else than 
a striving towards the good, that is, towards God. . . . 

But beauty, if we do not content ourselves with words, 
but speak of what we understand, beauty is nothing else than 
what pleases us. 

The concept of beauty not only does not coincide with the 
good, but rather is opposed to it, since the good generally 
coincides with victory over our inclinations, while beauty is 
the foundation of all our inclinations. The more we give our- 
selves up to beauty, the more we withdraw from the good. . . . 

By truth we mean only the correspondence of the ex- 
pression or definition of an object with its essence, or with the 
general understanding of an object common to all men. What 
is there in common between the concepts of beauty and truth 
on the one hand and that of good on the other ? . . . Truth . . . 
is one of the means for the attainment of the good, but in it- 
self truth is neither the good, nor beauty, and does not even 
coincide with them. — [Ch. 7.] 

In these pages Tolstoy reiterates the aversion to 
modern tendencies in science and art that he had already 
expressed in What Shall We Do Then ? Science and art 
in themselves he never rejected, exclaiming fervently: 

I not only do not deny science, that is, the rational activity 
of man, and art, the expression of that rational activity; 
but only in the name of that rational activity and its ex- 
pressions do I say what I say; only in order that there may be 


a possibility for humanity to emerge from the savage con- 
dition into which it is swiftly falling, thanks to the false teach- 
ing of our time — only for this do I say what I say. 

Science and art are as necessary for men as food and drink 
and clothing, even more necessary. . . . 

[True] science has always had as its subject the knowledge of 
what is the mission, and therefore the true good, of each man 
and of all men. . . . 

Ever since men have existed, true art, that which has been 
highly prized by men, has had no other meaning than the 
expression of the mission and the good of man. 

Always and up to the latest times art has served the teach- 
ing of life, what was later termed religion, and only then 
was it what men prized so highly. But at the same time 
that into the place of the science of the mission and the good 
of men there stepped a science about anything one happens 
to think of — from the time that science lost its sense and 
meaning, and men began contemptuously to give the name 
religion to genuine science — from that time on art also vanished 
as an important activity of man. — [What Shall We Do Then? y 
ch. 36.] 

That is to say, science has abandoned the care of man's 
spiritual welfare in order to devote itself to his bodily 
comfort. Hence the useless truth of modern science is 
even detrimental to right living. This rejection has been 
already discussed (pp. 276, 277). Now Tolstoy states 
with equal fervor his rejection of modern art: he who 
in his earlier life had been in raptures over the beauty of 
Greek literature, above all of the pagan Homer (see pp. 
68, 140; cf. p. 353); he who so loved flowers, which are 


the natural emblems of something else than Christian 
asceticism! Since the later pages of his book are in 
part deductions from the principles that have been set 
forth, we may pause for a moment to examine those 

In his connection of art with religion, Tolstoy is 
absolutely sound, if one accepts his definition of religion. 
For him religion is not a system of dogmas, promulgated 
from a supernatural source and upheld by a hieratic 
organization; it is the life conception of each individual 
man, the complex of fundamental ideas which each 
man, whether consciously or unconsciously, holds as to 
himself and his relations to his fellow men and to the 
general world order, and by which he regulates his 
conduct. When Tolstoy says that a man lacks religion, 
he means that he has no true religion; that he is a 
pagan, guided by the lusts of the flesh, that his re- 
ligion is that of the animal personality, not that of the 
rational personality, to adopt the language of his book, 
On Life. Now, since each man's art, or enjoyment of 
other men's art, expresses his personality, it must be re- 
ligious in this broad sense of the term. All art is religious 
in embodying a certain life conception, true or false, 
high or low. Hence no man can possibly condemn art 
in itself; he condemns merely the art of men who hold 
another life conception than his own. Plato, when he 
banished poets from his ideal republic, did not like- 
wise banish philosophers, who were, in his day at least, 
equally artists; he banished merely a degraded form of 


art, a lower beauty in order to preserve a higher. A 
truly consistent Puritan would find the rigid lines and 
the aspiring wooden steeple of a Massachusetts meeting- 
house more lovely than the gorgeous mundane beauty 
of the Doges' Palace; if he does not do so, he shows that a 
spark of the fleshly Adam remains within him. So 
Tolstoy, when he says that all modern art is irreligious, 
means that it does not express his own type of ascetic 
Christian altruism. He condemns modern art, in 
general, on exactly the same grounds on which he 
condemns modern society. If, though we reject Tolstoy's 
ethics, we find much inspiration in his criticism of 
modern society, so we may find much that is admirable 
in his critique of modern art. He is on the other side 
of the golden mean (a term that he would despise) 
from most modern tendencies. But his departure from 
that mean is more strident in his criticism of art than in 
his social criticism. For a man's art, more frequently 
than his social activity — and with good reason — tends to 
be an expression of his unascetic, unaltruistic enjoy- 
ment of life, and to appeal to the same instincts in other 

The first consequence of the irreligious quality of 
modern art, Tolstoy continues, is that it has become 
exclusive, the property of a small circle of men, the 
irreligious, idle upper classes, and is incomprehensible 
to the masses of toiling humanity. One may at once 
query whether the Sunday newspapers and cheap 
magazines that furnish reading matter to the toiling 


masses of the United States are more religious in any 
sense of the term than literature of a more exclusive 
type; whether the moving-picture shows are more re- 
ligious than the Metropolitan Art Museum — but we must 
let Tolstoy state his case without interrupting him at 
every turn. This exclusive art, he proceeds to say, has 
become (1) impoverished in content, (2) artificial and 
obscure, without beauty of form, which is synonymous 
with clearness, and (3) insincere and affected. 

The classes for whom modern art is created crave 
only enjoyment. Their feelings may be reduced to 
three: (a) pride, (b) sexual impulse, and (c) the weari- 
ness of life. To these, and above all to the second, 
modern art must pander. It has become affected with 
an erotic mania. 

The life of a laboring man with his endlessly various forms 
of toil and the dangers connected with them on the sea and 
under the earth, with his journeys, with his association with 
employers, bosses, comrades, with men of other faiths and 
nationalities; with his struggle with nature and wild animals, 
with his relations to domestic animals; with his labors in the 
forest, on the prairie, in the field, orchard, and garden; with 
his relations to his wife and children, not only as near and 
dear persons, but as co-workers, aiders and substitutes in toil; 
with his relations to all economic questions, not as subjects for 
ratiocination or vanity, but as questions of life for him- 
self and his family; with his pride of self -contentment and 
service to men; with his joys of repose; with all these in- 
terests penetrated by a religious relation to these phenomena — 
to us, who have not these interests and have no religious 


understanding, to us this life seems monotonous in com- 
parison with those little pleasures and insignificant cares of 
our life, not of toil and not of creation, but of employment 
and destruction of what others have done for us. — [What is 
Art?, ch. 9.] 

In the second place, art destined only for a class 
strives to develop a peculiar means of expression, com- 
prehensible only to the initiated. It becomes obscure, 
hazy, mystical, symbolic, expressing itself only by 
hints. The most striking examples of this are the 
French decadent poets, Verlaine and his school. Their 
works are incomprehensible to Tolstoy and his fellows, 
trained in the habits of the first half of the nineteenth 
century. But similarly, Tolstoy continues, the artists 
whom his own contemporaries have learned to prize 
are unintelligible to the mass of humanity. Laborers 
and many who are not laborers can make nothing of 
Goethe, Schiller, Hugo, Dickens, Beethoven, Chopin, 
Raphael, Michelangelo, or Leonardo da Vinci. 

Becoming constantly poorer in content and more 
obscure in form, modern art has finally ceased even to 
be sincere; it has ceased to be real art and has become 
only the imitation of art: 

Universal art arises only when some man of the people, 
having experienced a strong feeling, has the need of com- 
municating it to men. But the art of the rich arises not 
because of the artist's need for it, but mainly because men of 
the higher classes require amusements, for which they give 


large rewards. The men of the rich classes require from art 
the transfer of feelings pleasant to them, and the artists 
try to satisfy these requirements. But to satisfy these require- 
ments is very hard, since men of the rich classes, passing their 
lives in idleness and luxury, require unceasing amusements 
from art; but art even of the very lowest order cannot be 
produced at will: it must be born in the artist of its own ac- 
cord. And therefore artists, in order to satisfy the demands of 
men of the higher classes, have been obliged to develop methods 
by means of which they might produce objects similar to art. 
And these methods have been developed. They are the 
following: (1) borrowing, (2) imitation, (3) strikingness, (4) 

The first method consists in borrowing from former pro- 
ductions of art either whole subjects or only separate traits of 
former poetic productions that are known to every one, and in 
working them over in such a way that with some additions 
they present something new. . . . Thus in our circle legends, 
sagas, old traditions of all sorts are regarded as poetic subjects. 
Maidens, warriors, shepherds, hermits, angels, devils in all 
forms, moonlight, thunderstorms, mountains, the sea, pre- 
cipices, flowers, long hair, lions, a Iamb, a dove, a nightingale, 
are regarded as poetic persons and objects. . . . 

The essence of the second method consists in reproducing 
the details that accompany what is described or represented. 
In the literary art this method consists in describing to the 
smallest details the external form, the faces, the clothes, the 
gestures, the sounds, the habitations of the actors, with 
all the accidental circumstances that are met with in 
life. . . . 

The third method is an action on the external feelings, an 
action often of a quite physical sort — what is called striking- 


ness or effectiveness. These effects in all the arts consist 
mainly in contrasts : in the juxtaposition of the awful and the 
tender, the beautiful and the ugly, the loud and the soft, the 
dark and the bright, the most ordinary and the most 
unusual. . . . 

The fourth method is entertainingness, that is, an intellectual 
interest joined to a production of art. Entertainingness may 
consist in a complicated plot, a method which no long time 
ago was much employed in English novels and in French 
comedies and dramas, but has now begun to go out of fashion, 
and has been replaced by documentality, that is, by a cir- 
cumstantial description either of some historic period or of 
some separate branch of contemporary life. Thus for instance 
entertainingness consists in describing in a novel Egyptian or 
Roman life, or the life of miners, or of clerks in a large shop; 
and the reader is interested and takes this interest for an 
artistic impression. — [What Is Art?, ch. 11.] 

Of all these methods Tolstoy gives copious examples, 
condemning in the process most of modern art, such 
as that of Ibsen, Maeterlinck, Puvis de Chavannes, 
Brahms, and above all Wagner, to whom he devotes a 
most entertaining tirade. 

Leaving out of account the question of the subject 
matter of art, true art is distinguished from false art 
by its infectiousness, by the degree to which it affects 
the feelings of all men: 

The stronger the infection, the better is the art as art, 
leaving out of account the subject matter — that is, independ- 
ently of the worth of the feelings that the art transfers. 


Art becomes more or less infectious in consequence of three 
conditions: (1) in consequence of the greater or less individu- 
ality of the feeling that is transferred ; (2) in consequence of the 
greater or less clearness of the transfer of that feeling; (3) in 
consequence of the sincerity of the artist, that is, the greater 
or less force with which the artist himself experiences the feeling 
that he transfers. — [Ch. 15.] 

Quite aside from these universal artistic conditions, 
the subject matter of art changes as mankind advances 
in spiritual vision. At present all true art must transfer 
not pagan feelings, but Christian feelings, the love of 
God and the love of one's neighbor: 

Christian art either arouses in men those feelings that 
through love of God and of one's neighbor draw them to ever 
greater and greater unity, and so makes them ready and ca- 
pable of that unity; or else it arouses in them those feelings 
that show them that they are already united by a unity of life's 
joys and sorrows. And therefore, the Christian art of our 
time may be and is of two sorts: (1) art that transfers feel- 
ings that flow from the religious consciousness of the position 
of man in the world, in relation to God and to his neighbor — 
religious art, and (2) art transferring the most simple feelings 
of life, but such as are accessible to all men of all the world — the 
art of common life, of a whole nation, of all the world. Only 
these two species of art may be regarded as good art in our 
time— [Ch. 16.] 

As examples of the first type of art, religious art, in 
modern times, Tolstoy cites Hugo's Les Miserables, 
Dickens' novels, especially A Tale of Two Cities and The 


Chimes, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Adam Bede, and Dos- 
toyevsky's works, especially his House of the Dead. 
He cannot cite modern literary works of the second 
type, universal art. Even Moliere's comedies, Don 
Quixote, David Copperfield, and some works of Maupas- 
sant, which approach this type, are spoiled by the ex- 
clusiveness of the feelings transferred, by an excess of 
special details of time and place, and by poverty of 
content. The great model of this type of art is the 
biblical story of Joseph and his Brethren. 

Such, in brief, is the content of Tolstoy's book on art, 
which, despite its shortcomings, may be pronounced 
the most stimulating critical work of our time, perhaps 
of all modern times. Tolstoy's definition of art is emo- 
tionalistic, and, quite properly, has nothing to do with 
morals. In estimating works of art, however, he has two 
criteria, the first emotionalistic, relating to the infectious 
quality of the work considered; the second moralistic, 
relating to its subject matter. It is obvious that he is 
still actuated by the same impulses that in 1862 made 
him condemn Beethoven and Pushkin because they are 
unintelligible to Russian peasants.* Now, however, he 
has added to his demand for universal art a demand for 
an art that shall express the Christian doctrines of self- 
sacrifice and love. 

Tolstoy's different criteria cannot be applied sep- 
arately; the emotionalistic and the moralistic must be 
mingled. Infectiousness is not an adequate test of art; 

* Compare p. 119, above. 


a well-simulated laugh or shout of pain will convey 
emotion to a baby or an idiot for whom the tale of 
Joseph and his Brethren will be unintelligible. Again, a 
clever smutty story, a tavern jest passed about by vulgar 
boys, unfortunately appeals to as universal human emo- 
tions as the story of Joseph. Thus the two classes of good 
art may be at times opposed to each other. Adam Bede 
and A Tale of Tivo Cities, Tolstoy must admit, are 
clogged with an excess of transient details that make 
them exclusive rather than universal art. One is amazed 
that Tolstoy has not cited the parable of the Prodigal 
Son, which belongs to both his classes of good art. 

Finally, if Tolstoy's ethical system is narrow and 
limited, as we have tried to show, then the art criticism 
based on it may be equally narrow and limited. Works 
of art conveying the emotions of power and beauty, the 
Iliad and the Song of the Nibelungs, Macbeth and Para- 
dise Lost, may be as worthy of admiration as Uncle 
Tom's Cabin. They may even become universal art in 
Tolstoy's sense of the term; the story of the Iliad 
has appealed to successive generations of American 
boys, and Paradise Lost in a prose translation is one of 
the favorite books of the Russian common people. If 
modern society must be fundamentally transformed, as 
Tolstoy argues in What Shall We Do Then?, then its 
art must be similarly uprooted. But if society is capable 
of reform without change in its inmost characteristics, 
then its art may be similarly lopped and pruned rather 
than cut out root and branch. In his crusade against 


art that is really immoral Tolstoy has attacked art that 
merely fails to conform to his own special type of ascetic 
and altruistic morality. Power and beauty may retain 
a place in the world along with self-sacrifice and love of 
one's neighbor. 

Then what value remains in Tolstoy's doctrine? 
One may reply at once that, just as his teaching of the 
moral purpose of art contains a fundamental truth, 
though his conception of morality is limited, so his 
theory of the universality of true art contains a kernel, 
or more than a kernel, of truth. China dolls, which 
Tolstoy correctly classes as objects of universal art, 
are not so lovely as the Venus of Milo, but only fanatics 
would care to have all dolls destroyed forever and the 
beautiful Venus preserved at that price. Folk songs may 
not be on the same esthetic plane as Beethoven's sym- 
phonies, but we should have no hesitation which to 
sacrifice. We may go still further and say that one 
would gladly part with all artistic fiction, from DapJinis 
and Chloe to Anatole France, if that were the sole 
condition on which folk tales like that of Joseph and 
his Brethren might be preserved. But fortunately no 
such alternatives will ever be presented to mankind; 
china dolls and the Venus of Milo live at peace together. 

Furthermore, we recognize in the songs of Burns, 
with their universal appeal, a higher artistic quality 
than in the lyrics of Swinburne. The general human 
interest of the first adds to their artistic value. Robinson 
Crusoe, The Pilgrim's Progress, and Tom Sawyer won 


popular success before their merits were admitted by- 
professional critics. 

Still further, all eccentric, extravagant writers, such 
as Lyly, Marini or Gongora, who through certain affec- 
tations appealed to a small literary set, have become 
mere objects of historic study, while Chaucer, Moliere, 
and Cervantes give delight to successive generations. 
Shakespeare lives by his appeal to fundamental human 
emotions, not by his whimsicality of style in Love's Labor's 

Yet, despite Tolstoy, we must admit that a certain 
cultivation, a training of the taste, is required for the 
appreciation of some really great authors, such, not- 
ably, as Dante, whom Tolstoy condemns as "ex- 
clusive" (ch. 16), or even classes among writers of pro- 
ductions that are "coarse, savage, and for us almost 
senseless" (ch. 12). But that cultivation must be such 
as does not stifle fundamental human feelings. The 
qualities that make Dante's thought valuable are those 
of our common humanity; he is a man whole and well- 
proportioned. To understand him we have to take 
pains in order to overcome certain external obstacles, but 
we are rewarded. Only a special student will make similar 
efforts to comprehend the whimsicalities of Donne and 
Cowley. An admirer of Swinburne is obliged to acknowl- 
edge his shortcomings; he rightly admires his beauty 
of line, but confesses that to appreciate him one must 
lay aside for the moment intellectual and moral criteria 
and give himself up to purely sensuous enjoyment. 


In discussing critical principles in What is Art? Tol- 
stoy as a rule does not generalize from his own practice. 
Tolstoy the moralist is now speaking, not Tolstoy the 
master of realistic fiction. By his attack on imitation 
he condemns the very method of which he was the 
unrivaled master. His passion for simplicity now makes 
him worship the unadorned narrative of the folk tale. 
Work approaching this type he had done himself, and 
from his own labors — most of which he classes as bad 
art — he singles out for praise the stories God Sees the 
Truth and The Prisoner of the Caucasus* Fine as those 
stories are in their own kind, one may rejoice that he 
rescued and completed the manuscript of Resurrection. 
One should add, in his justification, that he himself 
always used imitation as an aid in the transfer of emotion. 
A bit of his conversation on this point is more en- 
lightening than his drastic condemnation of imitation in 
What is Art? 

No trifle can be neglected in art, because sometimes a half- 
torn-off button may light up a certain side of the life of a given 
person. And the button must be pictured without fail. But 
all one's efforts, and even the half-torn-off button, must 
be directed exclusively to the inner essence of the matter, 
and not distract the attention from what is central and im- 
portant to details and trifles, as continually happens. Some 
contemporary writer, describing the adventure of Joseph with 
Potiphar's wife, would be sure to seize the chance of showing 

* Included in his Third and Fourth Readers (see p. 88) ; the second 
must not be confused with Pushkin's poem of the same title (see 
p. 50) 


off his knowledge of life, and would write : " * Come unto me/ 
languidly uttered the wife of Potiphar, stretching out to 
Joseph her hand, tender from aromatic ointments, with such 
and such accessories," and so forth. And all these details 
would not only not light up more brightly the essence 
of the matter, but would inevitably make it dim. — [Sergeyen- 
ko: How Count Tolstoy Lives and Works (Moscow, 1898), 
p. 65.] 

On the other hand, in his condemnation of borrovnng, 
strihingness, and entertainingness, Tolstoy utters prin- 
ciples that relate more to his own practice than to his 
moral system. For it is hard to see any discrepancy 
between "borrowing" such as Tolstoy censures and 
either universality or the Christian ideal of love expressed 
in art, such as he advocates. It is in his own moral 
tales, which are really those least congenial to his 
creative impulse, that Tolstoy is most apt to borrow. 
Here he uses "hermits, angels, and devils," borrowed from 
previous stories and "regarded as poetic persons." 
In his novels he had depended on life itself, not on such 
conventional accessories. Similarly he had scorned to 
decorate War and Peace with "entertaining" details 
of a by-gone time such as furnish half the charm of 
Ivanhoe. Accepting Tolstoy's own definition of art, 
why should not a writer who feels the picturesqueness 
of a medieval tournament seek to infect others with 
that feeling? In reply Tolstoy might assert that 
such trifles have no meaning for a man with the 
Christian ideal of life. But as a matter of fact he 


had scorned such ornaments long before his moral 
ideal became fixed. So it is with strikingness, obvious 
rhetorical devices of antithesis and exaggeration. 
These the young Tolstoy had disliked so much 
that Turgenev had written of him in 1862: "The 
fear of phrases has driven Tolstoy into the most 
desperate phrases." 

The inmost convictions of Tolstoy the artist appear 
when he pronounces the central qualities Of truly infec- 
tious art to be individuality, clearness, and sincerity. 
What he means by these terms he makes more plain in 
his notable Preface to the Works of Guy de Maupassant 

Maupassant, Tolstoy tells us, "possessed that special 
gift called talent, which consists in the capacity of 
intense, concentrated attention directed on some object 
or other, according to the tastes of the author, whereby 
a man gifted with that capacity sees in the objects on 
which he directs his attention something new, something 
that others do not see." This is obviously artistic in- 
dividuality. Clearness also Maupassant possessed, and 
clearness, Tolstoy here tells us, is synonymous with 
beauty of form. 

In this dictum an essential characteristic, and an 
essential weakness, of Tolstoy the artist is made plain. 
To refute the statement that beauty is synonymous 
with clearness is hardly worth while; the matter is 
a commonplace of our rhetorics. "Your father lies 
in water five fathoms deep; his bones have turned 


into coral and his eyes into pearls," is no less clear 

Full fathom five thy father lies; 
Of his bones are coral made; 
Those are pearls that were his eyes. 

But there is a decided difference in the beauty of form of 
the two passages ! Tolstoy might reply with justice that, 
though the first passage conveys information even more 
clearly than the second, the second is clearer in the 
transference of emotion. But there is nothing in his 
writings to hint at such a retort, and much that points 
in the contrary direction. Tolstoy once expressed regret, 
for example, that Matthew Arnold had not written in 
prose such poems as Rugby Chapel and Self-dependence* 
He himself made almost no attempts at the writing of 
serious verse. More than this, though he revised his 
works of fiction with the minutest care, he seems never 
to have striven for music of style, for beauty of language 
as distinguished from beauty of substance. He strives 
to render clearly the joy of Levin or of Nikolay Rostov in 
the sunlight and the fresh air, but, like the men whom 
he is describing, he never drops into poetic phrases. 
Hence Tolstoy, of all the greatest literary masters, 
suffers least in translation. To render him well an exact 
knowledge of Russian is required, and a vigorous, supple 
command of English, but no exceptional power of sug- 
gestive expression. 
* Maude: Tolstoy and his Problems, p. 193; compare pp. 21, 22, above. 


Tolstoy's passion for clearness of expression is the 
key to his attitude towards music. Of music he was 
passionately fond; yet in his later years, as he makes 
plain in The Kreutzer Sonata, he seems to have absolutely 
feared its influence. For music arouses the emotions 
without giving them a definite direction towards either 
good or evil. 

Sincerity also Maupassant possessed, "an unfeigned 
feeling of love or hatred to what the artist represents." 
But Maupassant lacked any firm moral point of view, so 
that much of his work, despite the talent shown in it, 
is vicious and untrue to life's real meaning. He was 
apt to regard men and women as animals, controlled 
only by greed and sex impulse. His work, admirable 
on the side of artistic method, transfers feelings that 
are base and ignoble. No bit of criticism is more im- 
pressive than Tolstoy's lecture to Maupassant on this 
theme; the greatest of realists rebukes a craftsman who 
hid his lack of soul by his mastery of technique. 

Of another sort is Tolstoy's celebrated attack on 
Shakespeare, in his essay, On Shakespeare and the Drama 
(1906), in which he stigmatizes Shakespeare as "an insig- 
nificant, inartistic author, not only not moral, but di- 
rectly immoral" (ch. 8). In judging this essay one 
must allow for Tolstoy's vein of contradiction; he once 
confessed to his wife: "I should involuntarily loathe a 
man of whom they talked so much rubbish [as myself]."* 
The essay is, further, an old man's work, lacking the vigor 
* letters to Wife, p, 560. 


and cogency of his earlier pieces, and it was written 
without adequate knowledge of the subject, with some 
misstatements of fact. And yet, after making all these 
allowances, it is a critical utterance worthy of great 
respect. Tolstoy points out real defects in Shakespeare 
and admits real excellences; his divergence from sounder 
critics is in his comparative estimate of those defects 
and excellences. 

Tolstoy's primary charge against Shakespeare is that 
he lacked any religious view of life. This is true and 
just; we admire Shakespeare for his "cloudless, bound- 
less human view," not for any underlying unity of view 
as to man and his problems such as is found in many 
lesser authors, let us say in Milton and in Bunyan. 
Shakespeare, in Emerson's phrase, was "master of the 
revels to mankind"; he suggests queries as to all manner 
of human relations, but on the fundamental problem 
of human destiny, as to man's mission here on earth 
and his relation to the infinite, the question that would 
not let Tolstoy rest, he is silent. This radical difference 
in temperament blinds Tolstoy as to the glory of Shake- 
speare's unreligious art. One may remark, and Tolstoy 
might sadly admit the justice of the charge, that it 
would be possible to make a cento of passages from War 
and Peace that would give a Shakespearian impression 
of unthinking delight in the world of men here on 
earth. Shakespeare had but one side, that of contempla- 
tion of the world as it is, while to this Tolstoy added 
spiritual enthusiasm for making it a better world. The 


creator of Stiva Oblonsky is repelled by Falstaff, but 
then on occasion he would be repelled by his own crea- 
tion as well. 

Tolstoy also denies Shakespeare "external beauty, 
attained by a technique proper to a certain type of art. 
Thus, in dramatic art the technique will be: a truthful 
style, corresponding to the characters of the persons; 
a natural and at the same time touching plot; a regular 
conduct of the scenes; manifestation and development 
of feeling; and a feeling of measure in all that is repre- 
sented" (ch. 6). On the other hand he grants to 
Shakespeare the ability to express the play of emotions 
in individual scenes: 

That a great mastery in the representation of characters is 
ascribed to Shakespeare proceeds from the fact that Shake- 
speare really has a peculiarity that on superficial observation, 
taken in connection with the play of good actors, may appear 
an ability to represent characters. This peculiarity consists in 
the ability to conduct scenes in which the movement of feelings 
is expressed. However unnatural are the positions in which he 
places his persons, however unsuited to them is the language 
which he makes them speak, however characterless they are, 
the very movement of feeling, the increase in it, the change of 
it, the combination of many contradictory feelings are often 
expressed truly and strongly in some scenes of Shakespeare. 
And in the play of good actors this arouses at least for a cer- 
tain time sympathy with the persons taking part in them. 

Shakespeare, himself an actor and a clever man, knew how 
to represent, not only by speeches, but by exclamations, 
gestures, repetitions of words, the spiritual states and the 


changes of feeling that occur in the persons taking part. Thus 
in many places the persons of Shakespeare, instead of using 
words, merely exclaim or weep, or in the midst of a monologue 
often show by gestures the sadness of their condition (thus Lear 
asks to have his button undone), or in a moment of strong 
agitation ask the same question several times over and make 
persons repeat the word that particularly strikes them, as 
Othello, Macduff, Cleopatra, and others. Such clever methods 
of representing the movement of feelings, by giving good actors 
an opportunity to show their strength, have often been mis- 
taken and are still mistaken by many critics for the repre- 
sentation of character. But however strongly the movement 
of feeling may be represented in one scene, one scene cannot 
give the character of a person, when that person after a truthful 
exclamation or gesture begins at great length, not in his own 
language, but according to the caprice of the author, to utter 
speeches that are totally useless and do not correspond to his 
character. — [On Shakespeare, ch. 4.] 

Tolstoy seems further to admit that many of the 
speeches and aphorisms in Shakespeare, though not deep 
or original, and though inappropriate to the persons 
uttering them, are in themselves impressive. 

In all this Tolstoy is condemning Shakespeare be- 
cause he is not a realist and psychologist of Tolstoy's 
own school, because he is a romantic writer who used 
technical methods which were popular in his own time, 
and which, if general experience be of any weight, have 
not lost their appeal today. Tolstoy is in accord with 
some modern critics who, whether we agree with them 
or not, cannot be stigmatized as ignorant and superficial ; 


who, in fact, condemn with perfect justice the effort to 
discover in Shakespeare all the technical qualities that 
we prize in dramatists of our own time.* Shakespeare 
often neglected consistency of character, not to speak 
of realistic truth of diction, in his search for poetic 
ornament or for immediate dramatic effect. Goethe, 
whom Tolstoy incorrectly terms the founder of Shake- 
speare's present fame, makes a remark that is exactly 
in Tolstoy's own tone: "He regarded his plays as a 
lively and changing scene which should pass rapidly 
before eye and ear, and his only interest was to be 
effective and significant for the moment."! 

Finally, Tolstoy denies to Shakespeare sincerity, a 
vivid sympathy by the author with that which he repre- 
sents. "In all his works one sees calculated artificiality; 
it is evident that he is not 'in earnest,' that he is playing 
with words" (ch. 6). Here, despite the conceits of 
Love's Labor's Lost and Romeo and Juliet, one must 
definitely part company with Tolstoy. This is a personal 
opinion, founded partly on minor defects in Shake- 
speare's style, but more on Tolstoy's own repugnance 
for his lack of the religious point of view. 

Tolstoy further repeats the old denunciations of 

* One may cite, for example, Professor E. E. Stoll, particularly his 
Othello, an Historical and Comparative Study (Minneapolis, Bulletin of 
the University of Minnesota, 1915). From a thorough study of Eliza- 
bethan dramatic art he draws conclusions as to Shakespeare's technical 
methods, though not as to his general worth as a poet and an artist, 
strikingly similar to those of Tolstoy. Mr. Shaw's attacks on Shake- 
speare also offer parallels to Tolstoy. 

f Conversations with Eckermann, quoted by Stoll, Othello, p. 57. 


Shakespeare for his anachronisms, for his coarseness 
and exaggeration, and for the conventionality of his bor- 
rowed plots. He denies that these demerits of Shake- 
speare were due merely to the age in which he lived: 

However far Homer may be from us, we transfer ourselves 
without the slightest effort into the life that he describes. And 
we transfer ourselves, mainly, because, however strange to us 
are the events that Homer describes, he believes in what 
he is saying, and speaks seriously about what he is saying, 
and therefore never exaggerates, and the feeling of measure 
never deserts him. Hence it comes that, not to speak of the 
marvelously clear, living, and beautiful characters of Achilles, 
Hector, Priam, and Odysseus, and the forever touching scenes 
of the farewell of Hector, the embassy of Priam, the return of 
Odysseus and others, the whole Iliad, and still more the 
Odyssey, are as naturally near to us as though we ourselves 
had lived and were living amid gods and heroes. It is not so 
with Shakespeare. From his very first words one sees exag- 
geration: exaggeration of events, exaggeration of feelings, and 
exaggeration of expressions. One sees at once that he does not 
believe in what he is saying, that he does not care for it, that 
he is thinking up the events that he is describing, and is 
indifferent to his own persons; that he has devised them 
only for the stage, and therefore makes them act and speak 
only what may impress his public; and therefore we do not 
believe either in the events, or in the acts or in the miseries of 
his characters. Nothing shows so clearly the complete ab- 
sence of esthetic feeling in Shakespeare as the comparison 
of him with Homer. The works that we call the works of 
Homer are artistic, poetic, original works that were lived 
through by the author or authors. 


But the works of Shakespeare, being borrowed compositions, 
thought up for an occasion, glued together externally and 
artificially, out of little pieces, like a mosaic, have nothing in 
common with art and poetry. — [On Skakespeare, ch. 5.] 

Here speaks the apostle of simplicity as well as the 
master of modern realism. On both sides of his genius, 
the artistic and the religious, Tolstoy was tempera- 
mentally alien to Shakespeare. His essay is valuable 
as a stimulus to thought, but not as a guide to a just 
estimate of Shakespeare. 



]ARLY in the morning of November 10, 1910, 
Tolstoy left his home forever, accompanied 
by his friend and physician Dr. Makovitsky. 
His departure was caused by his gnawing 
dissatisfaction with the conflict between his faith and 
surroundings, and in particular by the clash of his 
own ideals with those of his wife. For his future life he 
apparently had no definite plan; he wished merely to 
get away. To his wife he wrote a last message: 

My departure will grieve you. I am sorry for this, but pray 
understand and believe that I could not act otherwise. My 
position in the house is becoming unbearable. I can no longer 
live amid those conditions of luxury in which I have been liv- 
ing; and I am doing what old men of my age usually do. They 
retire from the life of the world in order to live in solitude 
and quiet the last days of their lives. Please understand this 
and do not follow me if you learn where I am. Your coming 
will not change my resolution. I thank you for your honorable 
life of forty-eight years with me, and I beg you to forgive me 
for all the wrong that I may have done you, just as I with 
my whole soul pardon you for whatever wrong you may have 



done me. I counsel you to be reconciled to the new position 
in which my departure places you, and not to have any unkind 
feelings for me. — [Ksyunin: The Departure of Tolstoy, pp. 
22, 23.] 

Tolstoy's first night away from home was spent at 
the Optin Monastery, a place with which he was familiar 
from his previous visits there (see pages 285, 286); on 
the next day he visited his sister in the convent at 
Shamordino, where he was joined on November 12 by his 
daughter Alexandra, to whom he had confided his in- 
tention of flight. The next day he left for a further 
journey, with his daughter and Dr. Makovitsky, but he 
was taken ill on the train, and was forced to stop at 
Astapovo, a little wayside station, where the kindly 
station-master lodged him in his own quarters. Here 
he was soon joined by Chertkov and other friends and 
by various members of his family. His wife came at 
once to Astapovo, but respected his desire not to see 
her; she did not enter his room until after his death. 
"If she comes here," Tolstoy told Chertkov with tears, 
"I shall be unable to refuse her; but if I see her, it will 
be ruinous for me" — evidently meaning that he should 
not have the strength to resist her plea that he return 
to the old home surroundings. The sick man's strength 
rapidly failed. His preoccupation with religious ques- 
tions continued to the last; to his daughter Alexandra he 
dictated, for his diary, some last Thoughts on God. 
A few days before he died he charged his daughter Ta- 
tyana to think of all humanity rather than of her father 


alone. "I have but one bit of counsel for you," he said, 
" to remember that in this world there are many men be- 
sides Leo Tolstoy; but you look at none but Leo."* He 
died early on the morning of November 20. His body 
was taken home, and was buried, according to his 
wishes, without religious ceremonies or addresses, on the 
spot in his estate where he had requested that it should 
rest. The heartfelt emotion of the throng assembled 
by the grave and their singing of "Eternal Memory" 
were the best tributes that could have been rendered 
to the departed prophet. 

Tolstoy has been given a place in this series of volumes 
beside Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, 
Moliere, and Goethe, as a Master Spirit of Literature. 
Whether his name will remain permanently associated 
with that great company it is impossible to be sure. But 
of two things at least one may feel perfectly certain : that 
he is the master spirit among all writers whom Russia 
has yet produced, and that he is the master spirit among 
all the writers of the world since the time of Goethe. 

In Russia Tolstoy's position is secure, despite voices 
that nowadays tend to depreciate him in favor of the 
morbid Dostoyevsky. Such eccentric opinions seem 
mere whining protests against the almost crushing 
fame of Tolstoy. Moreover, Tolstoy is not only the 
greatest writer of Russia, but the writer most typical of 
Russian society as it had shaped itself in the three 
* Chertkov: The Last Days of L. N. Tolstoy, pp. 12-14, 


hundred years between the establishment of serfdom at 
the end of the sixteenth century and the beginnings of 
the industrial and political revolution in our own time. 
Tolstoy is, to borrow a phrase that Dostoyevsky applied 
with some tinge of scorn to him and to Turgenev,* 
a writer of "landed-proprietor's literature" — though his 
scope is far wider than the term at first suggests. He 
draws the life of Russian aristocrats in their fields, in 
their country manors, in their city homes, in the army; 
he draws with equal insight the life of the peasants 
on whom they depended for their support. He knew 
the hidden souls of both aristocrat and peasant as well 
as their outer lives. He is the embodiment of the 
kindliness and the loyalty, the emotional honesty of 
the Russian nature, and at the same time of its passionate 
individuality, its revolutionary boldness. With the 
pride of the aristocrat he united the moral fervor of the 
peasant sectarian. Through his work Russia of the 
nineteenth century received lasting artistic expression of 
its external forms of life and of its spiritual yearnings. 

And among other great writers of our time what man 
can compare with Tolstoy in universal fame? If a 
Frenchman exalts Victor Hugo or a Pole Sienkiewicz, 
the world feels that they are prompted by patriotic 
affection rather than by sober reason. Yet we are per- 
haps so close to Tolstoy, so much under the immediate 
appeal of his artistic genius, his moral fervor, and his 
brotherly personality, that we cannot judge with perfect 
* Letter to Strakhov, May 18 [30], 1871, 


impartiality whether three hundred years hence he will 
occupy a place like that of Shakespeare or Cervantes in 
our own day. 

Certainly if realistic fiction retains its hold upon men's 
minds Tolstoy's glory will not soon fade away. For his 
fiction has already triumphed over place, if not over 
time, as has none other before it. Writing in a language 
scarcely known outside his own country, he has created 
men and women who have become brothers and sisters 
to all humanity. Reading War and Peace and Anna 
Karenin, we forget the bounds of nationality in our 
sympathetic understanding of the human beings whose 
lives we share. These novels, critics tell us, are lacking 
in form; "he wanted art," as men said of Shakespeare. 
But the genius of the author triumphed over his neglect 
of formal rules, which are at best but general statements 
of literary method, useful in many cases but not binding 
on a man who can gain his effects without them. In 
Tolstoy the interpretation of our daily life reached new 
heights. In his works men and women are lovely with- 
out ceasing to be commonplace, and they are common- 
place without ceasing to be lovely. They are lovely be- 
cause their creator, to use his own beautiful phrase, 
"saw through with love" (page 159). His art had none 
of the esthetic aloofness that parts an artist from his kind; 
it was an art that made the proud aristocrat a brother to 
the whole world. 

Nor does mere artistic sympathy exhaust Tolstoy's 
power as a student of character. He has also the saeva 


indignatio, the burning indignation of a Swift. The 
Kreutzer Sonata, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and The 
Power of Darkness will ever retain a place in the litera- 
ture of rebuke and scorn. 

When we turn from Tolstoy the master of realistic 
fiction to Tolstoy the moralist and the preacher, we 
are on ground where prophecy may be more hazardous. 
His writings on ethical and social questions will live, we 
may be sure, if they do live, not as a rounded pres- 
entation of ultimate truth, but as the revelation of 
a powerful personality and of a unified and noble view of 
human conduct. Great religious classics do not derive 
their value solely from the ethical truth that they con- 
tain, but from the fervor with which they present cer- 
tain aspects of human conduct, and from the artistic, 
poetic form in which they may be clothed. Bunyan's 
Grace Abounding has become a classic of religious auto- 
biography, read by men who have no sympathy what- 
ever with the theory of salvation on which it is based. 
So Tolstoy's Confession, that cry of a soul in agony, 
that voice of a searcher after God, with its concentrated, 
ardent expression of human experience, may outlast 
War and Peace in the memory of mankind. Plato's 
Republic embodies a philosophy in which few men now 
believe, but it has more readers and is perhaps a more 
potent influence than Aristotle's Ethics, the doctrine of 
which is never likely to be superseded. The Imitation 
of Christ and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius appeal 
to men who are not likely ever to become monks or 


Stoics. The Christian Gospels have never lost their 
inspiration for generations of men who, consciously or 
unconsciously, reject them as a guide of life. So My 
Religion and What Shall We Do Then? may continue 
to have readers and admirers, may continue to stimulate 
thought in men for whom Tolstoy's gospel of Christian 
anarchy, founded on non-resistance to evil by violence, 
is an absurdity. 

An objector may say that Tolstoy's religious works 
would be far less read were it not for his fame as a 
novelist. In this charge, owing to the frailty of human 
nature, which loves to be amused rather than instructed 
or made to think, there is some truth, but truth that is 
of small importance. It is more important to remember 
that Tolstoy's artistic genius filled with life his religious 
works, lending force to doctrine that otherwise expressed 
might seem either "staled by frequence, shrunk by 
usage," or else so extravagant as to be merely curious. 
And on the other hand his novels owe their greatness 
in no small degree to the moral insight and the moral 
fervor of their author. Tolstoy's work, changing in its 
form and complex in its subject matter, is animated by 
one rich and varied personality. 

In a famous passage at the close of his essay on Shake- 
speare Emerson laments the failure of the great poet of 
England to draw from his marvelous insight into the 
world of men and from his appreciation of its beauty, 
some measure of wisdom for the guidance of his own 
conduct: "It must even go into the world's history 


that the best poet led an obscure and profane life, using 
his genius for the public amusement." Even so, we 
may add, the great poet of Germany, though he shaped 
his conduct by a conscious philosophy, led a life that 
was anything but inspiring from a moral point of view; 
Goethe's marvelous self-cultivation, concentrated on the 
development of his own powers and on his own enjoy- 
ment, was selfish and in a sense narrow. Yet in the 
next breath Emerson denounces the opposite failure 
of "priest and prophet, Israelite, German, and Swede," 
who "beheld the same objects" and "also saw through 
them that which was contained. And to what pur- 
pose? The beauty straightway vanished; they read 
commandments, all-excluding mountainous duty; an 
obligation, a sadness, as of piled mountains, fell on 
them, and life became ghastly, joyless, a pilgrim's 
progress, . . . and the heart of the seer and the heart 
of the listener sank in them." "It must be conceded 
that these are half-views of half-men," Emerson con- 
cludes — "the world still wants its poet-priest, a reconciler, 
who shall not trifle with Shakespeare the player, nor shall 
grope in graves with Swedenborg the mourner; but 
who shall see, speak, and act, with equal inspiration. 
For knowledge will brighten the sunshine; right is more 
beautiful than private affection; and love is compatible 
with universal wisdom." 

Perhaps Tolstoy has done more than any other 
writer to unite these two views of life, the esthetic and 
the moralistic, although even he was far from blending 


them in perfect harmony. The "great writer of the 
Russian land" was an interpreter of conduct as well as 
a portray er of it; he saw the comedy and the tragedy of 
human life with a marvelous impartiality approaching 
that of Shakespeare, but he drew them as an earnest 
actor in them, not as a spectator or a showman. Unlike 
both Shakespeare and Goethe, he became a servant of his 
fellow men, rilled with a spirit of Christian love. To the 
spirit of Shakespeare he added that of Milton and 
of Bunyan, endeavoring to "justify the ways of God to 
man." He showed all men Russia as it was in his own 
time, he made clear to all men the spiritual realities 
that lay hidden behind the passing show mirrored in his 
writings, and he strove to shape his own life in accord 
with those realities. 

And finally, the personality of Tolstoy may remain 
significant, independently of the work that he achieved. 
The writings of some great authors are finer than the 
lives of the men who produced them: so it is with 
Shakespeare, with Moliere, with Goethe, with Rous- 
seau. On the other hand one feels that Dante was a 
personality even more powerful than his writings, 
though unluckily we know almost nothing of his daily 
life. But of Tolstoy, as of Milton, we know everything; 
and with him, as with Milton, the human personality 
is of even more inspiration than the literary genius. 
Tolstoy was the great type of the prophet in an age 
that was materialistic and occupied with worldly 
prosperity. His shortcomings and failures, one must 


admit, were pathetic; his compromises with his doc- 
trine, a doctrine that was itself the antithesis of com- 
promise, at times verged on the ludicrous. Yet, when 
all this is granted, he still differs from most modern 
religious teachers in being more eager to adapt his life 
to his message than are they; his imperfect strivings 
are nobler than their acquiescence in social conventions. 
Tolstoy was of the stuff of which heroes are made. Had 
he not lived in an age when the burning of heretics 
(though unfortunately not of all our fellow men) has 
passed out of fashion, he would have died at the stake. 
Under real persecution he would have been the most 
constant of martyrs. To the day of his death he was 
ever searching for new truth. He realized his own ideal 
of the man seeking and striving for righteousness. 

And the ideal of righteousness that Tolstoy sought and 
found was that of a little child. When he himself was 
over seventy he wrote thus of his brother Nikolay, who 
was six years older than himself: 

He was a marvelous boy and later a marvelous man. . . . 
He it was who, when I was five, Mitenka six, and Serezha 
seven years old, announced to us that he had a secret through 
which, when it should be disclosed, all men should be made 
happy, there should be no disease and no disagreements; no 
one should be angry with any one, and all people should love 
one another, all should become ant (muraveynyye) brothers — 
probably these were the Moravian Brethren, of whom he had 
heard or read, but in our language they were the ant brothers. 
And I remember that the term ant brothers was specially 


pleasing to me, reminding me of ants in a hill. We even devised 
a game of ant brothers, winch consisted in seating ourselves 
under chairs, which we fenced about with boxes and hung with 
handkerchiefs, and in sitting there in the dark, snuggling close 
to one another. I remember that I then experienced a peculiar 
feeling of love and tenderness and was very fond of this game. 

The ant brothers were revealed to us, but the main secret, 
how to cause all men to be free from any misfortune, never to 
quarrel or be angry, and to be continually happy — this secret, 
as he told us, he had written on a green stick; and he had 
buried this stick by the road, on the edge of a certain ravine 
on our estate, at the spot where, since my body must be 
buried somewhere, I have asked to be interred in memory of 
Nikolenka. . . . 

The ideal of ant brothers, cleaving lovingly to one another, 
only not under two armchairs hung with handkerchiefs, but of 
all men of the world under the whole vault of heaven, has re- 
mained the same for me. And as I then believed that there 
existed a green stick on which was written what should destroy 
all evil in men and give them a great blessing, so I believe 
even now that this truth exists and that it will be disclosed 
to men and will give them what it promises. — [Biryukov: I, 
84-87, quoting from Tolstoy's manuscript reminiscences of his 

Tolstoy lies at rest in the spot where he had believed 
the green stick was buried that should cause all men to 
cease from quarreling and from anger, and should give 
them continued happiness. 


The first three of the following lists include such English works as 
seem most useful for students of Tolstoy. A few books in French are 
added. The fourth list is of various books in Russian that have been 
used in the preparation of the present volume. 

1. Translations 

Wiener. — The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy. Translated from the 
original Russian and edited by Leo Wiener. 24 vols. Boston, 
Estes, 1904-5. [This set includes practically all of Tolstoy's 
writings through the year 1902. Volumes may be obtained 
separately. It is the most complete translation in English, and 
is very accurate, but its literary style is sometimes not all that 
could be desired. It is invaluable for any careful study of Tolstoy. 
The translator's indexes, chronological table, bibliography, and 
account of the life and writings of Tolstoy add greatly to its use- 

Garnett. — Anna Karenin, translated from the Russian by Constance 
Garnett. London, Heinemann, 1911. — War and Peace. Ibid., 
1911. [For general use these are the most satisfactory translations 
of Tolstoy's two chief novels.] — The Death of Ivdn Ilyich and 
Other Stories. Ibid., 1915. — The Kingdom of God Is Within You. 
Ibid., 1894. 

Maude, Aylmer. — Hadji Murad, translated by Aylmer Maude. 
New York, Dodd, 1912.— What is Art? New York, Crowell, 1899. 

Maude, Louise. — Resurrection, translated by Mrs. Louise Maude. 
New York, Dodd, 1900. 

Maude, Louise and Aylmer. — The Cossacks and Other Tales of the 
Caucasus, translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude. Oxford 
University Press, 1917. — Plays: The Power of Darkness, The 


First Distiller, Fruits of Culture. New York, Funk, 1904. — Sevas- 
topol and Other Military Tales. Ibid., 1903. 

Hapgood. — Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, translated from the Russian 
by Isabel F. Hapgood. New York, Crowell, 1911. 

Chertkov [Tchertkoff]. — Tolstoy on Shakespeare, translated by V. 
Tchertkoff and I. F. M. New York, Funk, 1906. 

Wright (editor). — Father Sergius and Other Stories, edited by Dr. 
Hagberg Wright. New York, Dodd, 1912. — The Forged Coupon 
and Other Stories. Ibid., 1912. — The Light that Shines in Darkness. 
Ibid., 1912.— The Man Who Was Dead; The Cause of It All. 
Ibid., 1912. 

My Confession; My Religion; The Gospel in Brief. New York, 

Crowell, 1911. 

Hogarth and Sirnis. — The Diaries of Leo Tolstoy, translated from the 
Russian by C. J. Hogarth and A. Sirnis. [Vol. I.] Youth, 18^7 to 
1852. New York, Dutton, 1917. [This was received when the 
present work was already in type — too late to be of ervice. The 
writer has been unable to consult the Russian text of this work.] 

Strunsky. — The Journal of Leo Tolstoi {first volume — 1895-1899), 
translated from the Russian by Rose Strunsky. New York, 
Knopf, 1917. [The writer has been unable to consult the Rus- 
sian text of this work.] 

Bienstock. — LSon Tolstoi: Correspondance inidite, reunie, annotee et 
traduite par J. W. Bienstock. Paris, Charpentier, 1907. 

Cheap editions of What I Believe ("My Religion 1 "), What Shall We Do?, 
On Life, The Kingdom of God Is Within You, and others of Tolstoy's 
religious writings have been issued by the Free Age Press, London. 

2. Biography 

Pavel Biryuk6v [Paul Birukoff]: Lev Nikoldyevich Tolstoy, a 
Biography. [In Russian], 2 vols. Moscow, 1906-8; ed. 2, 1911-13. 
[This is the authority on Tolstoy's life up to 1884; it has not been 
completed. Though invaluable as a collection of materials, it 
is poorly digested and ill written. References in this volume are 
to the first Russian edition; reference is made to Biryukoy even 
when his sources were accessible to the writer and used by him. — 


The first volume has appeared in an English translation: Leo 
Tolstoy, his Life and Work; New York, Scribner, 1906. Both vol- 
umes are accessible in French: Leon Tolstoi; vie et ceuvre, me- 
moir es; Paris, Mercure de France, 1906-9.] 

The Life of Tolstoy, translated from the Russian. New York, 

Cassell, 1911. [Not to be confused with the preceding. A short 
sketch of Tolstoy's life, mainly from the point of view of his 
religious teaching. The writer has been unable to consult the 
Russian text of this work.] 

Aylmer Maude: The Life of Tolstoy. 2 vols. New York, Dodd, 1910. 
[This is the best English work on Tolstoy's life. The first volume 
is mainly a rehandling of Biryukov's materials; the second is to 
a considerable degree based on personal reminiscences of Tolstoy. 
Cited in foot-notes as Maude.] 

Nathan Haskell Dole: The Life of Count Lyof N. Tolstoi. New 
York, Crowell, 1911. [This gives the facts as to Tolstoy's life in 
shorter compass than the work of Maude.] 

Count Ilya. Tolstoy: Reminiscences of Tolstoy, by his son, Count 
Ilyd Tolstoy; translated by George Calderon. New York, Cen- 
tury, 1914. [The writer has been unable to consult the Russian 
text of this work.] 

S. A. Behrs: Reminiscences of Count L. N. Tolstoy. [In Russian], 
Smolensk, 1893. [Behrs was the brother of the Countess Tolstoy. 
There is an English translation by Charles Edward Turner, Recol- 
lections of Count Leo Tolstoy: London, Heinemann, 1893.] 

P. Sergeyenko [Sergyeenko] : Bow Count L. N. Tolstoy Lives and 
Works. [In Russian.] Moscow, 1898. [Accessible in an English 
translation by Isabel F. Hapgood: New York, Crowell, 1899.] 

Accounts of Tolstoy's work during the famine of 1891-93 are given 
in In the Land of Tolstoi, by Jonas Stadling and Will Reason (London, 
Clarke, 1897), and in In the Track of the Russian Famine, by E. A. 
Brayley Hodgetts (London, Unwin, 1892). 

Accounts of the Dukhobors and of Tolstoy's connection with them 
are given in A Peculiar People, the Doukhobors, by Aylmer Maude 
(New York, Funk, 1904), and The Doukhobors, by Joseph Elkinton 
(Philadelphia, Ferris, 1903). 


3. Criticism 

Romain Rolland: Vie de Tolstoi. Paris, Hachette, 1911. [A won- 
derfully sympathetic, penetrating, and many-sided appreciation 
of Tolstoy as artist and thinker. It is accessible in an English 
translation by Bernard Miall: New York, Dutton, 1911.] 

William Dean Howells: My Literary Passions. New York, Harper, 
1895. [The last chapter is a fine tribute to Tolstoy.] 

D. S. Merezhkovsky [Merejkowski] : L. Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky; 

Life, Work, and Religion. [In Russian.] St. Petersburg, 1912. 
(Vols, vii-ix of Merezhkovsky's Works.) [The first two parts 
of this work are translated under the title Tolstoi as Man and 
Artist, with an Essay on Dostaievski: New York, Putnam, 1902. 
The work, though written from an eccentric point of view, contains 
brilliant criticism.] 

Aylmer Maude: Tolstoy and his Problems. Ed. 2. London, Grant 
Richards, 1902. 

Ossip-Lourie: La Philosophie de Tolstoi. Paris, Alcan, 1899. 

General accounts of Tolstoy's work may of course be found in all 
books on modern Russian literature. Attention may be called to the 

E. M. de Vogue: Le roman rasse. Paris, Plon, 1886. [English trans- 

lation by Colonel H. A. Sawyer: The Russian Novel; London, 
Chapman, 1913.] 

Ernest Dupuy: Les grands maitres de la litter ature russe au dix- 
neuvieme siecle. Paris, Legene, 1885. [English translation by 
Nathan Haskell Dole: The Great Masters of Russian Literature in 
the Nineteenth Century; New York, Crowell, 1886.] 

A. Bruckner: A Literary History of Russia, translated [from the 
German] by H. Havelock. New York, Scribner, 1908. 

P. Kropotkin: Russian Literature. New York, McClure, 1905. 

William Lyon Phelps: Essays on Russian Novelists. New York, 
Macmillan, 1911. 

4. Russian Sources 

The following titles are translated from the Russian. 
Letters of Count L. N. Tolstoy to his Wife, 1862-1910. Edited by A. E. 
Gruzinsky. Moscow, 1913. 


Correspondence of L. N. Tolstoy ivith the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, 1857- 
1903. Published by the Society of the Tolstoy Museum. St. 
Petersburg, 1911. 

Tolstoy Almanack. Letters of L. N. Tolstoy, 1848-1910. Collected and 
edited by P. A. Sergeyenko. 2 vols. Moscow, 1910-11. 

A New Collection of Letters of L. N. Tolstoy. Collected by P. A. Ser- 
geyenko, edited by A. E. Gruzinsky. Moscow, 1912. 

Correspondence of L. N. Tolstoy with N. N. StraJchov. Published in The 
Contemporary World, January to December, 1913. 

E. Bogoslovsky: Turgenev on Lev Tolstoy. Tiflis, 1894. 

V. F. Bulgakov: With L. N. Tolstoy during the Last Year of his Life. 
Moscow, 1911. 

V. Chertk6v: On the Last Days of L. N. Tolstoy. Moscow, 1911. 

M. Dragomirov: Sketches. Kiev, 1898. [Contains a critique on 
Count Tolstoy's "War and Peace" from a Military Point of View.] 

N. Kareyev: The Historical Philosophy of Count L. N. Tolstoy in 
"War and Peace." St. Petersburg, 1888. [Reprinted from The 
Messenger of Europe, July, 1887.] 

A. Ksyunin: The Departure of Tolstoy. St. Petersburg, 1911. 

Sergeyenko (compiler): International Tolstoy Almanack: On Tolstoy. 
Moscow, 1909. [A collection of articles by various writers.] 

I. Teneromo [Feinermann] : Life and Discourses of L. N. Tolstoy. 
St. Petersburg, n. d. 

Living Words of L. N. Tolstoy. Moscow, 1912. 


Note:— Specific references to Tolstoy's life, personality, literary char- 
acteristics, and teachings are grouped under the heading Tolstoy, Count 
Leo {Lev Nikoldyevich); but references to his individual writings will be 
found under their titles {Anna Karenin, War and Peace, etc.). References 
to characters in Tolstoy's novels are gouped under that heading. 

The following abbreviations are used: 

An. Kar. — Anna Karenin. 

C. B. Y. — Childlwod, Boyhood, and Youth. 

W. and P. — War and Peace. 


About, 157. 

Achilles, 184, 289, 353. 

Adam Bede, 340, 341. 

adultery, 155, 199, 201, 301, 310, 

312, 317. 
iEneas, 185. 
.Esop, 116. 

/Esthetics (Veron), 327. 
Afanasyev, 115. 
Agesilaus, 31. 
agnosticism, 126. 
agnostics, 227. 
Aksakov, 25. 
Albert, 65. 
Alekseyev, Vasily Ivanovich, 222, 

Alexander the Great, 31. 
Alexander I, 161, 176, 177. 
Alexander II, 38, 62, 84, 257. 
Alexander III, 257, 295. 
Ambrose, Father, 286. 

America, 14, 54, 57, 58, 106, 189, 

anarchism, see Tolstoy, philosophy: 

Anatomy of Melancholy, 158. 
And the Light Shineth in Darkness, 

240, 266. 
Andreyev, 48. 

Anna Karenin, 7, 8, 15, 18, 62, 85, 
115, 128, 132, 133, 135, 149, 
150, 151, 152, 158, 176, 189- 
204, 217, 220, 246, 247, 262, 
304, 307, 321, 323, 359. 
a great love story, 195. 
a novel of the conscience, 196. 
anecdote of beginning, 149-150. 
basis of plot, 150. 
comparison to living organism, 

conduct the theme, 196. 
dramatization of, 308. 
motto discussed, 199-201. 
mowing scene, 196. 




plot construction, 190-191. 
Puritan point of view, 189, 197- 

sense of impending tragedy in, 191. 
Tolstoy's lack of enthusiasm for, 

unity and concentration of, 189- 

see also, under characters in Tol- 
stoy's novels: Karenin, Kitty, 

Levin, Vronsky. 
"ant brothers," 364-365. 
Antichrist, Tolstoy denounced as, 

Anton Goremyka, 16. 
Antony, Mark, 185. 
Anuchin, 300. 
Arbuzov, 286. 
aristocratic traditions of Tolstoy 

family, 137. 
Aristotle, 92, 254, 360. 
Arnold, Matthew, 347. 
art, see What is Art?, Preface to the 

Works of Guy de Maupassant, 

and On Shakespeare and the 

Drama; also Tolstoy, views 

on esthetics. 
Artyukhov, Madam, 80. 
asceticism, see Tolstoy, philosophy: 

assassination of Alexander III, 257. 
Astapovo, 356. 
Auerbach, 73. 
Augustine, 92. 
"aunt" Tatyana, see Ergolsky, 

Aurelius, Marcus, 231, 360. 
Austerlitz, 175. 
authority, traditional, 126. 
autocracy, 54, 55, 58, 126, 294. 


Babylon, 200. 

ball, Natasha's first (W. and P.), 

Baryatinsky, Prince, 11. 
Bashkir nomads, 141. 

Baumgarten, 330. 

bear-hunt, 70-71, 116. 

Beethoven, 119, 121, 154, 336, 340, 
Kreutzer Sonata, 312. 

Begichevka, 282. 

Behrs, Liza, 85. 

Behrs, Sofya, 85. 
see also Tolstoy, Countess Sofya 

Behrs, Stepan, 131, 135, 141, 148, 
see also Reminiscences (Behrs). 

Behrs, Tatyana (Tanya), 161-162. 

Belbek, 38. 

Bellows, John, 321-322. 

Berlin, 72. 

Bethink Yourselves, 299. 

Bibikov, 137, 150. 

Bible, 92, 116. 

Bibliotheque de mon oncle, 36. 

Biryukov, Pavel, 61> 88, 231, 287. 
Life of Tolstoy (Russian), 10, 11, 
13, 14, 17, 20, 21, 22, 38, 46, 
47, 49, 59, 61, 62, 64, 68, 69, 
73, 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 84, 85, 
86, 136, 139, 140, 141, 143, 
144, 149, 151, 154, 155, 156, 
157, 162, 195, 211, 240, 258, 
259, 267, 281, 302, 303, 304, 
Life of Tolstoy (New York, 1911), 

Bismarck, 3. 

Black Beauty, 131. 

Bohemian Brethren, 242. 

Bondarev, 251. 

book-keeping methods of Tolstoy, 

Borodino, 169, 179, 186. 

Borrow, 172. 

boyars, 148, 149. 

Brahms, 338. 

Brussels, 72, 258. 

Brutus, 185. 

Bucharest, 38. 

Buddha, 211, 213, 231. 

Buddhism, 215, 254, 315, 317. 



Buddhists, 316. 
Bulgaria, 151. 
Bulka (bulldog), 116. 
bull kills herdsman, 144. 
Bulletin of the Patients at Yasnaya 
Polyana Lunatic Asylum, 281. 
Bunyan, 349, 360, 363. 
Burns, 342. 
Byron, 50. 


Caesar, Julius, 81, 96. 
Canada, 290, 291. 
capital punishment, 218. 
categorical imperative, 253. 
Catherine II, Empress, 10, 89, 225. 
Catholicism, 55. 
Catholics, see Roman Catholics. 
Caucasus, 11, 16, 23, 38, 48, 49, 52, 

116, 236, 324, 325. 
Caxton, 248. 
celibacy, 311, 313, 315. 
censorship, 40, 57, 147, 226, 287, 

294, 302. 
Cervantes, 343, 357, 359. 
Channing, 231. 


Agafya Mikhaylovna (An. Kar.), 

Akim (Power of Darkness), 310. 
Andrey, Prince (W. and P.), see 

Anna Karenin, see Karenin. 
Antonov, Sub.-Lieut. (Sevastopol), 

Beletsky (Cossacks), 49. 
Betsey, Princess (An. Kar.), 198, 

199, 201. 
Bezukhov, Count Pierre (W. and 

P.), 161, 168, 169, 171, 174, 

176, 184, 187, 188, 189, 196, 

205, 248. 
Bolkonsky, Prince Andrey (W. and 

P.), 161, 166, 167, 168, 169, 

173, 175, 184, 186, 187, 189, 

196, 205. 
Bolkonsky, Princess Marya (W. 

and P.), 162, 173, 174. 

Denisov (W. and P.), 164, 165. 
Dolly (An. Kar.), 196, 198. 
Eroshka, Uncle (Cossacks), 52. 
Galtsin, Prince (Sevastopol), 43, 44. 
Grisha (C. B. Y.), 28, 29, 36. 240. 
Ilyich, Ivan (Death of Ivan Ilyich), 

307, 308. 
Irtenyev, Mikolay (Nikolenka) 

(C. B. Y.), 25, 29, 30, 32, 35, 

Kalugin (Sevastopol), 39, 45. 
Karatayev, Platon (W. arid P.), 

184, 187, 188, 220. 
Karenin, Anna, 190-203. 

husband's ears, 192. 
last glimpse of, 202. 
T.'s attitude towards, 198. 
Karenin (Anna's husband), 191, 

192, 195, 198, 199, 200, 220. 
Katyusha (Resurrection), 294, 319- 

Kitty (An. Kar.), 62, 128, 190, 191, 

196, 198, 220. 
Kozeltsov, The brothers (Sevas- 
topol), 44. 
Koznyshev (An. Kar.), 198. 
Krugosvetlov, Professor (Fruits of 

Enlightenment), 319. 
Kuragin, Anatole (W. and P.), 

168, 186, 220. 
Kuragin. Princess Elena (W. arid 

P.), 174. 
Levin, (An. Kar.), 8, 86, 135, 176, 

185, 190, 191, 196, 198, 201, 
202, 203, 205, 217, 220, 248, 

Levin, Nikolay (An. Kar.), 15, 

Lukashk (Cossacks), 49, 52. 
Marya (Father Sergy), 317. 
Marya, Princess (W. and P.), see 

Mary ana (Cossacks), 49, 50, 52. 
Mauer, Karl (C. B. Y.), 25, 32. 
Mikhaylov (Sevastopol), 45. 
Mimi (C. B. Y.), 25. 
Natalya Savishna (C. B. Y.), 25 

34, 35, 36. 



Natasha {W. and P.), see Rostov. 
Nekhlyudov, Dmitry {C. B. Y.), 

Nekhlyudov, Prince Dmitry {Res- 
urrection), 319-320. 
Nikita {Power of Darkness), 310- 

Nikolay (Nikolenka) (C. B. Y.), 

see Irtenyev. 
Oblonsky, Stepan (Stiva) Arkady- 

evitch {An. Kar.), 196, 197, 

198, 201, 350. 
Olenin {Cossacks), 49, 50, 51, 52, 

205, 248. 
Pest {Sevastopol), 45. 
Petrushov, Ensign {Sevastopol), 

Pierre {W. and P.), see Bezukhov. 
Pozdnyshev {Kreutzer Sonata), 

Praskukhin {Sevastopol), 45. 
Rostov, Natasha {W. and P.), 

143, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 

167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 

173,^ 186, 187, 188, 306. 
her first call, 166-167. 
her first proposal, 163-165. 
married life, 169-170. 
old age, 171-172. 
Rostov, Nikolay {W. and P.), 

8, 161, 172, 173, 175, 176, 

186, 347. 
Rostov, Count (father of 

Natasha), 5, 161. 
St. Jerome {C. B. Y.), 25. 
Saryntsov {Light Shineth in Dark- 
ness), 240. 
Sergy, Father, 317. 
Shamil {Hadji Murad), 324. 
Sonya {W. and P.), 139, 162, 166, 

Stepan Arkadyevich {An. Kar.), 

see Oblonsky. 
Sviyazhsky {An. Kar.), 198. 
Tanya {Fruits of Enlightenment), 

Tushin, Captain {W. and P.), 175. 
Varenka {An. Kar.), 193, 

Vronsky {An. Kar.), 62, 190, 191, 
192, 193, 194, 195, 198, 199, 
200, 220. 
Tolstoy's account of his at- 
tempt at suicide, 194-195. 
Vronsky, Countess {An. Kar.), 

Zvezdintsev {Fruits of Enlight- 
enment), 319. 

Chartreuse de Parme, 47. 

chastity, 311, 313, 315. 

Chaucer, 343. 

Chaykovsky, 153. 

Chelcicky, 330. 

Chernigov, princess of, 5. 
Governor of, 289. 

Chernyshevsky, 59. 

Chertkov, Vladimir, 48, 123, 226, 
287, 316, 356, 357. 

Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth, 7, 
18, 23, 24-37, 40, 44, 47, 61, 
66, 174, 240, 300, 306, 319. 
T.'s own criticism of, 36. 

"children's shelters," 283. 

Chimes, 340. 

china dolls, 342. 

Chopin, 336. 

Christ, see Tolstoy, philosophy: 

Christian anarchy, 124, 274, 361. 

Christianity, 215, 231, 241, 246, 
254, 297, 315, 317, 329, 330. 

Christianity and Patriotism, 299. 

Christians, Free, 289. 

Christmas festival, 136. 

church and state, 245, 246, 319. 

Churchill, 58. 

Circassians, 49, 50, 52. 

Civil War (U. S.), 6. 

civilization, see Tolstoy, philosophy : 

Coleridge, 297. 

comedies, 131, 306, 308, 318. 

Comenius, 124. 

common people, inborn excellence 
of, 36, 43, 56, 96, 104, 119, 
121, 187-188, 214, 215, 219- 
220, 242, 307, 335-336. 



common soldiers, 43-44, 45, 175. 
communal life, 289. 
compulsion, critique of Tolstoy's 
NJ attitude on, 123. 
Confession, see My Confession. 
Confession of Faith, Tolstoy's, 

Confessions (Rousseau), 16, 18. 
Confucius, 231. 
Congreve, 185. 
Conquest of Mexico, 17. 
Constantine, 241. 
Constantinople, 56. 
Contemporary, 24, 57-59, 61, 72, 74. 
Conversations with EcJcermann, 352. 
copyright, 262, 287, 290. 
Corinthians, 311. 
Correspondence inedite, 301. 
Cossack girl, Tolstoy's love of, 48, 

49, 61. 
Cossacks, 49, 290. 
Cossacks, 12, 49-53, 134, 246. 
Count Leo Tolstoy Twenty Years Ago, 

Count of Monte Cristo, see Monte 

Course of Reading, 237, 300. 
courts of law, 136,145-147, 239, 321. 
Cowley, 343. 

creed, Tolstoy's, 296-298. 
Crimea, 38. 
Crimean War, 38, 54. 
Critique of Dogmatic Theology, 220, 

222, 223-226, 227, 331, 332. 
critique of modern art, see What is 

"cry-baby Leo," 20. 

Dante, 343, 357, 363. 
Danube principalities, 38. 
Daphnis and Chloe, 342. 
David Copperfield, 16, 20, 25, 340. 
Dead House, see House of the Dead. 
Dead Souls, 16, 58, 159. 
Death of Ivan Ilyvitch, 248, 262, 305, 
307-308, 360. 

Decadents, French, 336. 

Decembrists, 131, 151, 171-172. 

Departure of Tolstoy, 226, 356. 

Devil, 306, 317. 

Dewey, Professor, 122. 

Diary, 12, 22, 46, 48, 61, 63, 68, 

81, 85, 86, 227, 231, 236, 258, 

259, 267, 288, 314, 315, 317, 

318, 356. 
Dickens, 16, 21, 190, 336, 339. 
Dictionary of Music, 17. 
disciples, see Tolstoyans. 
dissenters, 218, 220, 226. 

see also sectarians. 
Doges' Palace, 334. 
doggerel verses, 22, 38. 
Dolgoruky, 280. 
Don Quixote, 184. 
Don Quixote, 340. 
Donne, 343. 
Dostoyevsky, 3, 75, 159, 209, 323, 

340, 357, 358. 
Down Mother Volga, 119. 
Dragomirov, General, 179. 
drama, Tolstoy's interest in, 131, 

308-310, 318, 323, 348-354. 
Dresden, 72. 
Druzhinin, 72. 

Dukhobors, 242, 289, 290, 291, 321. 
Dumas, Alexander, 176, 324. 
Durward, Quentin, 184. 


Ecclesiastes, 211. 

education, aristocratic English view 

of, 104. 
education, Tolstoy's interest in, 87. 

see also Tolstoy, views on. 
Education and Culture, 9, 90, 93, 

102, 104. 
education in France, 72, 95-97. 
education in Germany, 72, 91, 95. 
educational problems, see Tolstoy, 

views on education. 
Eliot, George, 205. 
emancipation movement, 54, 56, 59, 

77-81, 126, 293. 



Emerson, 231, 275, 300, 349, 361- 

Emile, 16, 18, 31, 124, 129. 

England, 54, 55, 57, 106, 146, 147, 
189, 226, 285, 287, 318, 

Enough, Tolstoy's estimate of, 304. 

Epictetus, 231. 

Epicureanism, 212. 

Epicureans, 214. 

Epilogue to the Kreutzer Sonata, 
313 314. 

Ergolsky, Tatyana, 5, 15, 69, 86, 
138, 139, 149, 162, 199. 

Esarhaddon, 305. 

eschatalogica! expectation, 244. 

esthetics, see What is Art? and Tol- 
stoy, views on esthetics. 

"Eternal Memory," 357. 

ethical teachings, see Tolstoy, 
philosophy: religious. 

Ethics (Aristotle), 360. 

eudsemonists, 253, 254. 

Eugene Onegin, 16, 57. 

Eunuchs, sect of, 316. 

"excommunication" of Tolstoy, 226, 

execution, effect of seeing, on Tol- 
stoy, 63, 73. 

faith, see Tolstoy, philosophy: re- 

Falstaff, 350. 

fame of Tolstoy, 3-4, 48, 87, 144, 
163, 357-359. 

Family Chronicle, 25. 

Family Happiness, 62-63, 134. 

family life, Tolstoy's denunciation 
of, 311. 
but see also (under Tolstoy; tem- 
perament) love of family life. 

famine relief work, 106, 142-143, 
282-285, 287, 298. 

Faresov, 288. 

Father Ambrose, 286. 

Father Sergy, 286, 306, 317. 

Feinermann, 262, 263, 284, 289, 309, 

see also Teneromo. 
Fet, 22, 71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 130, 140, 

141, 143, 150, 152, 154, 155, 

156, 157, 211, 287. 
Fielding, 198. 
folk songs, 342. 
folk tales, 342, 344. 
footman, story of, see Forna. 
Forna, 280-281. 
Fourth Bastion, 38. 
Fragment, 149. 
France, 73, 90, 95. 
France, Anatole, 342. 
Francis of Assisi, 330. 
Frankfort, 73. 
fraternizing, 45. 

Free Christians, Society of, 289. 
Free Masons, 187. 
French bourgeoisie, 307. 
French Naturalists, 183. 
French Revolution, 151. 
French schools, see education in 

Froebel, 122. 
Fruits of Enlightenment, 306, 318-319. 

Garshin, 48. 

George, Henry, 292, 293, 300, 324. 

German Kultur, 125. 

German schools, see education in 

Germany, 90, 95, 211, 226, 285, 310, 

God Sees the Truth, 116, 305, 344. 
Goethe, 127, 163, 308, 336, 352, 357, 

362, 363. 
Gogol, 16, 21, 58, 75, 115, 159, 208. 
Goncharov, 57. 
G6ngora, 343. 
Gorky, 3. 
Gospels, 17, 68, 140, 219, 227-232, 

237, 241, 242, 245, 246, 251, 

286, 288, 296, 361. 
Fourth Gospel, 229. 



Gospel of Luke, 269. 

Gospel of Matthew, 16, 224, 237, 

241, 297. 
government, see Tolstoy, attitude 

Grace Abounding, 360. 
Graham, Stephen, 34. 
"great writer of the Russian land," 

303, 304, 363. 
Greece, 211. 
Greek language, see Tolstoy, Greek 

Greeks, 328, 330. 
"green stick," 365. 
Grigorovich, 16, 57. 
Grigoryev, Mark, 80. 
Gromeka, 71. 
guillotine, 64. 
Gypsies, 22. 


Hadji Murad, 306, 323-325. 

Hal, Prince, 184. 

Hannibal, 31. 

Hardy, 247. 

Harmony and Translation of the 

Four Gospels, 222, 227-232, 

233, 238, 240, 248, 249. 
Hawthorne, 201. 
Haydn, 70. 
Hector, 353. 
hedonists, 253, 254. 
Helen of Troy, 163. 
Henry IV, 95, 96. 
Henry, O., 58. 
herdsman killed by bull, 144. 
heretic, Tolstoy considered, 295. 
hermit, Orthodox, 141. 
Hero of our Time, 16. 
Herodotus, 141. 
Herrick, Robert, 58, 204. 
Herzen, 73, 83, 84. 
history, modern conception of, 180, 

181, 183. 
history, Tolstoy's philosophy of, 

131, 161, 175-184, 245. 
(for detailed references see War 

and Peace.) 

History of Modern Russian Litera- 
ture, 152. 
Holstomer, see Linen-Measurer. 
Holy Synod: 

"excommunicates" Tolstoy, 295. 

Tolstoy's reply to, 296-298. 
Homer, 47, 68, 140, 177, 332, 353, 

Homyakov, 68. 
horse, story of, 130. 
House of the Dead, 159, 340. 
How Count Tolstoy Lives and Works, 

How the Other Half Lives, 269. 
Howells, 193. 
Hugo, 336, 339, 358. 
Hungary, 288. 
Hyeres, 73. 

Ibsen, 127, 338. 
idle rich, 219, 272, 334, 336. 
Idyl, 37. 

Iliad, 68, 341, 353. 
Imitation of Christ, 360. 
Incursion, 48. 
India, 211. 

individual liberty, 125. 
individualism, see Tolstoy, philos- 
Inspector-General, 58. 
international relations, 298. 
Isaiah, 268. 
Islenev, Miss, 85. 
Istomin, 280. 
Ivanhoe, 176, 345. 

Jena, 107. 

Jerusalem, brand of, 112. 

John Bellows: Letters and Memoir, 

John the Baptist, 269. 
John the Evangelist, 252. 
Joseph, 344-345. 
Joseph and his Brethren, 117, 340, 

341, 342. 



Journal, see Diary. 

jural theories of ethics, 252, 253. 

jury service, Tolstoy refuses, 257. 


Kaloshin, Sonichka, 61. 

Kaluga, 285. 

Kant, 139, 221, 231, 234, 253, 254, 

Kareyev, 181. 

Katkov, 49, 134, 135, 142, 151. 
Kazan, University of, 9, 10, 13, 

Khayyam, Omar, 210-212. 
Kingdom of God Is Within You, 

Koltsov, 109. 
Koni, Senator, 306. 
Koran, 92. 
Krapivo, 289. 
Kremlin, Moscow, 86. 
Kreutzer Sonata, 248, 306, 311-317, 

318, 321, 323, 348, 360. 
forbidden in mails, 313. 
Krishna, 231. 
Kropotkin, 65. 
Ksyunin, 226, 356. 
kumys cure, Tolstoy takes, 81, 85, 

141, 148. 
Kutuzov, 161, 175, 176, 179. 

Lake, Kirsopp, 244. 
land, see Tolstoy, philosophy: social, 
landed gentry, 6, 54, 59, 84. 
"landed proprietors' literature," 

Lao-tsze, 231, 300. 
Last Daijs of L. N. Tolstoy, 357. 
Leipzig, 72. 

Leonardo da Vinci, 336. 
Lermontov, 16, 21, 48, 49, 51. 
Les Miser ables, 339. 
letter box, Tolstoy family, 22, 281. 
letter to Tsar Alexander III, 257. 
letter to Tsar Nicholas II, 294. 

Letters, see Tolstoy, Countess Alex- 
andra Andreyevna, Tolstoy, 
Countess Sofya Andreyevna, 
Biryukov, Feinermann, Fet, 
Rakhmanov, Sergeyenko, 
Strakher, Styka. 

Levochka, 133, 280-281. 

Liberals, 55, 56, 58, 64, 68, 78, 83, 
104, 125, 126, 134, 144, 152, 
184, 207, 293. 

liberty, individual, 125. 

life, philosophy of, see Tolstoy, 

Life and Conversations of L. N. 
Tolstoy, 309. 

Life of a Soldier s Wife (written by 
two boys), 113. 

Life of Tolstoy, see Biryukov and 

Light Shineth in Darkness, see And 
the Light Shineth in Darkness. 

Linen-Measurer, 130. 

literature, position of, in Russia, 

literature for peasants, 287. 

Little Philip, 117-119. 

Little Russia, 10. 

Living Corpse, 306, 323. 

Living Words of L. N. Tolstoy, 263, 

London, 72, 73, 145. _ 

Lovers of Russian Literature, So- 
ciety of, 68, 304. 

Love's Labor's Lost, 343, 352. 

Lucerne, 65. 

Lucretius, 6. 

lunatic asylum, see Bulletin of the 
Patients at Yasnaya Polyana 
Lunatic Asylum. 

Lyly, 343. 


Macaulay, 95. 

Macbeth, 184. 

Macbeth, 341. 

Maeterlinck, 338. 

Makary, 223. 

Makovitsky, Doctor, 288, 355, 356. 



Malikov, 288. 

Malory, 248. 

manor life in Russia, 7, 160, 358. 

mare's milk, see kumys cure. 

Margaret (Goethe's), 163. 

Marini, 343. 

marriage, Tolstoy's views on, 62, 
311-312, 313. 

Marseilles, 72, 95, 96. 

Marx, Karl, 274. 

Marx (publisher), 290. 

Massachusetts meeting house, 334. 

Master and Man, 306, 308. 

Master Spirits of Literature, 163, 

Maude {Life of Tolstoy), 21, 22-, 40, 
262, 278, 279, 293, 294, 295, 
299, 300, 317. 
{Tolstoy and His Problems), 231, 

Maupassant, 247, 340, 346-348. 

meaning of life, search for, see 
Tolstoy, philosophy. 

Mediator, 287. 

Meditations, 360. 

merchant class, 8. 

Merezhkovsky, 170. 

Merimee, 22. 

Messenger of Europe, 114, 293. 

metaphysics, Tolstoy's lack of in- 
terest in, 221, 254. 
see also Tolstoy, philosophy. 

Metropolitan Art Museum, 335. 

Metropolitan of Moscow, 223. 

Michelangelo, 336. 

Milton, 13, 349, 363. 

Minnesota, Bulletin of the Univer- 
sity of, 352. 

Minor, Rabbi, 268. 

Mohammedanism, 215. 

Moliere, 298, 308, 340, 343, 357, 

Molokane, 141, 226. 

monastery, attempt to confine Tol- 
stoy in, 295. 

monasticism, 285, 315. 

monologues, 309. 

Montaigne, 266. 

Monte Cristo, 96. 

Montesquieu, 10. 

Montessori, Madame, 122. 

moral problems, Tolstoy's interest 

in, 16, 26, 32, 189, 201, 206- 

209, 306. 
see also Tolstoy, philosophy. 
Moravin Brethren, 364. 
Morning of a Landed Proprietor, 11, 

61, 78. 
Morozov, Vasily, 111, 114. 
Morte Darthur, 248. 
Moscow, 7, 11, 34, 49, 62, 68, 82, 

84, 86, 89, 160, 169, 171, 

179, 192, 256, 263, 266, 272, 

280, 282, 287, 302, 304. 
Committee of Literacy, 89. 
Napoleon's retreat from, 160, 

Tolstoy's life in, 66, 267. 
Moscow Gazette, 142. 
motherhood, 169-170, 273, 311. 
moving-picture shows, 335. 
music, 22, 70, 348. 
musician, incident of, 65. 
My Confession, 12, 15, 59, 64, 73, 

122, 139, 199, 205-218, 221, 

226, 229, 247, 360. 
prohibited by censor, 302. 
Turgenev's impression of, 302. 
My Literary Passions, 193. 
My Religion, 222, 229, 230, 232, 

233, 237, 238, 239, 240, 241, 

251, 268, 298, 300, 305, 315, 

320, 361. 


Napoleon, 4, 131, 160, 161, 175, 176, 

177, 179, 180, 181, 185, 187, 

Nationalists, Official, 54, 55, 56, 

nationality, 55, 125, 126. 
Naturalists, French, 183. 
nature, see Tolstoy, views on. 
nature, return to, see Tolstoy, 

philosophy; social. 



Nekrasov, 24, 57, 76, 134. 

New Primer, 88, 119. 

New Testament, 108, 268. 

Newcome, Colonel, 184. 

Nibelungs, Song of the, 341. 

Nicholas I, 54, 105. 

Nicholas II, 294. 

nobility, Russian, 6, 8, 54. 

Nobleman's Nest, 75. 

Nogay, 51. 

non-resistance to evil, see Tolstoy, 
philosophy: religious. 

Nouvelle Helotse, 16, 18, 19, 20. 

novelists' influence on public opin- 
ion, 57. 

"Numidian cavalry," 136. 

Odysseus, 353. 

Odyssey, 353. 

officers, Russian, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 

Official Nationalists, 54, 55, 56, 

Old Testament, 108, 115, 237, 268. 
On Life, 234, 236, 251, 333. 
On Methods of Teaching Reading, 90, 

98, 101. 
On Non-Resistance to Evil by Evil, 

231, 250, 266. 
On Popular Education, 1862, 90, 92, 

93, 97, 98, 285. 
On Popular Education, 187^, 88, 89, 

90, 92, 98, 99, 100, 106. 
On Shakespeare and the Drama, 348- 

On the Census in Moscow, 269. 
On the Eve, Tolstoy's criticism of, 75. 
On the Sex Question, 316. 
On the Truth in Art, 305. 
On Tolstoy {comp. Sergeyenko), 112, 

323, 371. 
Optin Monastery, 285, 286, 356. 
Orthodox Church, 15, 58, 143, 205, 

206, 216-219, 223-226, 256, 

285, 295-298. 
see also Tolstoy, philosophy. 

orthodoxy, 55, 126. 

Ostrovsky, 57. 

Othello (study of, by Stoll), 352. 

paganism, 330. 
painting, 22. 
Panama Canal, 180. 
Panayev, 57. 
Paradise Lost, 341. 
Paris, 62, 63, 64, 72, 73. 
Pascal, 231. 

patriotism, see Tolstoy, views on. 
Patriotism and Government, 299. 
Patriotism or Peace, 299. 
peace, Tolstoy an apostle of inter- 
national, 298. 
peasants, 7, 11, 19, 83, 187, 202, 340. 
and the land question, 292, 293. 
illiteracy of, 57, 187. 
literature for, 287. 
school, for, 11, 19, 72, 77, 81, 87, 

88, 89, 105, 106-120, 122. 
Tolstoy's affection for, 8, 126, 129. 
his insight into their life, 358. 
his treatment of, 78. 
his peasant drama, 308-311. 
see also common people, emanci- 
pation movement, serfdom, 
pedagogues, 100. 
pedagogy, theories of, 99. 
pessimism, see Tolstoy, philosophy: 

Peter the Great, 5, 148, 149, 225. 
Petulengro, 172. 

philosophy, see Tolstoy, philosophy; 
also War and Peace, philos- 
ophy of history. 
Pilgrim's Progress, 342. 
Plato, 231, 234, 254, 300, 330, 

333, 360. 
Plutarch, 31. 
Poe, 277. 

poetry, see Tolstoy, views on. 
police search Tolstoy's premises, 
82-84, 144. 



Polikushka, 74, 78, 134. 
Turgenev's estimate of, 74. 

political discussion in Russia, 54, 
57-58, 77. 

political parties in Russia, 54-56. 

politics, Tolstoy's indifference to, 
45, 59, 64, 134, 152, 294. 

Polonsky, 154, 302, 303. 

Pompey, 31. 

popular schools, government plan 
for, 105. 

Port Arthur, fall of, 299. 

Postnikov, F. A., 190. 

Potiphar's wife, 344-345. 

"poverty, chastity, and disobedi- 
ence," 315. 

Power of Darkness, 220, 248, 305, 
308-311, 360. 
Tolstoy's account of writing, 309. 

Preface to Bdndarev's Work, 251. 

Preface to the Works of Guy de Mau- 
passant, 346-348. 

Prescott, 16. 

Priam, 353. 

Primer, 88, 90, 115, 116, 148, 152. 
New Primer, 88, 119. 

printing press, 276. 

Prisoner of the Caucasus (Pushkin), 

Prisoner of the Caucasus (Tolstoy), 
305, 344. 

prisons, 321. 

private schools prohibited, 105. 

Prodigal Son, 341. 

progress, critique of, Tolstoy's re- 
jection of Liberals' ideal of, 
see also Tolstoy's views on prog- 

Progress and the Definition of Educa- 
tion, 90, 94, 95, 102. 

Project of a General Plan for Organ- 
izing Popular Schools, 90, 105. 

property, see Tolstoy, philosophy: 

prophet, Tolstoy, the type of, 363. 

Protestantism, 55. 

Protestants, 218, 223. 

Proudhon, 73, 258. 

Proverbs, 181. 

Psalter, 100. 

public opinion molded by novelists, 

Puritan point of view, 253, 306, 313, 

of Anna Karenin, 189, 197-201. 
Pushkin, 3, 5, 10, 16, 21, 48, 49, 

50, 57, 115, 119, 121, 147, 

149, 150, 159, 208, 340, 344. 
Puvis de Chavannes, 338. 


Quakers, 242, 321-322. 


Radstock, Lord, 321. 

railroads, 276. 

Rakhmanov, Tolstoy's letters to, 

230, 300. 
Raphael, 336. 

rationalist, Tolstoy a, 253, 316. 
Rayevsky, 282. 
Readers, 88, 90, 115, 344. 
reading, methods of teaching, 100. 
realism, Russian, 58. 

see also Tolstoy, literary work, 
reason, denial of, 215, 216, 217, 221. 
Red Laugh, 48. 

religion, Tolstoy's idea of, 333. 
religious teachings of Tolstoy, see 

Tolstoy, philosophy. 
Reminiscences (Behrs), 131-132, 135, 

137, 141, 148, 149, 246, 261, 

Reminiscences of Tolstoy (Count Ilya 
Tolstoy), 20, 132-134, 136- 

138, 162, 255-256, 279-280, 
_ 280-281, 281-282, 285, 304. 

Renaissance, 330. 
Repin's portrait of Tolstoy, 278. 
Reply to the Holy Synod, 296-298. 
Republic, 360. 

Resurrection, 200, 248, 290, 294, 
306, 319-323, 344. 



copyright of, 290. 
dramatization of, 308. 
published for Dukhobors, 290. 
retreat from Moscow, 160, 187. 
return to nature, see Tolstoy, philos- 
ophy: social. 
Revolutionists, Tolstoy, picture of, 

Richard the Lion-hearted, 177. 
riddle of life, 221, 229, 247, 289. 
see also Tolstoy, philosophy: re- 
Riis, Jacob, 269. 
Robbers, 16. 
Robinson Crusoe, 342. 
"Robinson Crusoe life," 279. 
Rolland, 232. 

on Death of Ivdn Ilyich, 307. 
on War and Peace, 160. 
Roman Catholics, 218, 223. 
Roman Poets of the Augustan Age: 

Virgil, 6, 38, 194. 
Romeo and Juliet, 352. 
Rousseau, 16, 17-20, 21, 31, 34, 121, 
122, 124, 125, 126, 129, 231, 
246, 247, 276, 363. 
Rubinstein, 153. 
Rugby Chapel, 347. 
Rurik, 5. 
Ruskin, 276. 
Russian Church, see Orthodox 

Russian common soldiers, 43, 44, 

45, 175. 
Russian court, 64. 
Russian life, Tolstoy describes only, 4. 
Russian literature, position of, 57- 

Russian Literature (Kropotkin), 65. 
Russian Messenger, 134, 135, 151. 
Russian nationality, 55, 125, 126. 
Russian nobility, 68, 54. 
Russian officers, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46. 
Russian political parties, 54-56. 
Russian realisir, 58. 

see also Tolstoy, literary work. 
Russian schools of political thought, 

Russian sectarianism, 142. 
Russian society, 6-8, 357. 
Russian standards, 14, 199, 313. 
Russian temperament, 14, 209, 358. 
Russky Vestnik, see Russian Mes- 
Russo-Japanese War, 299. 
Russo-Turkish War, 1853, 11, 38. 
Russo-Turkish War, 1877, 151, 218. 
Ryazan, 282. 
Ryleyev, 10. 


St. Paul, 241, 269, 311, 315. 

St. Petersburg, 7, 10, 13, 39, 42, 56, 

65, 82, 83, 142, 148, 160, 166, 

192, 196, 257, 268, 289. 
University of, 10. 
Saladin, 177. 
Samara, Province of, 81, 141, 142, 

208, 260. 
T. buys estate in, 142. 
Saxony, Elector of, 149. 
Scarlet Letter, 34, 201. 
Schiller, 16, 336. 
schools, Tolstoy visits French and 

German, 72, 95-96. 
schools for peasants, see peasants, 

schools for; also Yasnaya 

Poly ana School, 
schools of political thought in 

Russia, 54-56. 
Schools of Tomorrow, 122. 
Schopenhauer, 139, 152, 211, 213, 

247, 254. 
Schuyler, Eugene, 159. 
Schweizerhof hotel, incident with 

musician at, 65. 
science, see Tolstoy, views on. 
Scott, Sir Walter, 47, 176, 177, 190. 
Scythians, 141. 
search of Tolstoy's premises by 

police, 82-84, 144. 
sectarianism, 142. 
sectarians, 141, 218, 226, 242, 268, 

275, 280, 289, 316, 358. 
see also dissenters, 
"see through with love," 159, 359. 



Self-dependence, 347. 

Sellar, 6, 37, 194. 

Semenov, 293. 

Sentimental Journey, 16, 19, 23, 36. 

serfdom, 54, 58, 59, 78, 358. 

serfs, 7, 54, 77, 293. 
see also peasants. 

Sergeyenko, How Count Tolstoy 
Lives and Works, 345. 
letters collected by, 150, 230, 262, 
284, 300, 311. 

Sermon on the Mount, 16, 17, 237. 

Sevastopol, 61, 64, 71. 
siege of, 22, 38. 

Sevastopol, 34, 38, 39-48, 66, 175, 197. 

sex instinct, see Tolstoy, views on. 

Shakespeare, 185, 208, 308, 343, 
348-354, 357, 359, 361, 362, 

Shamil, 324. 

Shamordino convent, 286, 356. 

Shaw, 352. 

Sherman, General, 41. 

Short Exposition of the Gospel, 222. 

Siberia, 171, 286, 320. 

Sienkiewicz, 41, 176, 358. 

single tax, 292-293. 

Skabichevsky, 152, 199. 

Slavophiles, 55, 56, 68, 125, 126, 
149, 151, 152. 

Smoke, Tolstoy's estimate of, 155. 

Snowstorm, 61, 308. 

social doctrines of Tolstoy, see Tol- 
stoy, philosophy: social. 

Socialists, 55, 56, 275, 276, 293, 294. 

society, Russian, see Russian society. 

Society of Friends, see Quakers. 

Society of Lovers of Russian Litera- 
T.'s initiation speech before, 68. 
T. accepts invitation to speak on 
Turgenev before, 304. 

Socrates, 211, 231. 

Soden, 72, 73. 

soldiers, common, 43-44, 45, 175. 

Solomon, 211, 212. 

Song of the Nibelungs, 341. 

Speransky, 176, 185. 

Sportsman's Sketches, 16. 

Starogladkovskaya, 11. 

Stary Yurt, 11. 

Stendhal, 47. 

steppes, 141. 

Sterne, 16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 36. 

Stewardship of Faith, 244. 

Stoics, 361. 

Stoll, Professor F. E., 352. 

story written by two boys, 113. 

Strakhov, Nikolay, 150, 152, 156, 

194, 240, 358. 
Strunsky, 22, 227, 231, 236, 288, 

315, 318. 
Stundists, 226. 
Styka, Jan, 232. 
suicide, see Tolstoy, views on. 
Sunday newspapers, 334. 
Swedenborg, 362. 
"sweet Auburn," 310. 
Swift, 360. 
Swinburne, 342, 343. 
Switzerland, 64, 226, 287. 
Synod, see Holy Synod. 
Sytin, 287. 
Syutayev, 268, 271, 273, 280. 

Taine, 157. 

Tale of Two Cities, 339, 341. 

Talisman, 176. 

Talmud, 237. 

Tanya, see Behrs, Tatyana. 

Tatyana, "aunt," see Ergolsky. 

taxation, see Tolstoy, philosophy: 

Tchaykovsky, see Chaykovsky. 
teachers' seminary, 89. 
teachings of Tolstoy, see Tolstoy, 

teleological theories of ethics, 252, 

Teneromo (pseud, for Feinermann), 

263, 289, 309. 
Terek (river), 51. 
text-books, Tolstoy's work on, 88, 

90, 115, 116. 



Thackeray, 35. 

theology, Tolstoy's lack of interest 
in, 221, 223. 
see also Tolstoy, philosophy: 

Theosophe, 232. 

Thoughts on Education and Instruc- 
tion, 123. 

Thoughts on God, 62, 356. 

Three Deaths, 66, 131. 

T.'s own criticism on, 66-67. 

Three Musketeers, 96. 

Tikhon and Melanya, 37. 

To the Working People, 293. 

Topffer, 25, 36. 

Tolstoy, Countess Alexandra An- 
dreyevna (father's cousin), 
15, 16, 20, 64, 66, 70, 75, 77, 

81, 82, 85, 87, 106, 115, 129, 
134, 142, 144, 146, 147, 148, 
236, 256, 295. 

her impressions of Tolstoy, 15, 
64-65, 256-257. 
Tolstoy, Alexandra (daughter of 

L. N.), 356. 
Tolstoy, Dmitry (Mitenka) (brother 

of L. N.), 6, 14, 364. 
Tolstoy, Count Ilya (grandfather of 

L. N.), 5, 161. 
Tolstoy, Count Ilya (son of L. N.), 
20, 132-134, 136-138, 162, 
255, 279, 280, 282, 283, 285. 
Tolstoy, Count Leo (Lev Niko- 
anarchism, see philosophy: social, 
ancestors, 5, 148, 161-162. 
arbiter of the peace, 77, 79, 81, 

82, 87. 
arrest, 145. 

art criticism, see views on esthetics; 
and What is Art? 

asceticism, see philosophy: re- 

attitude towards: 

church and state, 245, 246, 

Contemporary group, 59-61. 

courts of law, 136, 145-147, 
239, 321. 

government, 82, 83, 104-105, 
197, 202, 272, 273, 293, 
294, 295, 321. 
Liberals, 56, 59, 61, 64, 68, 78, 
83, 104, 124, 126, 144, 207, 
293, 294. 
literary men, 60, 61, 277. 

see also quarrel with Turgenev. 

Nationalists, 56, 134. 

political parties, see Liberals, 

Nationalists, Socialists, 


politics, 45, 59, 64, 134, 152, 

Slavophiles, 5Q, 126, 149. 
Socialists, 5Q, 293, 294. 
authorship, first plans for, 23. 
autobiographical elements in 
works, 5, 23, 25, 48, 61, 
62, 65, 85, 86, 116, 161, 
186, 201, 202, 205, 217, 
222, 240, 266, 268. 
bear hunt, 70-71, 116. 
birth, 6. 

book-keeping methods, 285. 
burial, 357, 365. 

conflict between life and ideals, 
36-37, 60, 241, 255, 257, 
259, 261, 264, 265, 279, 282, 
283-284, 290, 293, 355, 
conversion, 7, 21, 5Q, 71, 77, 89, 
152, 205-217, 219, 236, 
246, 248, 255, 257, 258, 
259, 287, 300, 302, 306, 
310, 315, 320. 
creed, 296-298. 
death, 357. 

defends private soldier, 135. 
didactic writings, see educational 

disciples, see Tolstoyans. 
divides his estate, 261-262. 
education of, 6, 8, 9, 10. 
educational writings, list of, 90. 
see also views on education. 



esthetics, see views on esthetics, 
ethical teachings, see philosophy, 
"excommunication," 226, 295. 
family, see Tolstoy, Alexandra, 
Dmitry, etc. ; also Ergolsky, 
Tatyana, and Volkonsky 
family life, 85, 158, 161. # 

home life before marriage, 69. 
early married life, 128-130. 
letter box, 22, 281. 
Count Ilya's account of, 136- 

138, 255-256. 
friction caused by his religious 
views, 255, 261-265, 355. 
famine relief work, 106, 142-143, 

282-285, 287, 298. 
farming interests, 71, 135, 207, 

father, see Tolstoy, Nikolay. 
field labors, 277-278. 
financial success of literary work, 

24, 134, 207, 290. 
flight from home, 240, 263, 288. 
letter to wife about, 355-356. 
earlier letter to wife, 264-265. 
gambling debts, 15, 49. 
grandfather (maternal), 162. 
Greek studies, 140, 141, 227. 
habits of work, 9, 131-134. 
handwriting, 133. 
Hebrew studies, 268. 
home life, see family life, 
individualism, see philosophy, 
influence of Dickens, Henry 
George, Rousseau, Scho- 
penhauer, Stendhal, Topf- 
fer, Turgenev, see those 

first western, 62-65, 76. 

second western, 72-73. 

to Samara, 81, 140-143. 

to Ryazan, 282. 

to Optin Monastery, 285-286, 

last journey, 240, 263, 266, 288, 

last illness, 356-357. 

last journey, see journeys. 

letter to Tsar Alexander III, 257. 

letter to Tsar Nicholas II, 294. 

literary ideals, 114. 

literary temperament, lack of, 21. 

literary work, characteristics of: 
burning indignation, 360. 
clearness of expression, 346, 

concentration, see unity, 
conversation, treatment of, 308. 
describes only Russian life, 4. 
detail, power over concrete, 26, 

29, 40, 189, 309, 344. 
directness, 52, 140. 
duality of his literary genius, 

189, 201. 
formlessness, see neglect of con- 
ventional technique, 
frankness of speech, 313, 321. 
"high seriousness," 37. 
humor, 224, 319. 
idealism, 183. 
independence, 47, 359. 
individuality, 346, 358. 
insight into human nature, 321, 

358, 359, 361. 
moral fervor, 178, 358, 361. 
moral point of view, 16, 26, 32, 

189, 201, 306, 348, 349, 

352, 360. 
natural scenery, treatment of, 

26-27, 49-52. 
neglect of conventional tech- 
nique, 4, 21, 158-159, 189, 

191, 193, 359. 
neglect of style, 21, 347. 
observation, truth of, 26, 29, 

174, 175, 192, 305. 
pessimism, 211, 248, 306. 

see also philosophy: religious, 
plot interest secondary, 25. 
plots based on real events, 25, 

48, 62, 65, 150. 
psychological analysis, 26, 30, 

41-43, 47, 63, 174, 309. 



Puritan point of view, 189, 197- 

201, 253, 306. 
realism, 4, 25, 30, 51-52, 183, 

201, 308, 344, 348, 351, 
354, 359, 360. 

restraint, 41. 

rhetorical devices avoided, 346. 
simplicity, 52, 140, 344, 346, 354. 
sincerity, 32, 33, 44, 302, 346, 

somber tone of later work, 306. 
suggestion, 191. 
supernatural elements in stories, 

304-305, 345. 

of Death of Ivdn Ilyich, 307. 
lack of, in War and Peace, 158. 
degree of, in Anna Karenin, 
unromantic tone, 4, 49. 
love affairs, 48, 61-62, 63, 85-86. 
marriage, 86, 87, 88, 207. 
military service, 10, 11, 38-39, 

46, 197, 299. 
moral authority, 290. 
mother, see Tolstoy, Marya. 
move to England contemplated, 

move to Moscow, 267. 
old age, 300. 
pessimism, see literary work, and 

philosophy: religious, 
petitions Tsar Alexander II, 84. 

philosophy: religious and 


Tolstoy's religious nature: 
an intuitionalist and emotion- 
alist, 19, 327, 340. 
his search for truth, 9, 14, 45, 

202, 207, 208, 216, 219, 
227, 256, 297, 300, 360, 364. 

his interest in moral prob- 
lems, 16, 26, 32, 45, 46, 184, 
> 189, 196, 201, 277, 344, 356. 

his questionings on the mean- 
ing of life, 207-210, 213, 
214, 221, 229, 235, 289. 

his criticism of manual of 
theology, 219, 223, 226. 

his study of the gospels, 219- 

his development of a religious 
philosophy of life, 46-47, 
121, 122, 123, 161, 204, 219, 
221, 222-242, 245, 255, 259. 

his relations to Orthodox Church: 
early faith, 15, 205. 
loss of faith, 15, 205. 
questionings, 207-217. 
study of religions, 215. 
return to faith and the 

Church, 216. 
abandonment of Church, 218, 

denunciation of Church, 224- 

* ' excommunication,' ' 226, 


Ms ethical teachings: 

against taking oaths, 238-239. 
asceticism, 140, 201, 241, 245, 

248-250, 251, 254, 277, 

284, 311, 314, 316. 

condemnation of, 249-250, 
Christian anarchy, 124, 127, 

274, 361. 
dislike of civilization, 19, 65, 

95, 121, 124, 245, 246-247, 

dual nature of human life, 

five commandments, 238, 251, 

inborn excellence of lowly 

people, 36, 43, 56, 96, 104, 

119, 121, 187-188, 214, 215, 

219-220, 242. 307, 335-336. 
individualism, 45, 46, 56, 59, 

84, 122, 125, 126, 127, 176, 

183, 228, 245, 275, 288, 358. 
love, 139, 146, 188, 245, 250- 

252, 254, 284, 301. 



of enemies, 229-230. 

of God, 231, 251, 339. 

of one's neighbor (all men), 
231, 238, 251, 339. 

brotherly love, 4, 17, 218, 
278, 297. 
1 non-resistance to evil, 17, 123, 

127, 188, 237, 238, 242, 

300, 316, 361. 
pessimism, 139, 211-213, 245, 

247, 248. 
physical labor a cure for 

spiritual ills, 202, 240, 273, 

pious mendicancy, 240, 249, 

renunciation of animal per- 
sonality, 234-235, 249, 251- 

252 316. 
self-sacrifice, 127, 248, 250, 

254, 277. 
service of others, 127, 250, 

universal forgiveness, 17.. 

his views on: 

ceremonies (religious), see 

sacraments and ceremonies. 
Christ, 15, 206, 217, 223, 227, 

228, 230, 231, 233, 296. 
Church practices, 218. 
communion, 216, 217, 225, 

confession, 15, 217. 
death, 34, 66-67, 131, 215, 

233, 236, 298. 
dogmas, 16, 34. 
faith, 214, 217, 220, 232. 
fasting, 216. 
God, 15, 34, 68, 206, 214, 221, 

227, 229, 232, 233, 236, 242, 

immortality, 15-16, 34, 213, 

232-237, 242, 316. 
infallibility of Jesus, 227. 
miracles, 223, 228. 
prayer, 15, 83, 216, 225, 296, 


redemption, 223. 
relics, worship of, 216. 
resurrection, 223, 228. 
revelation, 68. 

sacraments and ceremonies, 
salvation by faith, 223. 
Trinity, 214, 223, 296. 

philosophy: social 
general characteristics: 

anarchistic tendencies, 56, 
127, 238-239, 241, 273, 274, 
282, 293, 294. 
individualism, 126, 275. 
premises unsound, 277. 
reactionary character of his 
remedies, 276. 


communal organization of 

land property, 258. 
duty of child-bearing, 273. 
idle rich cause of poverty, 

labor the cure for social ills, 

249, 271-272, 277. 
return to nature, 245, 246- 

247, 273, 275-277. 
true charity, 271-272. 

views on: 

almsgiving, 269, 270,278, 283. 
charitable organizations, 269, 

factories, 272. 
land, 258, 292-293. 
money, 251, 266, 272, 273, 

284, 290. 
poverty, 267, 269, 272, 273. 
property, 239, 249, 251, 257- 

prostitution, 270-271. 
single tax, 292-293. 
slum conditions, 267, 269-272. 
taxation, 19, 272, 274. 
philosophy of history, see War and 



pilgrimages to Optin Monastery, 

place in world literature, 3, 163, 

plans to expatriate himself, 84, 

plowing, 278. 
portrait, by Repin, 278. 
property (his own), 144, 145, 

proposes to Sofya Behrs, 85. 
quarrel with Turgenev, 74-77, 154. 
reading, 16-18, 20, 139. 
refuses jury service, 257. 
religious teachings, see philosophy, 
reply to Bellows, 322-323. 
reply to Holy Synod, 296-298. 
search of premises by police, 82- 

84, 144. 
shoe-making, 266, 278. 
social doctrines, see philosophy, 
social station, 5, 7, 36, 59, 126, 

137, 141, 144, 241, 251, 280. 
student at Kazan University, 

teachings, see philosophy. 

temperament and personal char- 
appearance, 64-65. 
aristocratic tendencies, 5, 6, 36, 
59, 126, 137, 141, 146, 241, 
251, 280-281, 358. 
aspirations for self-perfection, 
12-13, 32-33, 123, 206, 245. 
see also philosophy, 
boyhood traits, 9. 
brotherly personality, 358. 
business capacity, 71, 79, 106, 
135, 259-262, 282-283, 285. 
common sense, 106, 283. 
consistency, 122, 223. 

lack of, 289. 
democratic sympathies, 36, 141, 

223, 251, 280, 315. 
dislike of city life, 18. 

of doctors and medicine, 19. 
of merchant class, 8. 

of organization (public ac- 
tivity), 56, 104, 176, 182, 
186, 245, 282, 283-284, 288, 
of outward manifestations of 
feeling, 20, 138. 
dissipated early life, 11, 13-14, 
46, 60, 128. 
his account of, in My Con- 
fessions, 206. 
dreams of childhood, 33, 301. 
dress, see manners and dress, 
duality of his nature, 26, 67, 68, 

140, 189, 201. 
emotional side of his nature, 20, 

enthusiastic interest in life, 26, 

66, 248, 306. 
gaiety, 64, 255, 281, 318, 319. 
hasty temper, 76, 80, 82-84, 

132, 146, 147, 157. 
hatred of compromise, 4. 

of vanity, 35, 39. 
high breeding, 202. 
honesty, 39, Q5, 86. 
idealism, 106, 183. 
impetuosity, 158. 
individualism, see philosophy, 
industry, 131-132. 
introspectiveness, see love of 

irritability, 147, 255. 
jealousy of personal liberty, 82- 

84 144—147. 
kindliness, 77, 251, 257, 280, 

literal-mindedness, 230. 
love of admiration, 278. 
of beauty, 325. 
of children, 111-112, 128-130. 
of country life, 11, 18, 26, 202, 

261, 273, 275. 
of family life, 18, 21, 61, 69, 
85, 128-130, 161, 190, 240- 
241, 251, 259, 311. 
of flowers, 142, 325, 332. 
of peasants, 8, 126, 129, 267- 



of self-analysis, 20, 26, 86. 
loyalty to tsar, 56, 84, 126, 197, 

257, 293. 

man of society, 66, 73. 
manners and dress, 18, 59, 66, 

many-sidedness, 3, 310. 
meditative temperament, 26, 32, 

208, 250. 
moral aspirations, 12, 16, 26, 32, 

33, 37, 206, 363, 364. 
see also philosophy, 
moral fervor, 178, 269, 349, 

358, 361. 
moral insight, 361. 
passionate nature, 61, 250. 
personal magnetism, 141, 202. 
personality (general): 

description of, by Countess 

Alexandra Tolstoy, 64-65. 
description of, by Chaykov- 

sky, 153-154. 
description of, by son Ilya, 

137-138, 255-256. 
description of, by self, 281- 

pride of birth, see aristocratic 

prone to tears, 20. 
pugnaciousness, 250. 
religious nature, 46. 

see also philosophy, 
restlessness, 63. 
revolutionary tendencies, 4, 84, 

258, 358. 

sincerity, 18, 26, 32, 33, 35-37, 

m 44, 255, 289, 302. 
spirit of contradiction, 59, 77, 

106, 245, 291, 348. 
sympathy, 141, 197. 
truthfulness, 9, 30-33, 36, 40, 

44, 45, 65, 79, 86, 130, 

155-156, 206, 270-271, 278, 

typically Russian, 4, 258. 
unconventionality, 66. 
vanity, 9, 17, 35, 278. 
vegetarianism, 279. 

lews on: 
art, see esthetics, 
authorship, 207. 
autocracy, 126, 293-294. 
beauty, see esthetics, 
capital punishment, 218. 
celibacy, 311, 313, 315. 
civilization, 19, 65, 95, 121, 124, 

245, 246-247, 275. 
communal life, 289. 
education, 11, 19, 72, 87-127. 
aims, 99, 102, 103, 108. 
cardinal questions, 98. 
compulsion condemned, 90- 

98, 108, 123. 
condemnation of modern prin- 
ciples, 90. 
definition, 101-102. 
discipline and order, 99, 107- 

111, 124. 
example of teacher, 123. 
experience the teacher, 98. 
false aims, 99, 103. 
freedom the criterion, 98, 99, 

individualism, 122, 126-127. 
methods, 99-101. 
peasant schools, 11, 19, 72, 
77, 81, 87, 88, 89, 106-120. 
pedagogues and pedagogy, 

programs, 92, 95, 99, 110. 
religious sanction, 92, 95, 123. 
rewards and punishments, 

Rousseau's influence, 121, 

122, 124, 125, 126. 
school of life, 95-97. 
teachers, 100, 101, 106, 107, 

108, 110. 
teaching of: 

arithmetic, 95, 99, 110. 
art, 119. 
botany, 107. 
composition, 113-114. 
see also Who is to Teach 
the Art of Writing? 
drawing, 107. 



grammar, 110, 112-113. 
literature, 115. 
music, 107, 120, 122. 
reading, 98, 100-101. 
religion, 107-108. 
sacred history, 110. 
singing, 107, 122. 
surveying, 107. 
tendencies, modern, 93. 
works on (by Tolstoy), 90. 
emancipation of serfs, 77-79, 

esthetic, 119-122. 

beauty an unessential ele- 
ment, 32. 
enjoyment of art a natural 

need, 119-120. 
exclusive tendency of art, 

120, 121. 
masses more capable of right 

judgment, 119. 
popular, infectious character 

of art, 325. 
preference for popular stand- 
ards, 119-121. 
Rousseau's influence, 121. 
true science and art, 331- 

truth of moral ideas funda- 
mental, 305. 
understanding of the beauti- 
ful, 119. 

see also What is Art?, 
On Shakespeare and the 
Drama, and Preface to 
the Works of Guy de 
force, see violence, 
land property, see property, 
marriage, 62, 311-312, 313. 
military service, 289-290, 298. 
motherhood, 169-170, 273, 311. 
music, 22, 70, 348. 
nature, 26, 49-52, 70, 236-237. 
painting, 22. 

patriotism, 39, 151, 246, 299. 
poetry, 22, 32, 38, 347. 
prisons, 321. 

progress, 56, 64, 73, 81, 93-95, 
101, 124, 125, 182, 184, 
207, 275, 276, 292. 
public activity (organization), 
56, 104, 176, 182, 186, 245, 
282, 283, 288, 289. 
science, 19, 209-210, 331-332. 
sex instinct, 190, 238, 270, 313- 

suicide, 208, 213, 214, 248, 316. 
taxation of peasants, 19, 272, 

university training, 9-10, 103, 

vanity, 35, 39, 43, 44. 
violence, 64, 98, 102, 123, 127, 
136, 238, 239, 246, 257, 295, 
300, 316, 361. 
war, 40-41, 47-48, 151, 197, 

218, 239, 246, 298, 299. 
women, 212, 262, 311, 317-318. 
visited by Turgenev, 156. 
visits Turgenev, 302. 
wealth, see property (his own), 
wideness of his influence, 3-4, 48, 

wife, see Tolstoy, Countess Sofya 


see Albert, And the Light Shineth 
in Darkness, Anna Karenin, 
Bethink Yourselves, Bulletin 
of the Patients at Yasnaya 
Polyana Lunatic Asylum, 
Childhood, Boyhood and Youth, 
Christianity and Patriotism, 
Cossacks, Course of Reading, 
Critique of Dogmatic Theol- 
ogy, Death of Ivdn Ilyich, 
Decembrists, Devil, Diary, 
Education and Culture, Epi- 
logue to the Kreutzer Sonata, 
Esarhaddon, Family Happi- 
ness, Father Sergy, Fruits of 
Enlightenment, God Sees the 
Truth, Hadji Murad, Har- 
mony and Translation of the 
Four Gospels, Holstomer 

INDEX 393 

(Linen-Measurer), Idyl, In- Tolstoy, Mikhail (son of L. N.), 323. 

cursion, Journal (Diary), Tolstoy, Nikolay (father of L. N.), 

Kingdom of God is Within 5, 161. 

You, Kreutzer Sonata, Linen- Tolstoy, Nikolay (Nikolenka) 

Measurer, Little Philip, Liv- (brother of L. N.), 6, 11, 72, 

ing Corpse, Lucerne, Master 73, 364, 365. 

and Man, Morning of a Tolstoy, Peter, 5. 

Landed Proprietor, My Con- Tolstoy, Sergey (Serezha) (brother 

fession, My Religion, New of L. N.), 6, 13, 86, 280, 364. 

Primer, On Life, On Methods Tolstoy, Sergey (son of L. N.), 149, 

of Teaching Reading, On Non- 266. 

Resistance to Evil, On Popular Tolstoy, Countess Sofya Andrey- 

Education, 1862, On Popular evna (Sonya), 85, 86, 128, 

Education, 1874, On Shake- 129, 132, 135, 145, 148, 149, 

speare and the Drama, On 157, 159, 161, 162, 226, 236, 

the Census in Moscow, On 237, 240, 250, 260, 261, 262, 

the Truth in Art, Patriotism 263, 264, 265, 266, 279, 282, 

and Government, Patriotism 285, 293, 301, 304, 311, 313, 

and Peace, Polikushka, Power 323, 324, 348, 355, 356. 

of Darkness, Preface to Bon- acts as secretary for her husband, 

darev's Work, Preface to the 132-134. 

Works of Guy de Maupassant, character, 128. 

Primer, Prisoner of the Can- her lack of sympathy with Tol- 

casus, Progress and the Defini- stoy's views, 128, 261-265, 

tion of Education, Project of a 355. 

General Plan for Organizing marriage, 86. 

Popular Schools, Readers, Tolstoy's parting letters to, 264- 

Reply to the Holy Synod, 265, 355-356. 

Resurrection, Sevastopol, Short Tolstoy, Tatyana (daughter of L. 

Exposition of the Gospel, N.), 356. 

Snowstorm, Thoughts on Edu- Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, 170. 

cation and Instruction, Tolstoy and His Problems, 231, 347. 

Thoughts on God, Three Tolstoy communities, 287-289. 

Deaths, Tikhon and Melanya, Tolstoy family, 5-6, 161. 

To the Working People, Two Tolstoy anism, 288. 

Hussars, War and Peace, Tolstoyans, 278-279, 287, 289, 291. 

What is Art?, What Men Live Tolstoyites, see Tolstoyans. 

By, What Shall We Do Then?, Tolstoy's "War and Peace" from a 

Who is to Teach the Art of Military Point of View, 179. 

Writing?, Why People Be- Tom Sawyer, 342. 

come Intoxicated,, Yasnaya tragedy, see Power of Darkness. 

Polyana (Journal), Yasnaya Trans-Siberian railway, 180. 

Polyana School, Year 1805, translation of Tolstoy, 347. 

Youth. translations of Tolstoy, 4, 155, 157, 

Tolstoy, Marya (mother of L. N.), 290. 

5, 6, 161, 162. tribute of Tolstoy's pupil, 111-112. 
Tolstoy, Marya (sister of L. N.), truth, Tolstoy's search for, see Tol- 

6, 14, 69, 72, 286, 356. stoy, philosophy: religious. 



Truth the hero of Sevastopol, 45. 
Tschaikowsky, see Chaykovsky. 
Tsinger, 323. 
Tula, 6, 79, 114, 308. 
Turgenev, 3, 16, 57, 59, 63, 66, 
77, 155, 156, 157, 209, 346, 
admiration for Tolstoy, 74, 154, 

302, 303. 
death-bed appeal to Tolstoy, 303. 
influence on Tolstoy, 16, 66. 
quarrel with Tolstoy, 74-77. 
reconciliation, 154. 
Tolstoy's estimate^, 75-76, 155. 
Tolstoy's projected speech on, 

visited by Tolstoy, 302. 
visits Tolstoy, 156. 
Turkey, war with, see Russo-Turk- 

ish war. 
Tver provincial council, 294. 
Twain, Mark, 58. 
Two Hussars, 37, 61. 


Uncle Tom's Cabin, 340, 341. 
Unitarians, 227. 
United States, 55, 105, 335. 
"university in bast shoes," 89. 
university training, see Tolstoy, 
views on. 

V. A., 61-62. 
Vanity Fair, 35. 
Vanka the Steward, 119. 
Vengerov, 89. 
Venus of Milo, 119, 342. 
Verigin, 289, 291, 292. 

Tolstoy's letter to, 291-292. 
Verlaine, 336. 
Veron, 327. 

Vinci, Leonardo da, 336. 
violence, see Tolstoy, views on. 
Virgil, 185, 357. 
Virgil (Sellar's), 6, 33, 194. 

Volkonsky, Princess Marya, see Tol- 
stoy, Marya (mother ofL.N.). 
Volkonsky family, 5-6, 162. 


Wagner, 338. 

war, see Tolstoy, views on. 
War and Peace, 5, 7, 18, 26, 69, 88, 
129, 131, 132, 134, 135, 139, 
143, 148, 152, 154, 157, 158- 
189, 190, 191, 193, 196, 197, 
245, 247, 305, 306, 321, 345, 
349, 359, 360. 
Merezhkovsky's estimate of, 170. 
Rolland's estimate of, 160. 
Tolstoy's own estimate of, 159. 
Turgenev's estimate of, 154. 
elements of, 160. 
Homeric spirit of, 160. 
superficial lack of unity of, 158. 
wolf-hunt in, 172. 

philosophy of history in, 131, 161, 
175-184, 245. 
determinism, 182, 184. 
duality of human nature, 180, 

181, 182. 
fatalism, 180, 183. 
fixity of human nature, 180. 
free will, 182, 184. 
"swarm life," 181, 182. 
Tolstoy's lack of historic in- 
terest, 183. 

see also, under characters in 
Tolstoy's novels: Bezukhov, 
Bolkonsky, Denisov, Kara- 
tayev, Kuragin, Oblonsky, 
Rostov, Sonya. 
Washington, George, 185. 
Waterloo, 47. 
Way of Martha and the Way of Mary, 

Western culture versus Russian 

nationality, 125. 
What is Art?, 121, 305, 325-346. 
art the conscious transfer of emo- 
tion, 326-327, 329, 337, 339, 
344, 347. 



beauty an unessential element, 

325, 326, 327. 
clearness, 346. 
condemnation of esthetic theories, 

326, 330. 
condemnation of four methods of 

producing art, 336-338, 345- 
condemnation of modern art, 331, 
332, 334. 

artificial and obscure, 335, 336. 

errotic, 335. 

essentially bad, 121. 

exclusive, 334-335, 340, 341. 

imitation of pagan art, 330. 

insincere, 335, 336. 

irreligious, 333-334. 

pandering to craving for enjoy- 
ment, 336-337. 

poor in content, 335, 336, 340. 
definition of art, 326-327, 328, 

340, 345. 

essentials of good art, 325-340. 
infectiousness, 325, 326, 327, 

328, 336-337, 338, 340. 
religious point of view, 328- 
334 339—340. 
Good, Beautiful, True, 330-331. 
individuality, 346. 
ornaments, 327-328. 
sincerity, 336, 346. 
Tolstoy's esthetics a corollary of 
his ethics, 326, 329, 339, 340, 

341, 345. 

Tolstoy's estimate of his own ar- 
tistic work, 305, 344. 
universality, 325, 339, 340, 341, 
see also Tolstoy, views on esthet- 
What Men Live By, 305. 
What Shall We Do Then?, 183, 200, 
240, 246, 267-277, 288, 298, 
305, 311, 331, 341, 361. 
see a/-so Tolstoy, philosophy: social. 

Who is to Teach the Art of Writing: 
We to the Peasant Children, or 
the Peasant Children to Us?, 
90, 103, 113. 

Why People Become Intoxicated, 184. 

Widow in the Bye Street, 310. 

Wiener, 62. 

wolf-hunt, see War and Peace. 

women, see Tolstoy, views on. 

Wordsworth, 26. 

working classes, see common people. 

world-affirming ethic, 243-244, 274. 

world-renouncing ethic, 243, 244, 
254, 274. 

Xenophon, 140. 

Yakuts, 328. 

Yasnaya Polyana, 6, 11, 65, 66, 
71, 82, 83, 86, 88, 98, 106, 

112, 135, 144, 260, 263, 278, 

Tolstoy's plan for Christian farm- 
ing at, 11, 260-261. 
Yasnaya Polyana (journal), 88, 89, 

90, 105. 
Yasnaya Polyana School, 11, 19, 
82, 87, 88, 89, 98, 106-120. 
described by Tolstoy, 106-111, 

113, 119-120. 
described by pupil, 111, 112. 

Yasnaya Polyana School in Novem- 
ber and December, 1861, 90, 
108, 110, 113, 120, 326. 

Year 1805 (War and Peace), 134. 

Youth, see Childhood, Boyhood and 

zemestvo, 89. 


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