I've always imagined Tolstoy (1828-1910) as 'just' a great writer. A 'pillar of World Literature,' as he is called.

Tolstoy 1848 (age 20)And a Russian. Very Russian. The people famous for their ability to endure hardship. One of the guys who made the Golden Age of Russian literature golden.

But Tolstoy, I've come to discover, was also very much a THINKER. And not a very shy thinker, either. No, sir. Fearless.

I know more about Dostevsky (1821-1881), who was born 7 years before Tolstoy. But Tolstoy obviously takes a back seat to none.

I have been learning more about him only recently. Very interesting. A real character. Beyond his works, I mean. Beyond his literature. The man himself.

No, Tolstoy does not have a story about a mock execution to tout on his resumé. Nor was his soul tested for years of hard labor in a nasty Siberian prison camp. [ Is there any other kind? ] But Tolstoy didnt let that stop him.

In the 3rd paragraph of the Wikipedia entry, you find the following passage »

"His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr"

So right there, if we go no further .. than having had a profound impact upon the likes Gandhi & King .. uh, that would make a person, any person, a formidable influential force in World History (.. because Gandhi & King each had such large influences. Certainly within Western culture.

••• today's entry continues here below •••

Tolstoy (1828-1910)But Tolstoy doesnt stop there. No, sir. The beat goes on. Da, da dum.

If you are familiar with the McCandless story, then you know it was Tolstoy who spoke to young Christopher ..

.. and gave him the tranquility he craved in his final moments .. that scene at the end .. where the heavens open.

Speaking of movies, if you have not yet seen The Last Station, I would feel safe recommending it. Based on the book by Jay Parini (300 pages).

I have always enjoyed learning about the Artist more than his art .. seeing that the Creator is always greater than his creation. People, you must admit, are very interesting .. particularly when faced with extraordinary challenges. Misery loves company.

Now certainly, nobody in World Literature casts a shadow on Tolstoy .. but, if I were throwing a swanky soirée somewhere, and I could invite but one pillar .. I would invite Dostoevsky.

DostoevskyTolstoy is fascinating, for sure. But Dostoevsky is beyond fascinating.

"What's that you say, Rad? You'd like plumb the depths of the human soul? You'd lke to explore the darkest recesses hidden there?

Pull up a chair. Make yourself comfortable. Do you happen to have any good Ethiopean coffee? I take mine black.

Once upon a time in Siberia .. it was late January, 1850 when we arrived at Katorga. You cannot believe the cold."

I will leave you with a quote from Yeats .. one which you will find at the begininng to the Introduction to the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of Anna Karenina:

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric,
but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.

In other words .. Tolstoy struggled with Anna (within himself). A great struggle .. which produced a great work of art. Poetry. Some (such as Faulkner) have described Tolstoy's novel is "the best ever".

If you go to the "Top Ten Books" web site (.. which contains Top-Ten lists from many people, both famous and non-so-famous, and on many genres) ..

.. and you navigate to the page labeled the "Top Ten Books of All Time" .. guess which title you will find listed there at the very top.

Tolstoy is the only author to post TWO books on the Best-of-the-Best list (.. at positions #1 and #3).

If you prefer to read your lists beginning at #10 and counting down to #1 .. see here.

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query » tolstoy

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Update - Nov 14, 2012 » I posted another entry on Tolstoy & Anna Karenina .. as I have researched and learned more about this fascinating character.See see » Tolstoy, Anna Karenina & Moral Judgement

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on August 20, 2012 8:20 AM.

The Long Way Around (When A Child's Actions Speak) was the previous entry in this blog.

"Let's walk home, dad." (Or Floating on Parenting Cloud #9) is the next entry in this blog.

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