Leo Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi

Leo
Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi
1828
1910

Russian Essayist, Realistic Fiction Novelist and Playwright, best known for novels "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina"

Author Quotes

Was it by reason that I attained the knowledge that I must love my neighbor and not throttle him? They told me so when I was a child, and I gladly believed it, because they told me what was already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason! Reason has discovered the struggle for existence and the law that I must throttle all those who hinder the satisfaction of my desires. That is the deduction reason makes. But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.

We love people not so much for the good they've done us, as for the good we've done them.

To claim that the supernatural and irrational form the basic characteristics of religion is much the same as noticing only the rotten apples and then claiming that the basic features of the fruit named apple are a flaccid bitterness and a harmful effect produced in the stomach.

True religion is that relationship, in accordance with reason and knowledge which man establishes with the infinite world around him, and which binds his life to that infinity and guides his actions.

Was it not youth, the feeling he experienced now, when, coming out to the edge of the wood again from the other side, he saw in the bright light of the sun?s slanting rays Varenka?s graceful figure, in a yellow dress and with her basket, walking with a light step past the trunk of an old birch, and when this impression from the sight of Varenka merged with the sight, which struck him with its beauty, of a yellowing field of oats bathed in the slanting light, and of an old wood far beyond the field, spotted with yellow, melting into the blue distance? He felt his heart wrung with joy. A feeling of tenderness came over him. He felt resolved. Varenka, who had just crouched down to pick a mushroom, stood up with a supple movement and looked over her shoulder.

We measure the earth, sun, stars, and ocean depths. We burrow into the depths of the earth for gold. We search for rivers and mountains on the moon. We discover new stars and know their magnitudes. We sound the depths of gorges and build clever machines. Each day brings a new invention. What don?t we think of! What can?t we do! But there is something else, the most important thing of all, that we are missing. We do not know exactly what it is. We are like a small child who knows he does not feel well but cannot explain why. We are uneasy, because we know a lot of superfluous facts; but we do not know what is really important?ourselves.

They say that that's a difficult task, that nothing's amusing that isn't spiteful, he began with a smile. But I'll try. Get me a subject. It all lies in the subject. If a subject's given me, it's easy to spin something round it. I often think that the celebrated talkers of the last century would have found it difficult to talk cleverly now. Everything clever is so stale?

To educate the peasantry, three things are needed: schools, schools and schools.

True science investigates and brings to human perception such truths and such knowledge as the people of a given time and society consider most important. Art transmits these truths from the region of perception.

Was it through reason that I arrived at the necessity of loving my neighbor and not throttling him?... Not reason. Reason discovered the struggle for existence and the law which demands that everyone who hinders the satisfaction of my desires should be throttled. That is the conclusion of reason. Reason could not discover love for the other, because it?s unreasonable.

We must live so as to not be afraid of death and did not want her.

They say: sufferings are misfortunes, said Pierre. 'But if at once this minute, I was asked, would I remain what I was before I was taken prisoner, or go through it all again, I should say, for God's sake let me rather be a prisoner and errant horseflesh again. We imagine that as soon as we are torn out of our habitual path all is over, but it is only the beginning of something new and good. As long as there is life, there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal before us.

To every administrator, in peaceful, unstormy times, it seems that the entire population entrusted to him moves only by his efforts, and in this consciousness of his necessity every administrator finds the chief rewards for his labors and efforts. It is understandable that, as long as the historical sea is calm, it must seem to the ruler-administrator in his frail little bark, resting his pole against the ship of the people and moving along with it, that his efforts are moving the ship. But once a storm arises, the sea churns up, and the ship begins to move by itself, and then the delusion is no longer possible. The ship follows its own enormous, independent course, the pole does not reach the moving ship, and the ruler suddenly, from his position of power, from being a source of strength, becomes an insignificant, useless, and feeble human being.

Unfortunately not only were the rulers, who were considered supernatural beings, benefited by having the peoples in subjection, but as a result of the belief in, and during the rule of, these pseudodivine beings, ever larger and larger circles of people grouped and established themselves around them, and under an appearance of governing took advantage of the people. And when the old deception of a supernatural and God-appointed authority had dwindled away these men were only concerned to devise a new one which like its predecessor should make it possible to hold the people in bondage to a limited number of rulers.

Was serene. Her Moscow troubles had become a memory to her.

We must not only cease our present desire for the growth of the state, but we must desire its decrease, its weakening.

The workmen's revolution, with the terrors of destruction and murder, not only threatens us, but we have already been living upon its verge during the last thirty years, and it is only by various cunning devices that we have been postponing the crisis... The hatred and contempt of the oppressed people are increasing, and the physical and moral strength of the richer classes are decreasing: the deceit which supports all this is wearing out, and the rich classes have nothing wherewith to comfort themselves.

There is an Eastern fable, told long ago, of a traveler overtaken on a plain by an enraged beast. Escaping from the beast he gets into a dry well, but sees at the bottom of the well a dragon that has opened its jaws to swallow him. And the unfortunate man, not daring to climb out lest he should be destroyed by the enraged beast, and not daring to leap to the bottom of the well lest he should be eaten by the dragon, seizes s twig growing in a crack in the well and clings to it. His hands are growing weaker and he feels he will soon have to resign himself to the destruction that awaits him above or below, but still he clings on. Then he sees that two mice, a black one and a white one, go regularly round and round the stem of the twig to which he is clinging and gnaw at it. And soon the twig itself will snap and he will fall into the dragon's jaws. The traveler sees this and knows that he will inevitably perish; but while still hanging he looks around, sees some drops of honey on the leaves of the twig, reaches them with his tongue and licks them. So I too clung to the twig of life, knowing that the dragon of death was inevitably awaiting me, ready to tear me to pieces; and I could not understand why I had fallen into such torment. I tried to lick the honey which formerly consoled me, but the honey no longer gave me pleasure, and the white and black mice of day and night gnawed at the branch by which I hung. I saw the dragon clearly and the honey no longer tasted sweet. I only saw the unescapable dragon and mice, and I could not tear my gaze from them. And this is not a fable but the real unanswerable truth intelligible to all. The deception of the joys of life which formerly allayed my terror of the dragon now no longer deceived me. No matter how often I may be told, You cannot understand the meaning of life so do not think about it, but live, I can no longer do it: I have already done it too long. I cannot now help seeing day and night going round and bringing me to death. That is all I see, for that alone is true. All else is false. The two drops of honey which diverted my eyes from the cruel truth longer than the rest: my love of family, and of writing -- art as I called it -- were no longer sweet to me. Family... said I to myself. But my family -- wife and children -- are also human. They are placed just as I am: they must either live in a lie or see the terrible truth. Why should they live? Why should I love them, guard them, bring them up, or watch them? That they may come to the despair that I feel, or else be stupid? Loving them, I cannot hide the truth from them: each step in knowledge leads them to the truth. And the truth is death.

There was within him a deep unexpressed conviction that all would be well, but that one must not trust to this and still less speak about it, but must only attend to one's own work. And he did his work, giving his whole strength to the task.

The younger sister was piqued, and in turn disparaged the life of a tradesman, and stood up for that of a peasant. I would not change my way of life for yours, said she. We may live roughly, but at least we are free from anxiety. You live in better style than we do, but though you often earn more than you need, you are very likely to lose all you have. You know the proverb, ?Loss and gain are brothers twain.? It often happens that people who are wealthy one day are begging their bread the next. Our way is safer. Though a peasant?s life is not a fat one, it is a long one. We shall never grow rich, but we shall always have enough to eat. The elder sister said sneeringly: Enough? Yes, if you like to share with the pigs and the calves! What do you know of elegance or manners! However much your good man may slave, you will die as you are living-on a dung heap-and your children the same. Well, what of that? replied the younger. Of course our work is rough and coarse. But, on the other hand, it is sure; and we need not bow to anyone. But you, in your towns, are surrounded by temptations; today all may be right, but tomorrow the Evil One may tempt your husband with cards, wine, or women, and all will go to ruin. Don?t such things happen often enough?

There is infinite movement within one moment of rest.

There will be today, there will be tomorrow, there will be always, and there was yesterday, and there was the day before.

Then he thought himself unhappy, but happiness was all in the future; now he felt that the best happiness was already in the past.

There is no condition of human beings get used to, especially around the lives of everyone sees the same conditions.

Therefore, all these causes-billions of causes-coincided so as to bring about what happened. And consequently none of them was the exclusive cause of the event, but the event had to take place simply because it had to take place.

Author Picture
First Name
Leo
Last Name
Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi
Birth Date
1828
Death Date
1910
Bio

Russian Essayist, Realistic Fiction Novelist and Playwright, best known for novels "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina"