Tolstoy set for himself the highest ideal that has ever been given to the world, and Tolstoy failed. He has had pointed at him fingers of scorn, and very unworthy fingers they were, but who has the right to judge Tolstoy for failure to live perfectly a life that has for two thousand years been an unattainable ideal to millions of earnest souls?
Einstein's space is no closer to reality than Van Gogh's sky . The glory of science is not in a truth more absolute than the truth of Bach or Tolstoy, but in the act of creation itself. The scientist's discoveries impose his own order on chaos, as the composer or painter imposes his; an order that always refers to limited aspects of reality, and is based on the observer's frame of reference, which differs from period to period as a Rembrant nude differs from a nude by Manet.Arthur Koestler
Proust was the greatest novelist of the twentieth century, just as Tolstoy was in the nineteenth.Marcel Proust
While seeking his true relation to the infinite, Tolstoy was also seeking his true relation to mankind.
In seeking what to do, Tolstoy was materially helped by a remarkable workingman, Basil Soutaieff, who was actually following as perfectly as he knew how, the example of Jesus. ...When asked, "What is truth?" he answered with conviction, "Truth is love in a common life." When his devotion to the unfortunate, the hungry, and the needy became known to Tolstoy, it had a profound influence upon his thought and eventually worked an entire transformation in his manner of living.
In recent centuries the only near spiritual relative of Tolstoy is the English poet, who in the fourteenth century, in the form of Piers Plowman, preached religious ideas so strikingly like those of Tolstoy. They are both individualists and they seek individual, not social, regeneration. ...Both point to the simple toiling God-fearing peasant as one expressing the ideal of the Christian life and service.
Tolstoy was occupied by a continuous pilgrimage to all fountains of knowledge, to all systems of religions, and to all manner of men in pursuit of Truth. He could not find it in the Church, nor in Science, nor in Art, nor among the rich, nor among the learned. But he did find it in the lives of the lowly and the suffering in the Doukhobors, in Soutaieff, in Bóndaref, and in Jesus the carpenter.
In many of his biographical writings Tolstoy makes clear that, in pursuit of a virtuous life, he had to struggle hard with his own nature, habits, and animal passions, and had to overcome early training and education; but in this drama he shows that, in attempting to be a Christian, he had to battle constantly, often bitterly, with his own family, with the Church, and with all the social, economic, and political conditions and institutions that surrounded him.
Thrift and foresight are among the chief teachings of all missionaries to the poor and the present day world has little sympathy for any parent whether a Harold Skimpole, a Mrs. Jellyby, a Jean Jacques Rousseau, or a Leo Tolstoy who for any cause whatsoever feels that he should give no thought for the morrow and that his children may live like the fowls of the air.
Although Tolstoy in his protest recognized the fact that he was bound up with all others, neither this nor the knowledge of his individual helplessness induced him to work with others in order to change any part of the infamous governmental system of Russia.
The poor did not hear such doctrines gladly and they were not at all disposed to follow the teaching of Tolstoy. ...such teaching was no more acceptable to the peasants than some of Tolstoy's other views were to his wife and to the Government. ...The more enlightened of their leaders looked upon him as a reactionary , standing in the way of the people's progress.
He [Tolstoy] saw and deplored the beginning of a class struggle which has ended as we now know in Bolshevism . Class hatred and strife appeared to Tolstoy as frightfully immoral and unchristian and he pled fervently with the rich to change their manner of living.
He [Tolstoy] did not believe in the political action advocated by the socialist party. He thought it futile to change the personnel of the Government, and it appeared to him that the making of new laws is an absurdity which could effect no change in conditions.
He [Tolstoy] could see little good in the clergy, while he utterly condemned the military, the rulers of the earth, the judges, the capitalists, the landlords, the merchants, the jailers, the functionaries. He assailed modern art and classed artists with scientists and ministers as the lackeys of a degenerate and parasitic class of wealthy men. Political economists he considered as retainers of the same class and their product as the throwing of dust in the eyes of those who seek for a way out of our unhappy social conditions.
He [Tolstoy] turned upon those who are produced by its [the modern world's] wrongs and condemned socialists, revolutionists, trade unionists, feminists, coöperators, and all reformers and menders of the present order, including charity organizationists and almoners. The most hopeless one of all in the present day world is "the good man," who lives in comfort, helps the needy, attends service, and is utterly impervious to any real religion.
Can no way be found by which every man may be assured of what, let us remember, Tolstoy always had, a wife and children, a good bed, a safe and warm sheltering roof, proper clothes, some leisure and peace for the improvement of the mind, a few books and pictures, a little music, and best of all, no fear for his old age and no dread of want for himself or his loved ones? ...Such a way was found in the communism of the early Christians.
One would have to look long and without success, I think, to find in the writings of Tolstoy, or even in the literature of modern socialism, anything approaching in passionate bitterness the words used by Isaiah, Jeremiah , and Micah to condemn the oppressors of the poor...
Einstein's space is no closer to reality than Van Gogh's sky. The glory of science is not in a truth more absolute than the truth of Bach or Tolstoy, but in the act of creation itself. The scientist's discoveries impose his own order on chaos, as the composer or painter imposes his; an order that always refers to limited aspects of reality, and is based on the observer's frame of reference, which differs from period to period as a Rembrandt nude differs from a nude by Manet .Arthur Koestler
Leo Tolstoy ... defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers.
When his devotion to the unfortunate, the hungry , and the needy became known to Tolstoy, it had a profound influence upon his thought and eventually worked an entire transformation in his manner of living.
The women in my life have all been librarians, English teachers, or booksellers. If they couldn't speak pidgin Tolstoy, articulate Henry James, or give me directions to Usher and Ox, it was no go. I have always longed for education, and pillow talk's the best.ray bradbury
The motto of his [Robinson Jeffers’s] work is “More! More!” but as Tolstoy says, “A wee bit omitted, overemphasized, or exaggerated in poetry, and there is no contagion”; and Frost, bearing him out, says magnificently: “A very little of anything goes a long way in a work of art.”Randall Jarrell
Among them exists an immense opportunity for the spread of views such as Tolstoy held, but instead of espousing their cause or seeking in any manner to organize the peasants for cooperative action, he [Tolstoy] invariably taught them submission, nonresistance to evil, loyalty to their masters, and the most extreme form of Christian humility and service.
He [Tolstoy] denounced science and all the products of the mechanical era, including "steam-engines, and telegraphs, photographs, telephones, sewing-machines, phonographs, electricity, telescopes, spectroscopes, microscopes, chloroform, Lister bandages, carbolic acid... All this progress is very striking indeed;" he writes, "but owing to some unlucky chance... this progress has not as yet ameliorated, but it has rather deteriorated the condition of the working man... [It is] these very... machines which have deprived him of his wages, and brought him to a state of entire slavery to the manufacturer." He denounced the motives of those who engineer this progress.