Did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy meet each other? - Russia Beyond
I love to read about Tolstoy's relationships with his famous André Gide in an essay on Dostoevsky wrote that Tolstoy obscured the greatness. (let us say) Dostoevsky's writings on the Eastern question and the Jews. Tolstoy). "It so happens," writes Mirsky, "that Tolstoy's conversion, about , to the. Lev Nikolayevitch Tolstoy [Ле́в Никола́евич Толсто́й, usually rendered Leo Tolstoy, .. and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. . All such questions as, for instance, of the cause of failure of crops, of the George Steiner in Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism () .
How do we define brotherhood? Who are our brothers or sisters? Are our fellow citizens our moral brothers and sisters? Are we supposed to respect and show them civility? What are the boundaries of our community? Should we aspire toward national or human brotherhoods? What kind of moral responsibility do we have toward someone who we loosely understand as a human brother? Are there different layers of moral responsibility depending on different definitions of community? Finally, depending on where we place the boundaries of community as such, are we absolved from moral responsibility toward those who fall outside the immediate communities where we see ourselves as members?
The far-reaching implications of the prompt allowed me to propose a course that could be deeply rooted in the Russian tradition, with significant explorations of ethical philosophy, and a contemporary component that could help make the Russian works more immediately relevant to students. In Russian culture as reflected in the works of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, community is often understood in capacious and almost universalist terms — both authors stress the importance of communal love, or agape, and wide-ranging moral responsibility.
At its most basic level, the course presents iterations of community that appear in works by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. When reading these works, we will pay particular attention to the significant moral responsibility that Tolstoy and Dostoevsky believe community members should hold toward one another and the challenges that come with upholding these responsibilities. Rather than being considered in isolation, texts by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky will be paired with a series of philosophical writings selected to help expand and contextualize views of community.
I must go, for if I do not, I will keep on talking and will never stop…. One of the worrisome tendencies of contemporary society is its impulse to rank. Who is Number One? Why does everything have to be a race? Why does everything have to be competitive? This implies that there is a winner and a loser.
Which is the greater food, blueberries or strawberries? Which is better, the sky or the grass, night or day? Tolstoy, through his character, Levin, in Anna Kareninaasked what the meaning of life is. Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy asserted that the essence of life cannot be found by relying on the intellect alone.
Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy understood that being true to the authentic rhythms of life means respecting the non-linear nature of life. Each of the two offers profound insights about psychology. Tolstoy emphasizes the ways in which people relate to one another in a societal context. Dostoevsky digs deeply into the individual human psyche. Tolstoy paints a world in which extreme things happen to ordinary people. Dostoevsky shows us the extremes of which people are capable. Each of the two writers describes crises in faith.
Each describes the journey to a life of spiritual values. Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy write in a way that conveys the energy of life. Tolstoy shows a love of life of this world — the smell of the earth, the beauty of a flower. He speaks about living a life of authenticity. Both Dostoevsky and Tolstoy make me think about what is important in life. Both urge the reader to appreciate those things that money or competition cannot bestow — love, and life itself… …So who is the greater writer, Dostoevsky or Tolstoy?
I have long ago given up on the idea of objective appraisal of literature: All sorts of ghosts crawl into the pages, a prehistory of tastes and experiences and prejudices and fears. So if I say Dostoevsky is a greater writer than Tolstoy, I only mean he has been greater to me. My first encounter with Russian literature was as random as can be expected for a twelve-year-old girl growing up in suburban Costa Rica.
Both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky emerged like potatoes out of a giant plastic bag containing several books of ranging worth.
I was lucky enough to be, at the time, very young, very curious and seriously uninformed. Crime and Punishment followed shortly after, with the same scandalous lack of veneration. I loved them both: Tolstoy, for the story he told, and Dostoevsky, for the thoughts he provoked.
Many years and many books later, the two authors continue to inhabit different places in my mind and in my memory. Tolstoy conjures up images of endless steppes and elegant Petersburg homes, where great and complex characters go about the business of living.
His books are showcases of literary craftsmanship, epic tales told with impeccable skill. I experience his books as a ceaseless battle of demons that never rest — not even as you turn the page, as you end a chapter, as you finish the novel and read it again. A Dostoevsky novel sitting on a shelf is a bowl of anxiety and confusion, a bundle of frustrations marked by a desperate need for redemption. His protagonists are shown in extreme situations, where not only their personality but their very nature is put to the test.
Why Tolstoy and Dostoevsky Matter Now More Than Ever | Circe Institute
What I find mesmerizing in Dostoevsky is not just the details of the story, the particular twists and turns of the lives of Rodion Raskolnikov or Dmitri Karamazov; it is the mere possibility of their existence.
It is, in the end, the mind-bending notion that we could be just like them — that any of us, any ordinary, simple human being, carries around the highest plane and the lowest point of moral capabilities. If that is not writing of the ultimate importance, I do not know what is. Chris Huntingtonauthor of the novel Mike Tyson Slept Here Reading Tolstoy transports me to another world; reading Dostoevsky makes me feel alive in this one.
Why Tolstoy and Dostoevsky Matter Now More Than Ever
So many beautiful horses! Women like Kitty and Anna Karenina! It feels like my life again. On the other hand, many times someone will frustrate me at work, and I hear these words from The Brothers Karamazov thundering in my head: As I lead my every day life so unlike ice-skating in Moscow or cutting grain on my estatesjust imagining that I resemble beautiful Levin is to invite self-ridicule. I like him more than he would like me. We demonstrate things differently. I can be innocent and guilty both.
Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who's Greater - The Millions
That, to me, is life. Borges, I believe, said there was something adolescent about a love of Dostoevsky — that maturity demanded other writers. All I know is, when I first read Crime and Punishment, that book represented a lot of work for me.
Accordingly, I have read many of the classics of the Western canon. Furthermore, these Russians matter more than ever today.
Both foresaw a creeping utilitarian ethic that would warp the social life of Russia and eventually dominate the conceptual framework of Western citizens.
Dostoevsky and Tolstoy were both born in Russia, seven years apart. His pace is frantic with anxiety and his scenes resemble the best of theatre-drama — a barely domesticated violence of words.
Raskolnikov walks these streets seeking to cleanse his mind of murderous inclinations. Yet in the streets he witnesses children begging, rumors of suicide, and gutter-drunks; these visions spread more disease through the tender tissue of his soul.
Overwhelmed by the street, Raskolnikov dives deeper into murder-planning. A Writer in His Time,