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Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy

Resurrection (1899)

by Leo Tolstoy

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2,067203,210 (3.78)1 / 55



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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I haven't read any Tolstoy for years, and I had very high expectations for this novel. What a disappointment. There's no subtlety, this book just clobbers you on the head, with plot, characters, themes, everything. While a lot of the criticism of the criminal justice system is interesting and, sadly, timeless, I found the story to fail as a novel. ( )
  breic | Jul 13, 2018 |
In his youth, Prince Dmitri Nekhlyudov fell in love with Katusha Maslova, an orphan girl raised by his aunts. Unbeknownst to him, their brief affair resulted in pregnancy and Katusha was turned out of the house and left to find her way in the world. Many years later, Dmitri finds himself on a jury where Katusha is one of three accused of a crime. He learns Katusha turned to prostitution to survive. He is so worried their relationship will be discovered that he fails to advocate for her during jury deliberations, and she is sentenced to penal servitude in Siberia.

This experience has a strong effect on Dmitri. He feels at fault both for Katusha’s life circumstances and the sentence. He is also disillusioned by the court system, and shocked at the plight of the lower classes. Dmitri intercedes on Katusha’s behalf, working on legal appeals to reduce her sentence. He also believes he should marry her to improve her lifestyle (never mind whether Katusha wants this …). He puts his affairs in order and prepares to accompany Katusha to Siberia, while also advocating for other prisoners who have been unjustly convicted.

Published in 1899, Resurrection was Leo Tolstoy’s last novel, and through Dmitri he describes a dramatic shift in his own views on social issues of the day. As a treatise, it was probably quite effective. As a novel, I found it lacking in both plot and pacing. Dmitri saw himself as noble, but was actually weak and cowardly. Katusha is the stronger person, and I wish she had figured even more prominently in the novel. The ending is downright preachy, as Dmitri has a kind of “born again” experience and finds new purpose in life. Meh. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Mar 29, 2018 |
This novel isn't as well known as Anna Karenina or War and Peace, but it was a pleasure to read. I've read quite a bit about Tolstoy and know that Resurrection took him ten year to write, and, by the conclusion, he was ready for it to be over so he could move on to something else. Knowing about his desire to move on, may have flavored my thoughts about the book's ending being rushed and quickly concluded. The story involves a lower-classed woman who is sexually taken advantage of by an estate owner, like Tolstoy admitted to doing later in his life. Is this part of that old bit about writing what you know? Whatever, it was some very nice writing and touched on many of Tolstoy's favorite themes. ( )
1 vote jphamilton | Jul 18, 2016 |
It is no War and Peace or Anna Karenin, I cared less about the characters and therefore became less involved in the story. Of course the writing is good, but it feels like Tolstoy has some points to make and has worked out a story to fit round them rather than vice versa. It's a bit of a religious tract in places, a bit of a morality tale, and a bit of a social comment on the ineffectiveness of the legal system and prisons. I'm not sure it was the ideal holiday read. ( )
2 vote AlisonSakai | Jul 19, 2015 |
Tolstoy takes his readers on a journey through a Russia that is sinking under the weight of a conservative administration led by Tsar Alexander III in the last decade of the 19th century. We view it through the eyes of Prince Nekhlyudov, (but many believe it is Tolstoy himself). It is virtually a police state where the vast majority are peasants barely released from serfdom controlled by a system that can lock up, deport or murder anybody that agitates against it. The landowning elite have authority that seems self perpetuating and live a life that can completely disregard those that are under their power. Prince Nekhlyudov is one of those landowners who having served in the army has become corrupted because as Tolstoy says Military service always corrupts a man, placing him in conditions of complete idleness . But Nekhlyudov has a conscience and it is beginning to stir, he is concerned about his affair with a woman married to one of his friends in society and is thinking of extricating himself so that he can marry the young Princess Korchagina. He gets a summons to do jury service and to his horror recognises one of the accused as a servant of his family, who he had seduced when on leave from the army. Katusha Maslova is on trial for the suspected poisoning of a client and we learn that since her dismissal from service with Nekhlyudov's family she has become a prostitute. Nekhlyudov begins to see that Katusha's downfall is his responsibility and when her conviction is a result of a mal administration that he could have stopped he feels doubly responsible and vows to put things right.

Nekhlyudov's position in society and his family's influence gains him entrance to the upper echelons of the government and judiciary that serves the Tsarist regime. he becomes frustrated and then angry with the self serving people with whom he meets in their official capacity; he follows due process but even with the best lawyers he is unable to squash the conviction and sentence of hard labour in Siberia, he therefore plans to follow Katusha to Siberia and marry her, if necessary, in an effort to offer her his protection. When he finally gains access to the prison he finds that Katusha is no longer the innocent girl he seduced and she sees him initially as a nuisance then a meal ticket as he struggles to gain her trust. Part one of the novel takes us through the workings of the judiciary system and Tolstoy's acute observations pins the corruption and mal practice squarely on the shoulders of those who serve within it. We witness the lifestyle of the rich as Nekhlyudov becomes increasingly uncomfortable in their presence, because his eyes are opened by their complacency and misuse of power. When he gains entry to the prisons themselves we witness the appalling conditions under which the prisoners are held, but human spirit manages to survive. We see the same thing when Nekhlyudov visits his estates and attempts to free the peasants by giving them rights to the land. They are immured in the system and they resent any change, rather like some of the prisoners.

In this first half of the book; Tolstoy's writing and observations are full of interest and he bring the scenes he depicts to life, while at the same time doing a hatchet job on the church, on evangelism, on the legal system, corruption in high places and the landowning elite. However I find the character and actions of Nekhlyudov more problematic, I am not entirely convinced by his conversion to the lot of the poor and underprivileged and he comes across more of a sponge or even a cypher, soaking up everything around him, I feel his isolation and increasing discomfort, but am surprised at his resolution which seems a little out of character. This changes in the second and third parts of the novel which portrays the prisoners enforced journey to Siberia. The novel seems to breathe once the prisoners are led out of their fetid prison with Nekhyludov following as best he can; it is a sort of exodus and as horrific as the journey is and the conditions of the halting stations are, on the three thousand mile journey, there is less pessimism and more time for Nekhyludov to come to terms with his guilt and for Tolstoy to convince his readers. The relationship with Katusha deepens and broadens and the concentration on the plight of the political and criminal prisoners gives the novel a storyline and coherence that contrasts with the machinations of the first part which takes place in the claustrophobic city. This is an epic novel and it needs the vastness of the Russia landscape in which to work it's magic.

Tolstoy's [Resurrection] is a ringing indictment of Alexander III's Russia. It is also the story of one man's and probably one woman's redemption from a life led for purely selfish reasons. Along the way it eschews the benefits of socialism. but is profoundly pessimistic that such a system could work because human nature would always work against it. Hope of salvation is for individuals to come to understand in their own terms the words of Christ at the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel according to St Mathew. The journey for Nekhyludov ends with him finding peace and liberation:

"And it happened to Nekhlyudov as it often happens to people living a spiritual life. The thought that at first had appeared so strange so paradoxical, laughable even, ever more frequently finding confirmation in life, suddenly appeared to him as the simplest incontrovertible truth......................The answer that he had been unable to find was the same that Christ gave to Peter: to forgive everyone always, forgive an endless number of times, because there was no man living who was guiltless and therefore able to punish or reform."

Some readers of [Resurrection] have found it too preachy, but I think this is missing the point. Tolstoy is concerned with setting out the wrongs of his world and the role that people play in it, but his message is that it is up to the individual to find their own redemption, however they can. Resurrection is a word that immediately evokes a religious connotation and it is no accident that Tolstoy should choose it as a title for his novel, however it is only in the final few pages that this is made explicit.

[Resurrection] is not a quick read but then it is nowhere near the length of [War and Peace]. The writing is superb throughout and if the first part was a little slow to get going by the time the prisoners started their trek to Siberia and Tolstoy embarked on one of his grand set pieces then I was hooked. This is a classic and I am sure it would benefit from a re-read, but as I found it uneven this time round, a four star read. ( )
4 vote baswood | Aug 22, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (191 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leo Tolstoyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Asemissen, HermannTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopper, RikaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leclee, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leclée, Jacobsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
P., E. v.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Traill, VeraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Then came Peter, and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto three, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.- Matt. 18:21-2.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? - Matt. 7:3
He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. - John 8:7
The disciple is not above his master: but every one when he is perfected shall be as his master. - Luke 6:40.
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Though hundreds of thousands had done their very best to disfigure the small piece of land on which they were crowded together: paving the ground with stones, scraping away every vestige of vegetation, cutting down the trees, turning away birds and beasts, filling the air with the smoke of naptha and coal - still spring was spring, even in the town.
Es inútil que millares y millares de personas...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140441840, Paperback)

Serving on a jury at the trial of a prostitute arrested for murder, Prince Nekhlyudov is horrified to discover that the accused is a woman he had once loved, seduced and then abandoned when she was a young servant girl. Racked with guilt at realizing he was the cause of her ruin, he determines to appeal for her release or give up his own way of life and follow her. Conceived on an epic scale, "Resurrection" portrays a vast panorama of Russian life, taking us from the underworld of prison cells and warders to the palaces of countesses. It is also an angry denunciation of government, the upper classes, the judicial system and the Church, and a highly personal statement of Tolstoy's belief in human redemption.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:48 -0400)

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Resurrection, the last of Tolstoy's major novels, tells the story of a nobleman's attempt to redeem himself for the suffering his yourthful philandering caused a peasant girl. Tolstoy's vision of redemption achieved through loving forgiveness, and his condemnation of violence dominate the novel. An intimate, psychological tale of guilt, anger, and forgiveness, Resurrection is at the same time a panoramic description of social life in Russia at the end of the nineteenth century, reflecting Tolstoy's outrage at the social injustices of the world in which he lived.… (more)

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