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The private diary of Leo Tolstóy, 1853-1857…

The private diary of Leo Tolstóy, 1853-1857 (edition 1927)

by Leo Tolstoy, Aylmer Maude (Preface), Louise Maude (Translator)

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Title:The private diary of Leo Tolstóy, 1853-1857
Authors:Leo Tolstoy
Other authors:Aylmer Maude (Preface), Louise Maude (Translator)
Info:William Heinemann, London 1927, xxiv + 256, Edited by Aylmer Maude, trans. by Louise and Aylmer Maude
Collections:Your library
Tags:19th Century, Russia, Tolstoy, diary

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The private diary of Leo Tolstóy, 1853-1857 by Leo Tolstoy

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It is to be remembered that the diary was not written for publication!
There are almost daily entries often in ‘Stichworten’ (short entries) in complete frankness harsh judgements of himself and others, likes and dislikes, people he met - mostly names I never heard of -, his health, how he spends his day: his gambling losses, drinking and debauchery, laziness, general dissatisfaction with his aimless and disorderly life, often repetitive, altogether of little interest to me.

Some more interesting entries:
July 8th 1853 (15): „It is easier and simpler to imagine the eternal existence of the universe … than to imagine the existence of a creator. … I do not understand the necessity of God’s existence, but I believe in Him.“ Two years later (entry March 2-5, 1855) he writes: „Yesterday a conversation about Divinity and Faith suggested to me a great, a stupendous idea …: the founding of a new religion corresponding to the present development of mankind … not promising future bliss but giving bliss on earth.“

Oct. 31st (34) about Pushkin: „ … I have to admit that Pushkin’s prose is already old-fashioned, not in its language but in the manner of its exposition.“ - [Must read some more of P.]

Nov. 2,3 (37) on judgement of people and himself: „I long deceived myself imagining I had friends who understood me. Nonsense! I have not yet met a single man who was morally as good as I, …“; but on the 6th Nov. he reproaches himself: „I have deteriorated morally.“ and a day later: „This morning I did so nasty a thing that it compelled me to come to myself.“
July 4th 1854: „My chief defects are (1) Instability (i.e. indecision, inconsistency), (2) an unpleasant, difficult character, vanity, (3) idleness.“ To this he adds on the 5th „lack of patience towards myself and others“, on the 7th: „lack of modesty“, on the 24th „an inclination to show my superiority.“
As a result of playing cards for 2 days and nights he has to sell the large wooden house at Yásnaya Polyána he was born in. (Jan. 28th 1855) - [It is disassembled and rebuilt somewhere else.]

In 1853 Tolstoy was serving as a cadet in the artillery in the Caucasus.
In Nov. 1845 he applied to be sent to the Crimea and served in Sevastopol and more comfortably in Simferópol and later commanded a mountain platoon further away. In Jan. 1857 he left for an extended visit to western Europe returning in August. We get lists of Russian people he meets but hardly any impressions about places he visits. The Preface by Aylmer Maude is more informative.

Despite his repeated self-accusations of being lazy he publishes a number of stories during his time in the army and becomes well recognised by the end of 1855.

Not for everybody this book. (VI-20)
  MeisterPfriem | Jun 30, 2020 |
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