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Resurrection (1/2) by Leo Tolstoi
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Resurrection (1/2)

by Leo Tolstoi

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I had started a Tolstoi novel wh. one never hears of called Resurrection wh. I think is going to be at least as good (tho' not so long) as War and Peace. Don't you think the following really excellent. The hero is surprised to find that an old flame of his who has since become a prostitute is not in the least ashamed of her profession. The author continues 'People who are put in a condition, form such a view of life in general that their position appears to them good and respectable. In order to support such a view, they instinctively cling to that circle in which it is accepted. Maslova had formed such a conception. it consisted in the view that the chief good of all men without exception lay in sexual intercourse. For ten years she had seen that all men needed her: she neither saw nor noticed those men who did not. She valued this conception of life more than anything in the world, because if she changed it she wd. lose the importance it gave her.'

Needless to say, Tolstoi goes on to point out that the trait is not peculiar to prostitutes. But doesn't it throw a flood of light on the conversation of nearly everyone? I never understood before the passion with wh. a man like Weldon maintains universal selfishness or a fox hunter defends hunting. Even your foot-drill fan is now explicable. I seem to get more passages of this sort of penetration in Tolstoi than in any other author - certainly any other novelist.
- from an 11 August 1940 letter to his brother, in The collected letters of C.S. Lewis, volume II ( )
  C.S._Lewis | Mar 29, 2009 |
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