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Resurrection (1899)

by Leo Tolstoy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,047414,541 (3.82)1 / 67
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Tolstoy's last major work, the novel Resurrection, offers a probing critique of the social institutions and mores that resulted in so much injustice in the author's era. The protagonist, the well-born Dmitri Ivanovich Nekhlyudov, repents for contributing to the wrongful conviction and exile of an innocent chambermaid. In his quest to set things right, he finds out that virtually everything he has believed about the world around him has turned out to be untrue.

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 Club Read 2012: TonyH reads in 2012100 unread / 100tonikat, January 2013

» See also 67 mentions

English (26)  Catalan (6)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Greek (1)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (40)
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Inspired by the orthodox repression of the Dukhobors, one of the many christian sects opposing the catholic orthodoxy at the time of the Russian Empire, Tolstoy writes Resurrection intending to aid in the emigration of the dissidents. It's important to bear in mind that this novel comes after Tolstoy's own illumination episode, and as such it is filled with a new moral charge that presents itself as the main narrative line. You can clearly see from the first page an enraged Tolstoy writing in protest against a hypocrite society that strayed away from Christ's teachings.

This novel also aims to be an encyclopedic novel, encompassing every sphere in the russian society, akin to War and Peace. But here we see these spheres as disfunctional. Not a breath is spared to enumerate every issue he sees, and as we walk through every institution we see the author raise discussions about issues such as the pressing need for a land reform in favor of the rural proletariat, the tribunals and the prison system, where innocents are thrown because of administrative errors and political pression, and the hypocrisy of the religious sphere, which praises symbols before charity, which should be the pillar of catholicism.

But perhaps what's most interesting in the novel is a psychological aspect hidden between the lines. The protagonist undergoes a moral resurrection that mirrors Tolstoy's own, the same Tolstoy to whom it is amazing how everything is profoundly wrong, but nobody seems to notice or care. The main point here is an epiphany. It's only at the cost of his own ego that Nekhliudov is able to be reborn morally, but the fuse is only lit when he faces the last consequences of his errors. Before that happens, he finds approval in the society he finds himself in. All the people seem to be in a similar state of moral numbness, compacting with the systematic abuse because, to put it simple, this is just how reality is.

That said, what Tolstoy postulates is something like the noble savage, where it is society that corrupts the good man. Moral degradation comes when the protagonist "stops believing in himself and starts believing in others", in a long process of moral blunting. Elevation, on the other hand, comes in sudden awakenings, where their effect must be cultivated conscientiously through time. But the matter of fact is that society and the political establishment incentivizes the moral torpor in favor of prestige and the pleasures of flesh. As such, a system where "no one is guilty, and yet people were murdered, and murdered exactly by those people who are not guilty of such deaths" is created. Only when it gets personal it is possible for someone to grow aware of such processes.

Furthermore, it's important to remember that many of the problems discussed in the book are still issues today, such as the land reform. Systematic issues require drastic, revolutionary solutions, but such a revolution must start with a personal resurrection for it to have a clarity of purpose. ( )
  _takechiya | Nov 29, 2023 |
Here's what I wrote in 2008 about this read: "Very nice Tolstoy. Final major novel of his life (unfinished Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth is the absolute final), dealing with guilt and redeemption, society (church, state, the rich & privledged) poor handling of the lowly. Tolstoy is outraged." Not considered his finest by any means (of course it's not). ( )
  MGADMJK | Jul 23, 2023 |
“Always forgive, forgive everyone and infinite number of times, because there are no guiltless people who might be qualified to punish or correct.” ( )
  Eavans | Feb 17, 2023 |
It's as if Tolstoy had a window into my mind when he wrote this, for his views on bureaucracy, the prisons, the rich/corrupt and religion. For this book, Tolstoy was excommunicated, was estranged from his wife, and was shunned by many of his fellow wealthy-class. Bravo for you, Tolstoy, for waking up and using your platform to set People straight. Small price to pay. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
"Resurrection" arrived on my reading pile at just the right time. I had just been disappointed by Goncharov's "Malinovka Heights". Tolstoy's work restored my faith in the Russian literary tradition. "Resurrection" is an entertaining portrait of one man's journey to address the consequences of morally questionable behaviors earlier in his life. Along the way we get a detailed picture of the Russian penal system of the time and it's impact on the lives of the Russian people.

The novel lays out struggles with morally ambiguous personal and societal situations. Clearly, Tolstoy has an agenda. However, he presents it in an appealing and non-pedantic fashion. The novel is well-written and an enjoyable read. ( )
  colligan | Sep 27, 2022 |
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» Add other authors (182 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tolstoy, Leoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Asemissen, HermannTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopper, RikaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leclee, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leerink, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
P., E. v.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scammell,, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thal, WilhelmTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Traill, VeraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westendorp, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiener, LeoTranslatorsecondary 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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Nors žmonės, susibūrę keli šimtai tūkstančių į vieną nedidelę vietą, visaip stengėsi subiauroti žemę, kurioje jie grūdosi, nors visaip gringė akmenimis žemę, kad niekas neaugtų, nors visaip ravėjo kiekvieną prasikalusią žolelę, nors visaip dūmijo akmens anglim ir nafta, nors visaip genėjo medžius ir gujo lauk kiekvieną gyvulį bei paukštį,- pavasaris buvo pavasaris net ir mieste.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Tolstoy's last major work, the novel Resurrection, offers a probing critique of the social institutions and mores that resulted in so much injustice in the author's era. The protagonist, the well-born Dmitri Ivanovich Nekhlyudov, repents for contributing to the wrongful conviction and exile of an innocent chambermaid. In his quest to set things right, he finds out that virtually everything he has believed about the world around him has turned out to be untrue.

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