Reminiscences of Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Reminiscences of Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

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Overview

An excerpt from the beginning:

These fragmentary notes were written by me during the period when I lived in Oleise and Leo Nikolaevich at Gaspra in the Crimea. They cover the period of Tolstoy's serious illness and of his subsequent recovery. The notes were carelessly jotted down on scraps of paper, and I thought I had lost them, but recently I have found some of them. . . . I include here an unfinished, letter written by me under the influence of the " going away " of Leo Nikolaevich from Yasnaya Polyana, and of his death. I publish the letter just as it was written at the time and without correcting a single word; and I do not finish it, for somehow or other this is not possible.

--M. Gorky.


GORKY'S NOTES

I

The thought which beyond others most often and conspicuously gnaws at him is the thought of God. At moments it seems, indeed, not to be a thought of God. He speaks of it less than he would like, but thinks of it always. It can scarcely be said to be a sign of old age, a presentiment of death— no, I think that it comes from his exquisite human pride, and—a bit—from a sense of humiliation: for, being Leo Tolstoy, it is humiliating to have to submit one's will to a Streptococcus. If he were a scientist, he would certainly evolve the most ingenious hypotheses, make great discoveries.


II

He has wonderful hands—not beautiful, but knotted with swollen veins, and yet full of a singular expressiveness and the power of creativeness. Probably Leonardo da Vinci had hands like that. With such hands one can do anything. Sometimes, when talking, he will move his fingers, gradually close them into a fist, and then, suddenly opening them, utter a good, full-weight word. He is like a god, not a Sabaoth or Olympian, but the kind of Russian god who "sits on a maple throne under a golden lime tree," not very majestic, but perhaps more cunning than all the other gods.


III

He treats Sulerzhizky with the tenderness of a woman. For Tchekhov [Chekhov] his love is paternal—in this love is the feeling of the pride of a creator. Suler rouses in him just tenderness, a perpetual interest and rapture which never seems to weary the sorcerer. Perhaps, there is something a little ridiculous in this feeling, like the love of an old maid for a parrot, a pug-dog, or a tom-cat. Suler is a fascinatingly wild bird from some strange, unknown land. A hundred men like him could change the face of, as well as the soul of, a provincial town. Its face they would smash and its soul they would fill with a passion for riotous, brilliant, headstrong wildness. One loves Suler easily and gayly, and when I see how carelessly women accept him, they surprise and anger me. Yet under this carelessness is hidden, perhaps, caution. Suler is not reliable. What will he do tomorrow? He may throw a bomb or he may join a troupe of public-house minstrels. He has energy enough for three life-times, and fire of life—so much that he seems to sweat sparks like over-heated iron.


IV

Goldenweiser played Chopin, which called forth these remarks from Leo Nikolaevich [Tolstoy] : "A certain German princeling said: 'Where you want to have slaves, there you should have as much music as possible.' That's a true thought, a true observation-— music dulls the mind. Especially do the Catholics realize that; our priests, of course, will not reconcile themselves to Mendelssohn in church. A Tula priest assured me that Christ was not a Jew, though the son of the Jewish God and his mother a Jewess—he did admit that, but says he: ‘It’s impossible.’ I asked him: ‘But how then…..’ He shrugged his shoulders and said: ‘That’s just the mystery.’ “


V

I remember his saying to me: "An intellectual is like the old Galician prince Vladimirko who, as far back as the twelfth century boldly declared: 'There are no miracles in our time.' Six hundred years have passed and all the intellectuals hammer away at each other: 'There are no miracles, there are no miracles.' And all the people believe in miracles just as they did in the twelfth century."

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014858229
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 08/10/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 121 KB

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