Synopses & Reviews
Much of what was central to Tolstoy seems embarrassing to Western and Soviet critics, points out Richard Gustafson in his absorbing argument for the predominance of Tolstoy's religious viewpoint in all his writings. Received opinion says that there are two Tolstoys, the pre-conversion artist and the post-conversion religious thinker and prophet, but Professor Gustafson argues convincingly that the man is not two, but one.
Originally published in 1986.
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"He was a strange old coot, the kind of grandfather who would give you a piece of sugar candy one minute, box your ears the next. No one ever called Leo Tolstoy a saint, at least no one in his or her right mind, but the man strove for sainthood and maybe that is what his life was all about. Richard Gustafson rightly emphasizes the religious motivation in Tolstoy's writings. The man was obsessed by God, communed with him daily, and berated himself for his failure to live as he believed God commanded. He was unhappy all his life, but what a life it was." Reviewed by Robert Jackson, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"Richard Gustafson has written what will undoubtedly prove to be one of the major studies of Tolstoy produced in his generation . . . an especially thoughtful book, full of ideas, insights, and perceptions that are very much Gustafson's own."--Hugh McLean, The Russian Review