Tag Archives: leo tolstoy

LEO TOLSTOY-Among the World’s Greatest Writers … by Janina Gomes

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Leo Tolstoy

It is difficult to write about one of the greatest writers that ever existed and to trace the influence of his life experiences on his writings, but we can only try to do justice to him and his seminal novels ‘War and Peace’ and ‘Anna Karenina’ by a short biography of his life.

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was born to an aristocratic Russian family. His mother died when he was two years old and his father when he was nine years old.  He and his siblings were raised by his relatives.  His studies at Kazan University, where he was studying law and oriental languages, which he left in the middle, seemed to invite the disdain of his teachers who described him as both unable and unwilling to learn.

He returned to his family estate at Yasnaya Polyana, and spent his life visiting Moscow, Tula and St. Petersburg leading a lax and luxurious life. After incurring heavy gambling debts, he went with his older brother and joined the Russian Army in 1851. He served as a young artillery officer during the Crimean War and was in Sevastopol during the 11 month long siege of Sevastopol in 1854-55. During the war he was recognized for his courage and promoted to Lieutenant. But he was appalled by the number of deaths there were in warfare and after the Crimean War, he left the Army. His experience in the Army and two tours to Europe in 1857 and 1860-61 changed him from a dissolute and privileged society author to a non-violent and spiritual anarchist. During his 1857 visit to Paris, he witnessed a public execution, a trauma that marked him for life.

Two great French writers and intellectuals who influenced him and his work were Victor Hugo and Joseph Proudhon. With the latter his discussions also focused on education. These interactions so fired him with enthusiasm that he returned to his family estate to set up 13 schools for the children of Russian peasants who had just been emancipated from serfdom in 1861.

Tolstoy’s major novels’ War and Peace’ and ‘Anna Karenina’ and his novellas such as ‘Hadji Murad’ and the ‘Death of ‘Ivan Ilyich’ all consistently attempted to convey realistically the Russian society in which he lived. ‘The Cossacks’ (1863) describes the Cossack life and people. ‘Anna Karenina’( 1877) tells parallel stories of an adulterous woman trapped in the conventions  and falsities of society and a  philosophical landowner( much like Tolstoy) who worked alongside the peasants in the fields and sought to reform their lives. Tolstoy not only drew on his life experiences but also created characters in his own image such as, Pierre Bezukhov and Prince Andrei in ‘War and Peace’ and Levin in ‘Anna Karenina’.

‘War and Peace’ is remarkable for its dramatic breadth and unity, which includes 580 characters, many of them historical figures and some fictional ones. The story encompasses a vast canvas and moves from family life to the headquarters of Napolean, and from the court of Alexander I of Russia to the battlefields of Austerlitz and Borodino. Its grandeur and scope make it one of the greatest novels ever written.

  In the 1870’s Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis and a profound spiritual awakening as outlined in his non-fictional work ‘The Confession’ (1882). His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus centering on his Sermon on the Mount’ caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. His ideas on non-violent resistance expressed in such works as ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’ had a pivotal influence on two great leaders of the 20th century- Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King .Jr.

His contemporaries, among whom we can count, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustav Flaubert and Anton Chekov paid him lofty tributes. And in the words of British poet and critic, Mathew Arnold: “A novel by Tolstoy is not a work of art but a piece of life”.

Janina Gomes 

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our Publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai; Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida; India. Shoolini University, Yogananda Knowledge Center, Himachal Pradesh and Azim Premzi University, Bangalore).  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K; Herrick District Library, Holland and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, USA).

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE BOOK TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOK CORNER VIDEO: THE THREE QUESTIONS by Leo Tolstoy

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

BOOK CORNER: SHORT STORY–THE THREE QUESTIONS by Leo Tolstoy

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

THE THREE QUESTIONS

By Leo Tolstoy

    It once occurred to a certain king that if he only knew the right time to begin any task. If he knew, who were the right people to listen to and whom to avoid. And above all, if he always knew, what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake.

    With this thought in mind. He decided to announce in his kingdom. That he would give a handsome reward to anyone who could teach him. The right time for every action, and who are the most essential people and how he might know what was the most important thing to do.

    Many learned men came to the king but they all answered his questions differently.

    In reply to the first question some said that to know the right time for every action, one must draw up in advance a table of days, months and years and must strictly adhere to it. Only thus said they, could everything be done at a proper time. Others declared that it was impossible to decide beforehand the right time for every action. And, one should always attend to all that is going on, and then do what is most needful. Others said. However attentive the king might be to what is going on. It is impossible for one man to decide correctly the right time for every action. And that he should have a council of wise men who would help him fix the proper time for everything.

    But then again others said there were some things which could not wait to be laid before a council, and about which one needed to decide at once to undertake them or not. But in order to decide that one must know beforehand what was going to happen. It is only magicians who know that and therefore in order to know the right time for every action one must consult magicians.

    Equally, there were various other answers to the second question. Some said. The people, king needed the most were his councilors, priests and the doctors. While some said warriors were the most essential.

    Regarding the third question, as to what was the most important occupation. Some replied that the most important thing in the world was science. Others said it was skill in warfare and others said it was religious worship.

    Since all the answers were different. The king agreed with none of them and gave reward to none. But still determined to find the right answers to his question he decided to consult a hermit widely renowned for his wisdom.

    The hermit lived in a forest. Where, he received only common people and no VIPs. So, to match the hermit’s discipline. The king too, put on simple clothes and before reaching the hermit’s cell he even dismounted from his horse. Leaving his bodyguard behind. He was now alone.

    When the king approached the hermit. He was digging the ground in front of his hut. Seeing the king he greeted him but kept digging. The hermit appeared frail and weak. Each time he struck his spade on the ground and turned little earth, he breathed heavily.

    The king went up to him and said. ‘I have come to you wise man, to ask you to answer, three of my questions. One, how can I learn to do the right thing at the right time? Two, who are the people I need the most, and to whom, should I pay more attention than the rest? Three, what affairs are most important and need my attention on priority?’

    The hermit listened to the king, but answered nothing. In fact he just spat on his hand and recommenced digging.

    “You are tired,” said the king, “so let me take the spade and work awhile for you.”

    “Thanks!” said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the king, he sat down, on the ground.

    When the king had finished digging two beds, he stopped and repeated his questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out his hand for the spade, and said:

    “Now you rest awhile – and let me work a bit.”

    But the king did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One hour passed, and then another. The sun began to sink behind the trees, and the king at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said:

    “I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me so. I will return home.”

    “Here comes someone running,” said the hermit. “Let us see who it is.”

    The king turned round and saw a bearded man come running out of the forest. The man had pressed his stomach with his hands and was bleeding profusely. And as he approached the king he fainted and fell on the ground and began moaning feebly. The king and the hermit unfastened the man’s clothing.

    There was a large wound in his stomach. The king washed it, as best as he could and even bandaged it, with his handkerchief and a towel of the hermit. But the blood didn’t stop oozing. So, the king removed, the warm blood soaked bandage several times. And he washed and re-bandaged the wound.

    Finally the bleeding stopped. With that the man revived and asked for something to drink. The king brought fresh water and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So, the king, with the hermit’s help, carried the wounded man into the hut and laid him on the bed. While lying on the bed, the man closed his eyes and was quiet. But the king was extremely tired on account of the tedious day. So, he crouched down on the threshold, and fell asleep–and so soundly that he slept all throughout the short summer night.

    When he woke up in the morning. It was long before he could remember where he was, or who was the strange bearded man lying on the bed and gazing intently at him with glistening eyes.

    “Forgive me!” said the bearded man in a weak voice, when he saw, that the king was awake and was looking at him.

    “I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,” said the king.

    “You do not know me, but I know you. I am an enemy of yours who had sworn to take revenge of you, because you had executed my brother and seized my property. I knew you had gone alone to meet the hermit, and I had resolved to kill you on your way back.

     But the day passed, and you did not return. So, I came out of my ambush to look for you. But ill luck struck me. When, I bumped into your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and wounded me. I escaped from them and would have bled to death had you not dressed my wound so meticulously. I wished to kill you, but you saved my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your most faithful slave, and will bid my sons also to do the same. Forgive me!”

    The king was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend. He not only forgave him. But promised that he would send his servants and his own physician to attend to him, and even promised to restore his property.

    Having taken leave of the wounded man, the king went out into the porch and looked around for the hermit. Before leaving he wished to beg once more for an answer to his questions. The hermit was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been dug the day before.

    King approached him and said, “For the last time, I pray to you to answer my questions, wise man.”

    “You have already been answered!” said the hermit, still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the king, who stood before him.

    “Answered but how? What do you mean?” asked the king.

    “Don’t you see?” replied the hermit. “If you had not pitied on my weakness yesterday, and had not dug these beds for me. And had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented not having stayed with me. So, the most important time was when you were digging the beds and I was the most important man and to do me good was your most important business.

    Afterwards, when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him. For if you had not nursed his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So, he was the most important man, and what you did for him was your most important business.

    Remember then. There is only one time that is important – and that is now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any kind of power. The most necessary person is the one with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else, and the most important business is to do that person good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life.”

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

***

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****