Authors We Love: Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy (Novelist) - On This Day

Tolstoy has done a lot of thinking on human nature in his novels. From these thinking, we can see the most real aspect of Tolstoy’s spiritual world. Tolstoy’s reflections on human nature were inspired mainly by the history and reality of Russia at the time. On the one hand, traditional Russia was a patriarchal society, and the Orthodox Church determined the way people thought and felt. Tolstoy was also deeply influenced by the Orthodox Church, whether his attitude was one of acceptance or reservation. On the other hand, the European spirit of enlightenment also exerted a deep influence on Russia, which shook the foundation of traditional Russian belief to a great extent.

The influence of the spirit of enlightenment on Tolstoy was also significant, which made Tolstoy suspect the basic doctrinarian system of Orthodox Church, and he would not think about the issue of faith like ordinary believers. However, Tolstoy did not fully move towards the Enlightenment position of individualism in Europe, so his thinking on human nature often drifted between the two, sometimes like a believer, sometimes like a humanist. The utopian thoughts in Tolstoy’s works are mainly reflected in the resistance against violence and slavery, the opposition to private land system, and the opposition to the promotion of capitalist material civilization and evolution.

He demanded the return to a healthy farming life through the work and moral practice of everyone to establish brotherhood, equality, harmony and fraternity of all human beings. Tolstoy created epic novels. The historical facts are blended with artistic fiction, and the bold and unrestrained brushwork is mixed with delicate description. Tolstoy shows his personal face in a large group portrait. The epic’s solemnity is interspersed with lyrical monologues, which are varied and magnificent. He is good at handling the structure of many clues and the threads are all joined together seamlessly. He can break through the closed form of the novel as magnificent as life has no beginning and no end.

Tolstoy’s artistic charm lies not only in reproducing the macro world, but also in portraying the micro world. Tolstoy has mastered the dialectical development of the mind unprecedentedly in the world literature and described the evolution process of the mind under the influence of the outside world in detail. He dives deep into the subconscious and show it in a harmonious connection with the conscious mind. Tolstoy’s artistic power is real, and it is evident in the shaping of character. He faithfully describes the multifaceted, rich, and complex nature of his characters, not just their dominant side or a dominant state of mind.

He does not conceal the faults of his beloved, nor does he stifle the glimmer of light that flashes in the heart of the character he reveals. He does not sugar-paint, exaggerate, idealize or caricature, but always shows his true nature by the help of real and objective description, thus seeing greatness in the ordinary or, conversely, showing its horror in the ordinary phenomena. Tolstoy’s style is chiefly characterized by its simplicity. He strives for the fullest and most accurate reflection of the truth of life or expression of his own thoughts. Therefore, although he is strict in art, he does not seek to win by skill alone, nor does he seek formal delicacy and avoid long compound sentences, but only seeks the maximum expression. In order to show the disillusionment of the characters in structure, he often adopts the method of flashback. In language, the novel strives to be simple and concise and easy to understand, close to folktales.

-Coreen C.

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