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God and Man According To Tolstoy by Alexander Boot (auth.)

By Alexander Boot (auth.)

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Sample text

Sanguinely inclined. . Mania: the patient thinks it possible to change the lives of others by words. ” It is true that Tolstoy cried easily and on any provocation, or without one. Thus his 1852 letter to his aunt: “Votre lettre m’a fait pleurer. ” Again, “After dinner, Kh. recited a Nikitin poem with pathos but without particular inspiration. Everybody liked his recitation. N. ” Another typical symptom of epilepsy is an exaggerated response to music. Tolstoy’s was a combination of his usual lugubriousness and terror.

He also habitually walked the streets wearing nothing but an overcoat over his naked body. Before Tolstoy developed full-blown “grand mal” epilepsy toward the end of his life, he had suffered from “epilepsy equivalents,” which Prof. Yevlakhov traces as far back as 1867. ” But at no time would any professional dismiss his symptoms as insignificant. One of them was frequent outbreaks of uncontrollable rage, usually directed at his nearest and dearest. Tolstoy’s sister-in-law describes one episode when he took exception to Mrs Tolstoy’s sitting on the floor.

His own knowledge, that is. In fact, Tolstoy’s religion was as solipsistic as his morals. Gorky’s recollection is typical: In the diary he gave me to read I was struck by the aphorism ‘God is my wish’. Today, having returned the diary, I asked what that meant. ‘An unfinished thought’, he said squinting at the page. ‘I must have wanted to say God is my wish to know him . . No, not that . ’ He laughed, rolled the notebook into a tube and stuck it into the wide pocket of his blouse. He has a very uncertain relationship with God, but sometimes they remind me of two bears in the same den.

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