Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Many beautiful phrases have already been written, there is no great need for me to try and write more, all I need to do is draw your attention to them. This post is dedicated to Ruby of the ruby-red gloves, who asked me for these quotes.

This is a non-narrative review, consisting almost entirely of Tolstoy's sentences and phrases taken out of context. If you want to know the context, the page references are to the Penguin classics edition of the new Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. My comments in italics. 

Part 1, XVII, pg 61: ... the more outwardly obedient and deferential he was, the less he respected and loved her in his soul.

Part 1, XXII, pg 79: ... her loveliness consisted precisely in always standing out from what she wore, that what she wore was never seen on her. (... her loveliness consisted precisely in making stand out what she wore, that you saw her, and seeing her you saw what she wore, and the moss, the trees, the stones, the water, the very air that surrounded her.)

Part 1, XXII, pg 80: ... long afterwards, for several years, that look, so full of love, which she gave him then, and to which he did not respond, cut her heart with tormenting shame. (Guilty as accused, I can only say I am sorry.)

Part 1, XXX, pg 104: She was especially struck by the feeling of dissatisfaction with herself that she experienced on meeting him.

Part 1, XXXI, pg 104: He felt himself a king, not because he thought he had made an impression on her - he did not believe that yet - but because the impression she had made on him gave him happiness and pride.

Part 2, XXII, pg 185: He thought of only one thing, that he was about to see her, not just in imagination, but alive, all of her, as she was in reality. (A writer for the ages, truly, anticipating the reaction to e-dating.)

Part 2, XXX, pg 214: She was not interested in those she knew, feeling that nothing new would come from them.

Part 2, XXXIII, pg 224: ...she would seek out the unfortunate people, help them as much as possible, ...the sick, the criminal, the dying. (Captures my involvement with OccupySF?)

Part 2, XXXIII, pg 226: ... doubt poisoned the charm of her new life.

Part 3, II, pg 241: For him words took away the beauty of what he saw.

Part 3, III, pg 243: ... a dilemma: 'Either you are so undeveloped that you cannot see all that you could do, or you cannot give up your peace, your vanity, whatever, in order to do it.' (Enough about me, let's talk about you.)

Part 3, XVI, pg 292: 'He's right! He's right!' she said. 'Of course, he's always right, he's a Christian, he's magnanimous! Yes, the mean, vile man! And I'm the only one who understands or ever will understand it; and I can't explain it. They say he's a religious, honest, moral, intelligent man; but they don't see what I've seen. They don't know how he has been stifling my life for eight years, stifling everything that was alive in me, that he never once even thought that I was a living woman who needed love. They don't know how he insulted me at every step and remained pleased with himself. Didn't I try as hard as I could to find a justification for my life? Didn't I try to love him, and to love my son when it was no loner possible to love my husband? But the time has come, I've realised that I can no longer deceive myself, that I am alive, that I am not to blame if God has made me so that I must love and live. And what now? If he killed me, if he killed him, I could bear it all, I could forgive it all, but no, he...
'How did I not guess what he would do? He'll do what's proper to his mean character. He'll remain right, and as for me, the ruined one, he will make my ruin still worse, still meaner ...'
(Tolstoy channeling Betty Friedan and half the women on AshleyMadison.)

Part 3, XX, pg 306: Of the same age as Vronsky and his classmate, he was a general and expected an appointment that might influence the course of state affairs, while Vronsky, though independent and brilliant and loved by a charming woman, was none the less only a cavalry captain...

pp.s 380-408: The causes of romance have already taken place, now it is the laying to rest of all doubts.

Part 4, IX, pg 382: Yet now, when he heard that she was there, he suddenly felt such joy, and at the same time such fear, that his breath was taken away and he could not bring out what he wanted to say.
She saw him the instant he came into the room. She had been waiting for him. She was joyful and so embarrassed by her joy that there was a moment - as he went up to the hostess and glanced at her again - when it seemed to her, and to him, and to Dolly, who saw it all, that she would not be able to stand it and would start to cry.

Part 4, IX, pg 384: It seemed there was nothing extraordinary in what she said, yet for him, what meaning, inexpressible in words, there was in every sound, in every movement of her lips, eyes, arm, as she said it! … a caress, a tender, timid caress, and a promise, and hope, and love for him, in which he could not but believe and which choked him with happiness.

Part 4, XI, pg 390: '… and for an instant you flashed by, and I saw in the window, you were sitting like this --- … thinking terribly hard about something,' he said, smiling. 'How I longed to know what you were thinking about!'

Part 4, XII, pg 395: Love those who hate you. But to love those you hate is impossible.

Part 4, XIII, pg 395: He began at once, and without the slightest effort, to fulfill the promise he had given her --- always to think well of all people and always to love everyone. … he talked with them, trying only to reconcile them and and soften their objections. He was not the least bit interested in what he said himself … and desired only one thing --- that they and everyone should be nice and agreeable. He now knew the one important thing.

Part 4, XIII, pg 396: Levin had often noticed in arguments between the most intelligent people that … they loved different things and therefore did not want to name what they loved, so as not to be challenged. … sometimes … you would understand what your opponent loves, and suddenly come to love the same thing yourself, … sometimes it was the other way around: you would finally say what you yourself love, for the sake of which you are inventing your reasonings, and if you happened to say it well and sincerely,the opponent would suddenly agree and stop arguing.

Part 4, XIII, pg 397: "When you answered me: 'that cannot be', did it mean never or then?"
"Then I could give no other answer."

Part 5, XII, pg 475: He had forgotten this picture, painted three years ago, forgotten all the agonies and ecstasies he had lived through with this picture, when it alone had occupied him persistently...

Part 5, XIV, pg 480: She was supposed to be loved and only that. But, like all men, he had forgotten that she also needed to work. ( Recall that Tolstoy finished this by 1877! )
Part 5, XIV, pg 482: he understood … that he no longer knew where she ended and he began. He understood it by the painful feeling of being split which he experienced at that moment.
To remain under so unjust an accusation was tormenting, but to hurt by vindicating himself was still worse.
Part 5, XIX, pg 496: The proof that they knew what death was lay in their knowing, without a moment's doubt, how to act with dying people and not being afraid of them.
Part 5, XX, pg 504: … its inevitability appeared still more horrible to him; but now, thanks to his wife's nearness, the feeling did not drive him to despair …
Part 5, XXI, pg 506: He felt that he could not divert people's hatred from himself, because the reason for that hatred was not that he was bad (then he could have tried to be better), but that he was shamefully and repulsively unhappy.
Part 5, XXI, pg 507: And now, among all his acquaintances, there was no one who was close to him. There were many of what are known as LinkedIn connections or FaceBook friends, but there were no friendly relations. ( Tolstoy before 1877, predicting the cause of the angst of our generation. )
Part 5, XXII, pg 510: “... don't give in to that feeling you spoke of – of being ashamed of what is the true loftiness of being a Christian: 'He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.' And you cannot thank me. You must thank Him and ask Him for help. In Him alone shall we find peace, comfort, salvation and love.”
Part 5, XXII, pg 511: Alexei easily became convinced of it. Like Lydia and other people who shared their views, he was totally lacking in depth of imagination. … He did not see anything impossible or incongruous, in the notion that death, which existed for unbelievers, did not exist for him, and that since he possessed the fullest faith, of the measure of which he himself was the judge, there was no sin in his soul and he already experienced full salvation here on Earth. … it was so necessary for him in his humiliation to possess at least an invented loftiness from which he, despised by everyone, could despise others, that he clung to his imaginary salvation as if it were salvation indeed.
Part 5, XXIV, pg 516: “It is rightly said that all is evil in the world.”, he thought again, casting another sidelong glance at the calves of the gentleman of the bed-chamber.
Part 5, XXVII, pg 526: She was nine years old, she was a child; but she knew her own soul, it was dear to her, she protected it as the eyelid protects the eye, and did not let anyone into her soul without the key of love.
Part 5, XXX, pg 537: Though she had just said that he was better and kinder than she, feelings of loathing and spite towards him and envy over her son came over her as she glanced quickly at him, … she lowered her veil and … all but ran out of the room.
Part 6, XI, pg 587: “like the acquisitions of banks, this evil, the acquisition of huge fortunes without work, as it used to be with tax-farming, has merely changed its form … the same gain without work.”
Part 6, XVIII, pg 614: “I've always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, as they are, and not as you'd like them to be.” …
If you have any sins, they should all be forgiven you for coming and for those words.”
Part 7, III, pg 680: It flattered his vanity that such a learned man was telling him his thoughts so eagerly, with such attention and confidence in his knowledge of the subject, … He ascribed it to his own merit, unaware that Metrov, having talked about it to everyone around him, was especially eager to talk on the subject with each new person, …
Part 7, XII, pg 704: She did not want to fight, she reproached him for wanting to fight, but involuntarily she herself assumed a fighting position.
Part 7, XVII, pg 720: “I oppose systems of protection, not for the sake of the profit of private persons, but for the common good – for lower and upper classes equally, but they cannot understand it, they are concerned only with personal interest and have a passion for phrases.”
Part 7, XXIII, pg 739: In order to undertake anything in family life, it is necessary that there be either complete discord between the spouses or loving harmony. But when the relations between spouses are uncertain and there is neither the one nor the other, nothing can be undertaken.
Many families stay for years in the same old places, hateful to both spouses, only because there is neither full discord nor harmony.
( And, I, I was part of great discord and almost complete submission? Hence we were able to move from the same old place? )
Part 8, I, pg 771: he saw that the question had become one of those fashionable fads which … always serve as a subject of concern for society. He saw that much here was frivolous and ridiculous … but with all that came another phenomenon that made him rejoice: this was the manifestation of public opinion. … And the more involved he became in it, the more obvious it seemed to him that this was a cause that would attain vast proportions, that would mark an epoch.
Part 8, V, pg. 780: “One needs no recommendations in order to die.”
Part 8, VI, pg 783: But Kitty did not listen to what she said. Her impatience kept growing along with the baby's. Owing to that impatience, it was a long time before matters were put right. The baby grabbed the wrong thing and got angry. Finally after a desperate, gasping cry and empty sucking, matters were put right, mother and baby simultaneously felt pacified, and both quieted down.
( This observation alone belies the claim that Tolstoy was removed from family life. Perhaps he was at an emotional remove, but at least he was there to observe it, if only once. But in that one instance he saw a pattern. )
Part 8, VIII, pg. 785: “What kind of unbeliever is he? With his heart, with that fear of upsetting anyone, even a child? Everything for others, nothing for himself.” …
Yes, be just like your father, be just like him”
Part 8, VIII, pg. 786: Moreover, he felt vaguely that what he called his convictions were not only ignorance but were a way of thinking that made the knowledge he needed impossible. …
Are these people sincere, are they not pretending?
Part 8, XIX, pg. 817: “I'll get angry in the same way … argue in the same way, speak my mind inappropriately, there will be the same wall between my soul's holy of holies and other people, I'll accuse others in the same way of my own fear and then regret it … – but my life now, my whole life, is not only not meaningless, as it was before, but has the unquestionable meaning of the good which is in my power to put into it!”
The End

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