Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tolstoy Advanced? (Updated)

I have just come across this quote from Tolstoy that has some application here:

"Once for all [he had written at twenty-five] I must accustom myself to the idea that I am an exceptional being, one who is ahead of his period, and who is by temperament absurd, unsociable and always dissatisfied…. I have been lying to myself in imagining that I have friends, that there were people who understood me. A mistake! I have never met a single man who was morally as good as I am, who has always in every situation been drawn, as I have been, to the good. Who, like me, is always ready to sacrifice everything for this ideal. It is on this account that I find no society in which I feel at home."

As you may know, Tolstoy had a religious conversion later in life, which is something that can happen with the Advanced. Usually it is temporary, or the artist isn't quite as converted as he seems.

Update: Edmund Wilson noted that "in the interests of [Tolstoy's] religion, he denounced his early novels, which had given his public so much pleasure." Advanced.

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