Justin Reads Leo Tolstoy

In which Justin reads Lev Tolstoy Part of the "Justin Reads" Webring. Go to www.justinkahn.com for more information on this webring as well as the occasional contest.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I did finish Volume 2 of the short stories this week, when I wasn't working on the Concept of Irony.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Back at It

Frankly, the story of Hadji Murad deterred me from my tireless study of Tolstoy.

But now I'm back at it. I've read tirelessly today. But now I'm getting tired, so I don't know how much more reading I'll do.

This post is a break from my reading his story 'Fedor Kuzmich.' It is the story of Alexander I, who fakes his own death to live as a hermit. A little more than half way through the story Alex says, "He prized what ruined both him and me physically and spiritually-and I, unfortunate that I was, also prized it!'

Oh, how very seriously Lev takes things! I wish I could get concern about spiritual destruction into the mouth of my characters.

But no. I am unable to do more than tell booger joke.

For that matter, I can't even get a round figure. Just lists and wordfinds.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Walk in the Light Con't.

With my brand new translation of War and Peace sitting on my desk, I really want to finish up these short stories. Anna Karenina was written after War and Peace, so it would totally make sense that I reread War and Peace.

Of course, before actually rereading war and peace, I'd like to rewatch the BBC 13 hour series. First rate. Anthony Hopkins is in it. Its 13 hours long. Its made by the BBC.

I think watching it as a marathon would be a great idea. You can come over and we'll watch and we'll be smarter. Just to be really pretentious we can watch it on superbowl sunday.

One of the fascinating aspects of the Walk in the Light Story is Tolstoy's belief that we can see society's basic problems as never being solved because we use society's methods to try and stop them. Someone said that Society is where we accept other people so we may be accepted. I think for Tolstoy, when someone deviates from society, society's only weapon is to kick them out, or lower their status.

But Tolstoy suggests there is an alternative. Treat everyone like family.

Its like he tries to reverse the oedipal complex. To show that the basically problem is that we don’t want to treat everyone as sister and mother.

Tolstoy seems to think that the Ideal Political Family is emboddied by the Olive Garden. When you are here you are family.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


I tried to win a Jappanese Style Hanging Scroll of Tolstoy. Alas, somewhat ought there loves tolstoy more than I do.

Nay. They merely have more money than I do. Sigh.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Uh Oh

The good news is that the new translation of War and Peace has shipped. The bad news. I didn't get nearly as far in his earlier works as I had wanted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tolstoy on the Creative Process

Tolsto writes about his creative process:
‘along with serious philosophical thoughts, I often caught myself suddenly thinking: ‘I hope someone will not take and eat my orange’

A lot of people are wondering why my storm of genius simmered down on this blog.

I was thinking about the well being of my oranges.

But be not afraid. As you can see from Leo, this is perfectly natural.

The profundities will resume.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Talk Among Leisured People/Walk in the Light While There is Light

A Talk Among Leisured People is subtitled, 'An Introduction to the Story that Follows'

That's great. Stories introducing stories. A Talk Among Leisured People is a 3 page Blah. Everyone at the dinner table realizes that they have failed as Christians. The End.

But a talk is an interesting prelude to Walk in the Light. It provides a justification for going back in history.

Walk in the Light is astory about the Early Christian Church. (Or how Tolstoy revises early church history)
He shows how a community of people are able to make the world a better place by doing things like, for starters renouncing property. I think Tolstoy is absolutely right about this. And what really impresses me is how Tolstoy is able to experiment with different ethical and philosophical positions.

Having said that, I would like to address a few comments towards my roommate Curtis:

Yes, I spend a lot of money on the little Frappucino's but it really isn't just about the $$$ and I think you know that. I mean the whole point is that like you pay for the convenience. That you can be in your fifth hour of grading GRE's and you can just grab a Frap, and it totally revives you. But you don't want to have to worry about like, what if Curtis drinks the last one.

Anyway, the bulk of Walk in the Light is this kind of contrast beteween those who believe property is absolutely necessary to life, as in it couldn't be any other way, and those who believe that property can be renounced. I find this to be compelling fiction, though I know it is a violation of some kind of rule in fiction.

Maybe, I have a weakness for this kind of dialouge because I started in philosophy. I feel like Tolstoy is doing something which rivals Plato’s dialogues.

That's all for now. I am going to go have a Frappuciuno. If any are left.


Hmmmph. You know that song by David Gray about how girls become mothers become sisters. So this story is kind of like that. Only the song is better.