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The Journal of Leo Tolstoy/Appendix

A SHORT SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF
TOLSTOI AT THE END OF THE
NINETIES

By Constantine Shokor-Trotsky

The present volume of Tolstoi's Journal covers a period from October 28, 1895, to December, 1899. During this time Tolstoi made in all 170 entries[1] in the Journal, the greatest number of them falling in the year 1897, and the smallest in 1899. During certain months, Tolstoi made no entries whatever. There were nine such months in the four years; April and August, 1896; July, 1897; September, October and December, 1898; March, May and August, 1899. The greatest number of interruptions in the entries was caused by ill health, sometimes also by intensive work and sometimes on account of spiritual depression.

I

IMPORTANT EVENTS

Of important outer events which had more or less significance for Tolstoi, and to which he sponded during this time, the following are to be mentioned:[2]

In the first two months of 1896, Tolstoi notes in his Journal and in private letters the death of several people more or less near to him: his relative, N. M. Nagornov; the well-known philosopher, N. N. Strahkov, to whom he was bound by an old friendship; an old woman, Agatha Michailovna, a former maid of his grandmother, who lived all her life in Yasnaya Polyana; the Yasnaya Polyana peasant, Phillip Egorov, who had been a coachman for many years at the Tolstois', and the steward, at one time; the wife of a professor, Olga Storozhenko.

In March and April of the same year, according to his own words, the important events of his life were: making the acquaintance of the peasant, M. P. Novikov; the arrest of his friend, a woman doctor, M. M. Kholevinsky, because she gave his forbidden works to the working people; hearing Wagner's opera, "Siegfried," which aided him in clarifying his conception of true art; becoming acquainted with the works of the noted philosopher, A. A. Spier, which were sent to him by the latter's daughter.

In May, in Moscow at the time of the Coronation, the unfortunate catastrophe which took place on the Khodinka field, the reports of which produced a strong impression on Tolstoi.

In October of this same year, two Japanese came to Tolstoi, whose visit was both interesting and pleasant for him.

In February, 1897, several friends of Tolstoi were subjected to governmental prosecution for their intercession in behalf of the persecuted Dukhobors: P. I. Biriukov was exiled to the city of Bausk in Courland, V. G. Chertkov was exiled abroad and I. M. Tregubov some time later was exiled to Goldingen in Courland.

In February of that year there was the tragedy of an acquaintance of Tolstoi; Miss M. F. Vietrov burning herself, who had been imprisoned in the Fortress of Peter and Paul.

In July of that year Tolstoi's daughter, Maria Lvovna, who stood especially near to him, was married to Prince N. L. Obolensky.

In September, P. A. Boulanger, a friend, was exiled abroad for his activity in behalf of the Dukhobors.

At the end of October the noted American writer, Henry George, died, whose works and whose personality Tolstoi valued very highly.

In November Dr. D. P. Makovitsky, a follower of Tolstoi, came for a short visit from Hungary; later becoming a close friend, he remained with Tolstoi uninterruptedly until the latter's death.

In December, Tolstoi received several anonymous letters with threats of assassination.

In February, 1898, the Dukhobors received permission to emigrate from Russia, which Tolstoi for two years had worked hard to accomplish. In April of that year the Moscow merchant, I. P. Brashnin, a follower of Tolstoi, died.

In April and May there was famine in several districts of Tula, and Tolstoi occupied himself energetically for some time to aid the famine-stricken. He established soup-kitchens, collected money, etc.

In May of that year, the Russkia Viedomosti was suppressed for collecting funds in behalf of the Dukhobors.

In July, Tolstoi decided to finish his novel, Resurrection, "so that it could be published for the benefit of the Dukhobors."

In October, the Dukhobor, V. N. Pozdniakov, visited Tolstoi, coming secretly from his exile in Yakutsk to the Caucasus to see his co-religionists before their emigration to America.

In this same month the peasant, T. M. Bondarev, died, who had lived many years in exile in Siberia, for whose book on The Labor for Bread Tolstoi wrote a preface, and with whom he corresponded. Tolstoi only learned of his death in December.

In 1899 there were almost no external events.

In November of that year, Tolstoi's eldest daughter, Tatiana Lvovna, was married to N. S. Sukhotin.

II

THE PLACES THAT TOLSTOI LIVED IN AND VISITED

Between 1896-1899 Tolstoi lived principally in Yasnaya Polyana. There he generally not only spent most of the summer, but often all of autumn and sometimes even up to January. In Moscow, he generally spent the winter months—from November or December until April and sometimes until May. Besides this, for short periods, Tolstoi would go to other places. Thus, in August, 1896, he visited his sister, the nun, Countess M. N. Tolstoi, living in the convent of Shamordino. At times during these years he visited his brother, Count S. N. Tolstoi, who lived on his estate in Pirogovo in the province of Tula (in May, July and October, 1896, in November, 1897, in August and November, 1898, and in May, 1899).

Besides this, from February to March, 1896, and from February to March, 1897, he visited his friends, the Olsuphievs, on their estate, Nicholskoe, near Moscow; once he spent two weeks with them, another time a whole month with an interruption. The interruption was caused by his sudden trip to Petrograd (in February, 1897) to take leave of his friends, Chertkov and Biriukov, who were being exiled.

At the end of 1897, Tolstoi visited the village Dolgoe, and saw the house in which he was born and in which he spent his childhood and boyhood and which in the fifties was sold to be transferred to this village.

The month of May of 1898, Tolstoi spent in Grinevka, the estate of his son, Count I. L. Tolstoi. While living there, he took charge of the aid to the famine-stricken. From Grinevka he went by horse to visit his friend, the landlord, Levitsky, where he fell seriously ill and spent ten days.

III

WHAT TOLSTOI WROTE

From the period of November, 1895, to 1899 Tolstoi worked on the following manuscripts:[3]

A. Fiction

1. The novel Resurrection (November, 1895-February, 1896, January February, 1897, July-December, 1898, and all of 1899).

2. The drama The Light That Shines in Darkness (December, 1895—planned it; January-April, 1896; October, 1896, and July-August, 1897—planned it).

3. The novel Hadji Murad (September, 1896; March April, 1897—planned it; September, 1897—June, 1898).

4. The story Father Sergius (June, 1898; August, 1898—planned it). Besides this, there are indications that he planned during this period:

5. The story Who is Right? (November, 1897).

6. Notes of a Madman (December, 1896, January, 1897).

7. The drama The Living Corpse (December, 1897).

8. The novel The Forged Coupon (June, 1898, December, 1899).

B. Essays

1. The Christian Doctrine (November-December, 1895, May-July, September-December, 1896)

2. Shameful (December, 1895).

3. A Letter to the Italians (About the Abyssinians, unfinished, March-April, 1896).

4. What Is Art? (May-July, 1896—planned it; November, 1896-April, 1897, July, 1897-February, 1898).

5. How To Read the Gospels and in What Is Their Essence (July, 1896).

6. The Beginning of the End (September-October, 1896).

7. On War (unfinished— November-December, 1896).

8. The Appendix to The Appeal, by P. Biriukov, I. Tregubov and V. G. Chertkov—Help! (December, 1896).

9. The Appeal (unfinished, January-April, 1897, September, 1897-April, 1898— planned it; May-July, 1898).

10. Preface to the essay by Edward Carpenter, Contemporary Science (October, 1897-February, 1898).

11. Preface to the English edition of What Is Art? (April, 1898).

12. Carthago delenda est (April, 1898).

13. Is There Famine or No Famine? (May-June, 1898).

14. Two Wars (August, 1898).

C. Letters

(Those important according to volume and contents).[4]

1. To P. V. Verigin (on the harm and benefit of printing). November 21, 1895.

2. John Mason ("Patriotism and Peace"). December, 1895.

3. Ernest Crosby ("On Non-resistance"). December, 1895—February, 1896.

4. To M. A. Sopotsko ("On the Church Deception"). March 16, 1896.

5. To the Ministers of Justice and the Interior (on the subject of the arrest of Mme. M. N. Kholevinsky). April 20, 1896.

6. To Madame A. M. Kalmikov ("A Letter to the Liberals"). August-September, 1896.

7. To E. Schmidt ("To the editor of a German paper"). October 12, 1896.

8. To P. V. Verigin (an answer to the objections to printing). October 14, 1896.

9. To the commander of the Irkutsk Disciplinary Battalion (on the refusal of P. Olkhovik and C. Sereda from military service). October 22, 1896.

10. To the Commander of the Ekaterinograd Disciplinary Battalion (on the refusal of the Dukhobors from military service). November 1, 1896.

11. To the Countess S. A. Tolstoi (on leaving Yasnaya Polyana). July 8, I897.

12. To the Swedish papers (with the suggestion that the Nobel prize be awarded to the Dukhobors). August-September, 1897.

13. To the Emperor (about the Molokans). October, 1897.

14. To the Peterburgskaia Viedomosti (about the Molokans). October, 1897.

16. To the Russkia Viedomosti (about aid for the famine-stricken). Debruary 21, 1898.

16. To G. H. Gibson—of the American colony Georgia (on argicultural communities). March, 1898.

17. To the Russian papers (on the Dukhobors). March 20, 1898.

18. To the English papers (on the Dukhobors). March 18, 1898.

19. To N ("A letter to an officer"). December, 1898–January, 1899.

20. To the Swedish Group (on the means for attaining universal peace). January-February, 1899.

21. To Prince G. M. Volkhonsky ("On the Transvaal War"). December 4, 1899.

22. To A. I. Dvoriansky ("On religious education"). December 13, 1899.

D. Themes

(Mentioned in the Journal)[5]

1. “On religious Education” (February 13, 1896, in answer to a letter of V. S. Grinevich).

2. “The story of what a man lives through in this life who committed suicide in a past life” (February 13, 1896).

3. "Pictures of Samara life: the steppe, the struggle between the nomadic patriarchal principle and the agricultural culture" (June 19, 1896).

4. "Hadji Murad" (July 19, 1896, under the same title).

5. "Suicide of the old man, Persianinov" (September 14, 1896).

6. “The substitution of a child in an orphan asylum " (September 14, 1896).

7. "A wife’s deception of her passionate, jealous husband: his suffering, struggle and the enjoyment of forgiveness" (November 22, 1896).

8. "A description o the oppression of the serfs and later the same oppression through land ownership, or rather, the being deprived of it" (November 22, 1896).

9. "Notes of a madman" (December 26, 1896).

10. "The theme: A passionate young man in love with a mentally diseased woman" (July 16, 1897).

11. The theme "In pendant to Hadji Murad": "Another Russian outlaw, Grigori Nicholaev" . . . (November 14, 1897).

12. "Sergius" (December 13, 1897, "Father Sergius").

13. "Alexander I" (December 13, 1897, "Posthumous notes of the monk, Fedor Kuzmich").

14. "Persianninov" (December 13, 1897).

15. "The story of Petrovich—a man who died a pilgrim" (December 13, 1897, "Korin Vasiliev").

I6. "The legend of the descent of Christ into Hell and the resurrection of Hell" (December 13, 1897, "The resurrection of Hell and its destruction").

17. "The Forged Coupon" (December 13, 1897, under the same title).

18. "A substituted child" (December 13, 1897).

19. "The drama of the Christian resurrection" (December 13, 1897).

20. "Resurrection—the trial of a prostitute" (December 13, 1897, Resurrection).

21. "An outlaw killing the defenceless" (December 13, 1897).

22. "Mother" (December 13, 1897).

23. "An execution in Odessa" (December 13, 1897, Divine and human).

24. "A bit of fiction, in which would be clearly expressed the flowing quality of man: that he, one and the same man, is now an evil-doer, now an angel, now a wise man, now an idiot, now a strong man, now the most impotent being" (March 21, 1898).

25. "Everything depends, to what one directs one’s consciousness" (November 14, 1898).

26. "On why the people are corrupted" (November 25, 1898).

IV

REFLECTIONS ON TOLSTOI'S THOUGHTS IN THE JOURNAL

Besides the above mentioned literary labours of Tolstoi, his thought life ought to be mentioned which at first found expression in his note-book and from which later he would transcribe those thoughts into his Journal which appeared to him valuable. These thoughts were sometimes, as we say, absolutely accidental, sometimes they were called forth by conversations with various people and sometimes they were the responses to outer events. The greater part of them came in connection with some work on hand or one which he was planning, or were for some inner clarification or spiritual discussion of problems which, above all, agitated and interested him.

Of the thoughts which came in connection with his works on hand from 1896 to 1899, a sufficiently important number can be pointed out as auxiliary thoughts for the thinking over and working out of his "Catechism" (or the "Christian Doctrine"); such were a number of thoughts about faith, Christian doctrine, sin, etc. A great number of thoughts on art appeared in connection with his contemplated work, What Is Art? On the conclusion of this work there are almost no thoughts on art in the Journal. Many thoughts were entered for The Appeal, i. e., for the purpose of including them in the contemplated manuscript but which was never finished in that form. Rarely, thoughts are met in the Journal which are in connection with his work on some literary topic.

Besides the thoughts which appeared in connection with his writings, one meets in the Journal, as was said above, such thoughts which appeared during the period of intense clarification of the various problems of his personal and family life. In connection with the observations which he lived through and experienced, Tolstoi quite often wrote down his own spiritual state, his personal sufferings and the right attitude that he should take towards them.

At one time, he was occupied especially with the problem of the philosophic definition of time and space and he wrote down his thoughts on this theme quite often. At another time, he was interested in the problem of error, of whether the outer world was such as it appeared. Quite often he noted his thoughts on the themes: On God, on the meaning of life, on the difference between the spiritual and the animal life, on reason, on prayer. Quite often, at this time, thoughts came to him about the given work of God, about service to God, about love in general and about love towards enemies in particular.

Besides this, there are scattered in the whole Journal for the four mentioned years, various thoughts on the sex-problem—on falling in love, on women, on marriage—and also quite a number of thoughts on illness, on death, on the unjust life of the rich, on memory and on many other subjects. Sometimes one finds thoughts in the Journal which appear in connection with the books that he was reading; for instance, there are several thoughts called forth by the reading of the philosophic works of Schopenhauer and Spier. The fact that there are few notes in the Journal about the books that had been read or were being read is, of course, no sign that Tolstoi read little. It is sufficient to open his book, What Is Art, to convince oneself as to the enormous amount of books that were read and studied by Tolstoi on the one theme of art alone for this work; nevertheless, there are very few of them mentioned in the Journal.

V

SOME FEATURES FROM THE SPIRITUAL DOMAIN OF TOLSTOI'S LIFE[6]

In due time, when absolutely all Tolstoi's Journals and letters and all his writings which have not yet appeared will be printed, and also when all the unused material about him, that literary inheritance in all its enormous volume, will be made use of, then it will be possible to carefully study the great process of the growth of Tolstoi's soul. At the present moment, when a great number of Tolstoi's writings and the reminiscences about him are not yet published, it is impossible to really penetrate the whole depth and breadth of Tolstoi's spirit. At present, it is only possible to throw light on the general characteristics of several separate sides of his inner life, in one or several of its periods.

Therefore, this short sketch of Tolstoi's life at the end of the nineties, which deals not only with his outer but with his inner life, does in no way intend to give an exhaustive exposition of his varied and complicated spiritual states. In the description which is here placed of several features of Tolstoi's spiritual life, the principal attention is given to that state, which for over three years almost constantly dominated Tolstoi, in connection with one of the most lasting and torturing periods of intense spiritual suffering in the domain of his domestic life. Such periods happened to Tolstoi even before, in the seventies and in the eighties and in the very last years of his life.

Of course, the description of only one feature of Tolstoi's inner life, cannot be an indication that he had not other kinds of spiritual states, not connected with his home life. The numerous and extensive entries in the Journal testify that Tolstoi often experienced states of high religious exaltation and of intimate spiritual union and fusion with God, as well as states of the earnest seeking of the path towards perfection, flowing from a sharp discontent with himself and a repentance for his errors and weaknesses (quite often the states were called forth by spiritual suffering). In this sketch are emphasised and brought forth the logical connection of at least one most torturing feature of his inner life, which is reflected in disconnected brilliant entries in his Journal—features which show the cross that he bore for the last thirty years of his life. The time has not yet come for a full description of all the sides and conditions of Tolstoi's life, and therefore the intimate places have been omitted in the present edition of the Journal. In consequence, the reader will not find an exhaustive description in these chapters of the personal life of Tolstoi which is connected with his family relations.


From 1895 to 1899 Tolstoi lived through much spiritual suffering and struggle, and during this time he was ill quite often. If one carefully followed all the entries in the Journal, then it would clearly be seen that almost all his severe illnesses came after depressing inner experiences.

With the strength of his deep religiousness, Tolstoi invariably strove to use, in the best spiritual sense, all the trials which were given to him as his lot, physical as well as spiritual, and through intense inner labour he generally at the end succeeded in converting all his sufferings, to use his own language, to the joy of fulfilling the will of God.


At the end of 1895, Tolstoi was earnestly occupied with the plot of his drama, 'The Light that Shines in Darkness; this plot agitated him so that he even dreamed of it and he raved about it in his sleep. This can be easily understood in view of the fact that there are many autobiographic elements in this drama.

And so he wrote in the Journal that he "lived through much," in reading over, at the request of his wife, his journals for the past seven years.[7]

At the same time, Tolstoi complains several times in his Journal of his general indisposition, of his weakness, and of his lack of energy.

In the course of the three years, from 1896 to 1898, Tolstoi often experienced a fall of spirit, strong attacks of sorrow and torturing agony. The greatest part of his suffering was caused by the lack of understanding of several people near to him, either for his point of view or for his inner life,[8] and because of the "emptiness of his surrounding life."[9]

He even felt "hatred" for himself[10] and he was burdened by his part in the "unjust, idle, luxurious[11] life." But here the thought would come to him that he had to suffer humiliation,[12] and at times he created supplementary thoughts, which in fun he called "prescriptions" for his spiritual suffering.[13]

On December 2, 1896, Tolstoi wrote in his Journal: "This is my condition . . . oh, this luxury, this richness, this absence of care about the material life! . . ."

The thought that this indeed was his task, given to him, had a calming effect. He tried to look on the conditions in which he was placed as upon a test of humbleness, "humiliation." But "in chains, in a prison, one can pride oneself on one's humiliation"—he wrote—"but here it is only painful, unless one accepts it as a trial sent by God."[14] The calm state which was created through the influence of these thoughts was only short-lived. His heart began soon again to pain and he "wants to cry over himself, over the remnant of his life which is being futilely ruined."[15]

His surrounding life[16] which tortured him called forth long periods of agony, dejection and fall of spirits. But with the thoughts about love towards enemies,[17] there came to him the urge to look upon his work, as the work of love which was given to him, and again peace possessed him, "because a loving one."[18] But soon again this peace became principally an outer one, and within himself he again wavered.[19] Again he is "ashamed and depressed because of the consciousness of the lawlessness of his life."[20]

After a month, he makes an entry in his Journal, but tears it out, putting only the words, "A bad and sterile month" and adds, "Have torn out, burned, what I have written in heat."[21] Then for a long time he wrote nothing, and during this time he "lived through much that was difficult and good."[22] On the 8th of July he wrote his very famous letter to his wife, which she received after his death,[23] which began with the words, "It is already a long time that I am tortured by the lack of harmony between my life and my beliefs" and in which further on he wrote about his decision to do that which "he had wanted to do for a long time: to go away." But no matter how difficult the conditions of his family life were at this time, they were not yet sufficiently ripe to bring him over to a definite decision to leave his family, and to fulfil his ancient dream of life in more simple conditions among working people. And in view of the fact that he decided to change his decision, he gave the above-mentioned letter for safe-keeping to his son-in-law, Prince N. L. Obolensky, with the request to give it to the one designated, when he was no longer among the living. Although Tolstoi remained this time in Yasnaya Polyana, his life among master-class conditions did not cease to burden him even for a short time, and he felt himself alone,[24] he often experienced sorrow as before, and in spirit he felt "solemn," "gloomy."[25]

At the end of that year (1897), he wrote the thought in his Journal, of the tragedy of the situation of "a man kindly disposed wishing only the good" but who in return meets only "hissing malice and the hatred of people."[26] And soon again he writes in his Journal that he is in an agonised, sad, crushed state,[27] which, however, he is trying to fight off with all his strength. ("The house is depressing but I want to and will be joyous."[28]) But this inner struggle in spiritual isolation was of course not easy, and demanded great spiritual strength before it could be fully successful. He was constantly tortured by the injustice of his surrounding life and his own almost futile situation in this life; and he becomes "at times good and calm, at times uneasy and not good."[29] In this state he often wants to cry,[30] and only in time does his condition become less agitated and sometimes even entirely calm.

In the summer of 1898, Tolstoi was twice seriously ill. After these illnesses he entered in his Journal the joy of getting well and a clearness of thinking. Soon after this he underwent new spiritual experiences and in July, 1898, he again considered going away from the conditions of life in Yasnaya Polyana which were depressing and which were against his philosophy. He then wrote a letter to A. A. Järnefelt and made a note in the Journal that he has no strength to withstand the customary temptation,[31] i. e., the desire to go away; it was to Järnefelt that he turned with the request to help him in his plan of going away which he was then considering. But this time also, "the temptation passed," as he wrote him later. And again his life flowed on as before.

The thought of "going away" came to Tolstoi more than once, both early and late, but he considered it a temptation because it would have been spiritually much more easy for him to go away than to refrain from this step. As he expressed himself once, he believed that when there is a doubt in one's soul, as to which one of two possible steps one should take, then it were better to give preference to that one in which there is the greatest self-sacrifice.

In 1899, Tolstoi felt himself spiritually improved and notwithstanding his severely undermined health, he occupied himself much and fruitfully with Resurrection. In the autumn of that year he made the entry in the Journal, "I have wrought for myself a calm which is not to be disturbed: not to speak and to know that this is necessary: that it is under these conditions one ought to live."[32]

Only ten years later, the circumstances arose which freed Tolstoi from the consciousness of the moral responsibility to remain in the conditions of his home life. And having come to the conclusion of the absolute inevitability of going away, he dared, only ten days before his end, to freely give himself to his cherished wish to change the outer conditions of his life.

 
  1. Of the 170 entries in the present edition, the editors have omitted 102 places (1,707 words) because of their intimate character, and 55 places (1,102 words) on account of the censor. Besides this, in the Notes, one place (9 words) has been omitted on account of its intimate character and 14 places (245 words) on account of the censor.
  2. The compilation of facts concerning the important events in Tolstoi's life were not only made from his Journal but from letters to various individuals.
  3. This list has been compiled not only from Tolstoi's Journal, but from other sources. As far as can be judged from the Journal, Tolstoi during some months, while busied with the revision of some one of his manuscripts, would at the same time not write but only consider some other bit of work; this kind of creative work is noted in the list as "planned."
  4. All these letters have been printed, if not in Russia then abroad; in those instances where a letter has been printed under a definite title, that title is enclosed in quotation marks.
  5. In parentheses I have given the dates in which he mentions the theme and the final title of the theme as it was developed.
  6. I consider it absolutely necessary to mention that this exposition has been carefully revised by V. G. Chertkov, who, having been connected with Tolstoi by a friendship of many years, was closely acquainted with the home conditions of his outer life, as well as with the most intimate characteristic of his inner life.
  7. November 5, 1895, page 5.
  8. May 17, 1896, page 46.
  9. May 28, 1896, page 52.
  10. June 26, 1896, page 60.
  11. June 19, 1896, page 58.
  12. July 31, 1896, page 69.
  13. October 20, 1896, page 83; November 5, page 88, and November 20, 1897, page 171.
  14. December 20, 1896, page 108.
  15. December 21, 1896, page 108.
  16. January 18, 1897, page 117.
  17. March 1, 1897, page 135.
  18. March 9, 1897, page 404.
  19. April 4 and 9, 1897, page 137.
  20. April 4, 1897, page 137.
  21. May 3, 1897, page 139.
  22. July 16, 1897, page 140.
  23. This letter was published in many editions among others in the Letters of Tolstoi to his Wife, Moscow, 1913, pages 524-526.
  24. July 16, 1897, page 140.
  25. July 17, page 142; October 22, page 162; November 28, page 176, and further.
  26. November 28, 1897, page 177.
  27. December 2, 1897, page 177.
  28. December 13, 1897, page 182.
  29. January 13, 1898, page 195.
  30. April 12, 1898, page 219.
  31. July 17, 1898, page 244.
  32. September 28, 1899, page 277.