Of recent, I have been submerged in working and reading (more so emphasis on working than preferred) with little to no time for writing. It is justifiable I think as I have committed to reading and offering reviews for several of your newly published works, and yes, I am close… be patient with me.
You will know him for famous contributions as War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and The Death of Ivan Ilych (I’ve not read these yet, although they patiently wait for me in my Kindle), but my infatuation comes in the form of his short stories. Yes, he is Leo Tolstoy.
I heard it said of the current Pope that he speaks much to remind one of Jesus, and I think that describes the writing of Tolstoy well, his words ringing with the richness of the parables of the Christ. His are those similarly in written form bringing boundless realities from pen to page.
So I ask, why don’t writers often write like this anymore? I find myself glued to these archaic stories pressed from long ago Russia as though they were written expressly for me and for my time. Tolstoy’s stories are entertaining enough, but each unveils a universal truth that prompts the reader to think, evaluate, and examine life and its meaning.
I read of two old men and their journey to Jerusalem, of which the story only allows one to physically go there, describing how we really journey with God in our service to others, more so than all the public worship we can muster, and I am literally floored by the author’s clarity and ability to grasp my attention denying release until story’s end.
From all I gather, Mr. Tolstoy walked away from the prosperity he was born in to and could have increasingly experienced to follow in what he believed the footsteps of Jesus, seemingly disowning his most famous works because they brought him too much attention and didn’t portray the message of his later years. He became like the characters in many of his stories, peasants struggling in a hardened world looking for a city not made by men’s hands.
He writes of a cobbler who meets Jesus face to face… in the bodies of wayward travelers and single mothers raising children. He tells of a wrongly imprisoned saint who refuses to identify the true criminal, and dies in his cell. He makes much of the journeyman who spends his bounty meeting the needs of the downtrodden.
Many did not and will not like Tolstoy’s literal interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount for it renders a costly duty from we who will say we follow Jesus. It was his understanding of Jesus’ teaching here that led him to trade fame and fortune for suffering and persecution.
Tolstoy believed the duty for every one who follows Christ is summed up in the Sermon on the Mount. It was his exposit of these texts that moved greatly the hearts of men like Gandhi (he would conclude that he really liked Christianity’s Christ, just not its Christians) and Martin Luther King Jr.
As I have just begun to read these tales of inspiration, maybe you might add kindling, some word toward or aft for Mr.Tolstoy’s writings?