Tolstoy Has Delayed Your Review

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.

tolstoyI’ve also found a new spectacle to add to those who soar beyond the rest on my list of favored authors. I should have read him a lot sooner.

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?

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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15 Responses to Tolstoy Has Delayed Your Review

  1. Pingback: War and the promise of Peace | The Etymon

  2. Amazing! I just recently started reading Tolstoy. I was drawn to the way he weaved Christianity and Biblical principles into his writing. People thought I was crazy…lol…thanks for this piece…

    • mtsweat says:

      I love it to find others fascinated by these works… and reading alongside. I chuckled at your words of people thinking you crazy as I currently read Tolstoy’s biography. It’s what many thought of him personally so it only stands to reason those who enjoy his work receive the same. 🙂

  3. Jack Flacco says:

    I didn’t know that about Tolstoy. I’ve always wanted to read War and Peace.

    • mtsweat says:

      Thanks for the words Jack. I’ve become the huge fan of the Kindle as works like Tolstoy are not only available, but priced ridiculously low. I also hope to read War and Peace one of these days.

  4. I purchased a book or two of Tolstoy years ago and have yet to read any of him. Now I must make the time. Thanks!

  5. gospelofbarney says:

    If life were only your blog, but it isn’t – I’m going to a family reunion! Be off line nearly a week – a treasure and blessing!

  6. Raven says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    NTS: Must read!

  7. ccragamuffin says:

    I read many of his short stories to my children…”How Much Land Does A Man Need?”…”What Men Live By”…”God Sees The Truth But Waits”…”the Three Questions”. We memorized and acted out “Where Love Is, There Is God”. His short stories are parables, his novels a work of art. But they became more poignant to me when I read biographies of Tolstoy. He was a pilgrim who painstakingly struggled with how the world was, verses how it should be. He wanted perfection…in himself as well as others…he was very serious about his failures. Listen to his heart here in response to his critics…who were many…”Attack me, I do this myself, but attack me rather than the path I follow and which I point out to anyone who asks me where I think it lies. If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way because I am staggering from side to side! if it is not the right way, then show me another way; but if I stagger and lose the way, you must help me, you must keep me on the true path, just as I am ready to support you…do not shout out joyfully: ‘Look at him! He said he was going home, but there he is crawling into a bog’ No, do not gloat, but give me your help and support.” My heart grew tender under his mentorship by reading his stories and biographies. Time well spent. Thank you for the reminder. I will revisit these friends.

    • mtsweat says:

      I’m inspired by this quote and by your sharing it with us. He really nailed the right heart and mindset of the professing believer as to be one who is always edifying and lifting, never tearing down. I too am reading his biography, as for about 2 bucks on Kindle, one can own an entire library of Tolstoy. Fascinating man, but one whose philosophy goes greatly against the grain of routine Christianity in the west. (Did I say that?)

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