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The ‘thinker’ in Tolstoy

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When I came across the first volume of Tolstoy’s journal I didn’t expect it to be a great read. The cover was a boring green and knowing his style of writing I was ready for a tough read. But the volume (1895-1899) which opened before my eyes took an entirely different style from his novels. It was like all his thoughts are being communicated to the reader as if talking to a friend.

The journal reveals some of human nature’s hardest questions and his thoughts all assembled together prove the genius in his novel writing. How his mind flooded with intense self exploration led to the creation of some finest novels in world literature.
Sometimes he would write down his weaknesses and most of his entries end with a philosophical insight to life. He presents his personal flaws as if writing down a list. Laziness, indecision, as with most writers discontented thoughts, insecurity, mendacity, vanity and regret. He reflects on death, “If I live” January 26 [27?]. Moscow.

He comments on his own actions as if evaluating his own behavior through the eye of another.

His thoughts reflect the spiritual awakening of the Russians during the 1917 revolution. He naturally becomes the entire mindset of millions of people clamoring for a change. Tolstoy wanted to discover life from the peasants not from the rich. This is why he is still appreciated by the people of Russia; because his heart was made to discover a way to create a difference in society with his art of writing. His words were directed right to the heart of common man.
He raises several questions about time. He longs to achieve a perfect self devoid of mistakes. These questions play a major role in the coming years of his life as a novelist. This is why his characters were unique and entirely life like: they carried common questions and heartbreaks.

He would have conclusions, reasoning and reflections all together. His desire to look into the mysteries of life is what led him to create characters like Anna Karenina and Pierre Bezukhov of War and Peace. He doesn’t give much detail about war or ongoing events of the country even though affairs in Russia ware repeatedly appearing in every newspaper around the world. His journal holds a lot of spiritual value than any historical value.

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