Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Divine and Human

Tolstoy and Chai Tea.
Like I said, I love Russian Lit. I especially love Tolstoy (perhaps because he hated Shakespeare? Muhaha!), so when my good friend, Licia, graced me with Divine and Human about 8 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long), I was very pleased. We both had a laugh that it was Tolstoy and yet so short. So, I figured it was a good source of Russian Lit to cut my teeth on. This is Tolstoy's collection of short stories and essays mostly having to do with philosophy.

Tolstoy, like most great writers, wrote during a tumultuous period in his country's history. Russia's history is much like it's literature-- long and drawn out, with beautiful nuances and harsh realities. The long and short that I gather is that a lot of what looked great on paper didn't play out too well in practice and people like Tolstoy were left wondering about their faith as well as a bushel of other pivotal questions. Many of his ideas put words to my own, surprisingly. I wonder what people think when they see me read. My eyes get huge when I run across a great point (as I search for a pen to underline the good stuff), or I snort in the funny parts. I also cry at really touching parts. (I wept like crazy through Frankenstein.) Yep, I'm THAT person. So, needless to say, I was nodding my head when I read about the man sentenced to die, and after writing a heart-felt letter to his family says,

"I need to live like I was when I wrote this letter. Because we were all sentenced to death, a long time ago, all of us, eternally-- and yet we all live. And we live with joy only when...we love. Yes, when we love. When I wrote this letter, I was in love, and I felt good. And that's how we need to live. And it's possible to live like this, everywhere and always, in prison or free, now and tomorrow, and till the very end."

At my dad's funeral, a seed of this thought was planted: what if life is truly about being a loving individual? It's definitely not about money or status or all that stuff. "You're not what's in your wallet...you're not your khaki's..." as Tyler Durden would say. I think I agree with Tolstoy...I think it's all about love.

I'll share the love if anyone's interested, since pivotal books are meant to be shared. If you'd like it, I'll send it to you. Just let me know in the comments section and I'll draw a name Sunday. :)


  1. Awesome! I've never been a fan of Russian Lit, but anyone who can quote Tyler Durden on the same page...may change my mind!

  2. I definitely agree - and being the Russophile I am, I also like Russian literature.

    I'd definitely love to borrow it!