Edited with an introduction by Jay Parini.
Translations by Aylmer Maude, Leo Wiener and R G Christian.
'I think our life here has meaning only when we live in accordance with the commandment to love one another'
This new selection brings together the pivotal writings – essays, diaries and letters – from Tolstoy's turbulent later years, when he became increasingly tortured by personal and spiritual crises. It includes A Confession (1884) and other pieces in which he expressed his unorthodox version of Christianity, which eventually led to his excommunication by the Church. Here too are essays championing social justice, pacifism and various moral causes, including 'The First Step', a defense of vegetarianism; writings on aesthetic issues – such as 'What is Art?' (1896), a passionate argument that art must express ethical values – as well the famous, controversial 'Shakespeare and the Drama' (1906). Together these pieces show the force and fervour of Tolstoy's late writing to the full, shedding new light on his life and work during the last three decades.
This volume is edited by Jay Parini, author of The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Final Year, with an introduction placing the works of Tolstoy's final decades in their biographical and literary context.