Leo Tolstoy Archive
Source: Original Text from Gutenberg.org
Transcription/Markup: Andy Carloff
Online Source: RevoltLib.com; 2021
Whom dost thou love best? say, enigmatical man—thy father, thy mother, thy brother, or thy sister?
“I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother.”
“You there use an expression the meaning of which till now remains unknown to me.”
“I ignore in what latitude it is situated.”
“I would gladly love her, goddess and immortal.”
“I hate it as you hate God.”
Then what do you love, extraordinary stranger?
“I love the clouds ... the clouds that pass ... there ... the marvelous clouds!”
My beloved little silly was giving me my dinner, and I was contemplating, through the open window of the dining-room, those moving architectures which God makes out of vapors, the marvelous constructions of the impalpable. And I said to myself, amid my contemplations, “All these phantasmagoria are almost as beautiful as the eyes of my beautiful beloved, the monstrous little silly with the green eyes.”
Suddenly I felt the violent blow of a fist on my back, and I heard a harsh, charming voice, an hysterical voice, as it were hoarse with brandy, the voice of my dear little well-beloved, saying, “Are you going to eat your soup soon, you d—— b—— of a dealer in clouds?”
As the carriage was passing through the forest, he ordered it to be stopped near a shooting-gallery, saying that he wished to shoot off a few bullets to kill Time. To kill this monster, is it not the most ordinary and the most legitimate occupation of everyone? And he gallantly offered his arm to his dear, delicious, and execrable wife—that mysterious woman to whom he owed so much pleasure, so much pain, and perhaps also a large part of his genius.
Several bullets struck far from the intended mark—one even penetrated the ceiling; and as the charming creature laughed madly, mocking her husband’s awkwardness, he turned abruptly towards her and said, “Look at that doll there on the right with the haughty mien and her nose in the air; well, dear angel, I imagine to myself that it is you!” And he closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. The doll was neatly decapitated.
Then, bowing towards his dear one, his delightful, execrable wife, his inevitable, pitiless muse, and kissing her hand respectfully, he added, “Ah! my dear angel, how I thank you for my skill!”
PRINTED BY MORRISON AND GIBB LIMITED, EDINBURGH
1. Bolton Hall has recently published a little work, Life, and Love, and Death, with the object of making the philosophy contained in On Life more easily accessible in English.
2. Tolstoy’s remarks on Church religion were re-worded so as to seem to relate only to the Western Church, and his disapproval of luxurious life was made to apply not, say, to Queen Victoria or Nicholas II., but to the Cæsars or the Pharaohs.—Trans.
3. The Russian peasant is usually a member of a village commune, and has therefore a right to a share in the land belonging to the village. Tolstoy disapproves of the order of society which allows less land for the support of a whole village full of people than is sometimes owned by a single landed proprietor. The “Censor” will not allow disapproval of this state of things to be expressed, but is prepared to admit that the laws and customs, say, of England—where a yet more extreme form of landed property exists, and the men who actually labor on the land usually possess none of it—deserve criticism.—Trans.
4. Only two, or at most three, senses are generally held worthy to supply matter for artistic treatment, but I think this opinion is only conditionally correct. I will not lay too much stress on the fact that our common speech recognizes many other arts, as, for instance, the art of cookery.
5. And yet it is certainly an æsthetic achievement when the art of cooking succeeds in making of an animal’s corpse an object in all respects tasteful. The principle of the Art of Taste (which goes beyond the so-called Art of Cookery) is therefore this: All that is eatable should be treated as the symbol of some Idea, and always in harmony with the Idea to be expressed.
6. If the sense of touch lacks color, it gives us, on the other hand, a notion which the eye alone cannot afford, and one of considerable æsthetic value, namely, that of softness, silkiness, polish. The beauty of velvet is characterized not less by its softness to the touch than by its luster. In the idea we form of a woman’s beauty, the softness of her skin enters as an essential element.
Each of us probably, with a little attention, can recall pleasures of taste which have been real æsthetic pleasures.
7. M. Schasler, Kritische Geschichte der Aesthetik, 1872, vol. i. p. 13.
8. There is no science which more than æsthetics has been handed over to the reveries of the metaphysicians. From Plato down to the received doctrines of our day, people have made of art a strange amalgam of quintessential fancies and transcendental mysteries, which find their supreme expression in the conception of an absolute ideal Beauty, immutable and divine prototype of actual things.
9. See on this matter Benard’s admirable book, L’esthétique d’Aristote, also Walter’s Geschichte der Aesthetik im Altertum.
10. Schasler, p. 361.
11. Schasler, p. 369.
12. Schasler, pp. 388-390.
13. Knight, Philosophy of the Beautiful, i. pp. 165, 166.
14. Schasler, p. 289. Knight, pp. 168, 169.
15. R. Kralik, Weltschönheit, Versuch einer allgemeinen Aesthetik, pp. 304-306.
16. Knight, p. 101.
17. Schasler, p. 316.
18. Knight, pp. 102-104.
19. R. Kralik, p. 124.
20. Spaletti, Schasler, p. 328.
21. Schasler, pp. 331-333.
22. Schasler, pp. 525-528.
23. Knight, pp. 61-63.
24. Schasler, pp. 740-743.
25. Schasler, pp. 769-771.
26. Schasler, pp. 786, 787.
27. Kralik, p. 148.
28. Kralik, p. 820.
29. Schasler, pp. 828, 829, 834-841.
30. Schasler, p. 891.
31. Schasler, p. 917.
32. Schasler, pp. 946, 1085, 984, 985, 990.
33. Schasler, pp. 966, 655, 956.
34. Schasler, p. 1017.
35. Schasler, pp. 1065, 1066.
36. Schasler, pp. 1097-1100.
37. Schasler, pp. 1124, 1107.
38. Knight, pp. 81, 82.
39. Knight, p. 83.
40. Schasler, p. 1121.
41. Knight, pp. 85, 86.
42. Knight, p. 88.
43. Knight, p. 88.
44. Knight, p. 112.
45. Knight, p. 116.
46. Knight, pp. 118, 119.
47. Knight, pp. 123, 124.
48. La philosophie en France, p. 232.
49. Du fondement de l’induction.
50. Philosophie de l’art, vol. i. 1893, p. 47.
51. Knight, p. 139-141.
52. Knight, pp. 134.
53. L’esthétique, p. 106.
54. Knight, p. 238.
55. Knight, pp. 239, 240.
56. Knight, pp. 240-243.
57. Knight, pp. 250-252.
58. Knight, pp. 258, 259.
59. Knight, p. 243.
60. “The foundling of Nuremberg,” found in the market-place of that town on 26th May 1828, apparently some sixteen years old. He spoke little, and was almost totally ignorant even of common objects. He subsequently explained that he had been brought up in confinement underground, and visited by only one man, whom he saw but seldom.—Trans.
61. Eastern sects well known in early Church history, who rejected the Church’s rendering of Christ’s teaching and were cruelly persecuted.—Trans.
62. Keltchitsky, a Bohemian of the fifteenth century, was the author of a remarkable book, The Net of Faith, directed against Church and State. It is mentioned in Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within You.—Trans.
63. Any one examining closely may see that the theory of beauty and that of art are quite separated in Aristotle as they are in Plato and in all their successors.
64. Die Lücke von fünf Jahrhunderten, welche zwischen den Kunstphilosophischen Betrachtungen des Plato und Aristoteles und die des Plotins fällt, kann zwar auffällig erscheinen; dennoch kann man eigentlich nicht sagen, dass in dieser Zwischenzeit überhaupt von ästhetischen Dingen nicht die Rede gewesen; oder dass gar ein völliger Mangel an Zusammenhang zwischen den Kunst-anscliauungen des letztgenannten Philosophen und denen der ersteren existire. Freilich wurde die von Aristoteles begründete Wissenschaft in Nichts dadurch gefördert; immerhin aber zeigt sich in jener Zwischenzeit noch ein gewisses Interesse für ästhetische Fragen. Nach Plotin aber, die wenigen, ihm in der Zeit nahestehenden Philosophen, wie Longin, Augustin, u. s. f. kommen, wie wir gesehen, kaum in Betracht und schliessen sich übrigens in ihrer Anschauungsweise an ihn an,—vergehen nicht fünf, sondern fünfzehn Jahrhunderte, in denen von irgend einer wissenschaftlichen Interesse für die Welt des Schönen und der Kunst nichts zu spüern ist.
Diese anderthalbtausend Jahre, innerhalb deren der Weltgeist durch die mannigfachsten Kämpfe hindurch zu einer völlig neuen Gestaltung des Lebens sich durcharbeitete, sind für die Aesthetik, hinsichtlich des weiteren Ausbaus dieser Wissenschaft verloren.—Max Schasler.
65. The contrast made is between the classes and the masses: between those who do not and those who do earn their bread by productive manual labor; the middle classes being taken as an offshoot of the upper classes.—Trans.
66. Dueling is still customary among the higher circles in Russia, as in other Continental countries.—Trans.
67. It is the weariness of life, contempt for the present epoch, regret for another age seen through the illusion of art, a taste for paradox, a desire to be singular, a sentimental aspiration after simplicity, an infantine adoration of the marvelous, a sickly tendency towards reverie, a shattered condition of nerves, and, above all, the exasperated demand of sensuality.
69. I think there should be nothing but allusions. The contemplation of objects, the flying image of reveries evoked by them, are the song. The Parnassiens state the thing completely, and show it, and thereby lack mystery; they deprive the mind of that delicious joy of imagining that it creates. To name an object is to take three-quarters from the enjoyment of the poem, which consists in the happiness of guessing little by little: to suggest, that is the dream. It is the perfect use of this mystery that constitutes the symbol: little by little, to evoke an object in order to show a state of the soul; or inversely, to choose an object, and from it to disengage a state of the soul by a series of decipherings.
... If a being of mediocre intelligence and insufficient literary preparation chance to open a book made in this way and pretends to enjoy it, there is a misunderstanding—things must be returned to their places. There should always be an enigma in poetry, and the aim of literature—it has no other—is to evoke objects.
70. It were time also to have done with this famous “theory of obscurity,” which the new school have practically raised to the height of a dogma.