What makes it so dark is its extreme truthfulness. Tolstoy does not flinch at the places that we, as writers and readers, reflexively agree to cloak.
Serving on a jury at the trial of a prostitute arrested for murder, Prince Nekhlyudov is horrified to discover that the accused is a woman he had once loved, seduced and then abandoned when she was a young servant girl. Racked with guilt at realizing he was the cause of her ruin, he determines to appeal for her release or give up his own way of life and follow her. Conceived on an epic scale, Resurrection portrays a vast panorama of Russian life, taking us from the underworld of prison cells and warders to the palaces of countesses. It is also an angry denunciation of government, the upper classes, the judicial system and the Church, and a highly personal statement of Tolstoy's belief in human redemption.
Count Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828, in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Orphaned at nine, he was brought up by an elderly aunt and educated by French tutors until he matriculated at Kazan University in 1844. In 1847, he gave up his studies and, after several aimless years, volunteered for military duty in the army, serving as a junior officer in the Crimean War before retiring in 1857. In 1862, Tolstoy married Sophie Behrs, a marriage that was to become, for him, bitterly unhappy. His diary, started in 1847, was used for self-study and self-criticism; it served as the source from which he drew much of the material that appeared not only in his great novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), but also in his shorter works. Seeking religious justification for his life, Tolstoy evolved a new Christianity based upon his own interpretation of the Gospels. Yasnaya Polyana became a mecca for his many converts At the age of eighty-two, while away from home, the writer suffered a break down in his health in Astapovo, Riazan, and he died there on November 20, 1910.