What to Do? by Leo Tolstoy

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Translator's Note

Books which are prohibited by the Russian Censor are not always inaccessible. An enterprising publishing-house in Geneva makes a specialty of supplying the natural craving of man for forbidden fruit, under which heading some of Count Leo N. Tolstoy's essays belong. These essays circulate in Russia in manuscript; and it is from one of these manuscripts, which fell into the hands of the Geneva firm, that the first half of the present translation has been made. It is thus that the Censor's omissions have been noted, even in cases where such omissions are in no way indicated in the twelfth volume of Count Tolstoy's collected works, published in Moscow. As an interesting detail in this connection, I may mention that this twelfth volume contains all that the censor allows of "My Religion," amounting to a very much abridged scrap of Chapter X in the last-named volume as known to the public outside of Russia. The last half of the present book has not been published by the Geneva house, and omissions cannot be marked.

-- Isabel F. Hapgood
Boston, Sept. 1, 1887


About Leo Tolstoy

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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.
Published March 24, 2011 by W. Scott. 302 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for What to Do?

The New Yorker

DAVID REMNICK I can’t let 2009 pass into memory without mentioning John Updike, who died earlier this year. I’ve been reading him since adolescence, so it was always an immensely moving thing to me that I one day could call...DAVID REMNICK I can’t let 2009 pass into memory without mentioning John...

Dec 17 2009 | Read Full Review of What to Do?

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