Posts filtered by tags: Tolstoy[x]


A Fascinating Group Attempt At Understanding Tolstoy

If the “Internet novel” or “Instagram novel” are ascendant genres in today’s literary marketplace, Tolstoy Together is an impressive nonfiction cousin. It sits merrily on the fence between a type of collective criticism and a commonplace book filled to bursting with clever ruminations and quotations. – The Smart Set
Tags: Art, Words, Tolstoy

"No one was better at stringing out a joke between its setup and its punch line. The purest instance of the skill might be his famous 'moth' routine..."

"... in which he took a lame stock joke ('A moth goes into a podiatrist’s office . . .') and, by delivery alone, built a three-minute meta-gag on top of it, working his audience all the way. We weren’t far into our interview when I realized I had made the rookie mistake of taking Macdonald’s deadbeat persona as his real world view. It was and wasn’t. Early on, he charmed me by noting, in an offhand way, that he’d needed glasses all his life but, after losing his first childhood pairs, stopped b...
Tags: Comedy, Law, Nathan Heller, Norm Macdonald, Tolstoy, Conan O'brien, MacDonald, Ann Althouse, Eyeglasses, Tolstoy From Norm Macdonald

In praise of Donald Newlove

I was knocked out on first reading of Sweet Adversity (1978), by Donald Newlove, who died Aug. 17 at age 93. It’s about co-joined twins who love Louis Armstrong, play jazz in the 1930s and arrive New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1960s, where one of them sobers up. Besides the unique story, it’s the novel’s language that dazzles — intricate, high-spirited sentences that conjured unusual images and ringing perceptions in a continuous, unpredictable stream. It’s hilarious, delirious...
Tags: Amazon, Art, New York, Congo, Leo, Harrison Ford, Anthony Burgess, Jack, Kerouac, Louis Armstrong, Ajblogs, Tolstoy, Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, Kirkus Reviews, Joyce


This is one of those posts that will hardly be of interest to anyone but myself, but I’ve spent all morning untangling this knot of names, and by gad I’m going to set it down for posterity (meaning primarily me in the future, when I will have forgotten it all). Those not interested in obscure dialect forms of bygone village harvest festivals with Orthodox religious overtones can skip it with no FOMO. When I first learned of the existence of Vasily Ivanovich Aksyonov, I was intensely irritated. ...
Tags: Google, Wikipedia, Uncategorized, Linguistics, Leo, Tolstoy, Virgin Mary, Pushkin, Petersburg, Tsvetkov, Marija, Aksyonov, Ivanovs, Vasily Aksyonov, Vasily Ivanovich Aksyonov, Vasily Yalansky

In Defense of Fiction: Christian Love for Great Literature

ABSTRACT: With so many valuable nonfiction books available to Christians, many wonder if reading fiction is worth the time. Others view fiction as a form of escapism, a flight from reality and the world of responsibility. But rightly understood, reading fiction clarifies rather than obscures reality. The subject of literature is life, and the best writers offer a portrait of human experience that awakens us to the real world. Fiction tells the truth in ways nonfiction never could, even as it del...
Tags: New York, Religion, Cambridge, Charles Dickens, Jesus, Christian, Francis Bacon, Calvin, Leo Tolstoy, Crete, James, Puritans, Tolstoy, Wheaton College, George Macdonald, Lewis

Surprisingly modern lessons from classic Russian literature

Russian literature has a knack for precisely capturing and describing the human condition.Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn are among the greatest writers who ever lived.If you want to be a wiser person, spend time with the great Russian novelists. In Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1864 novella Notes from Underground, an unnamed narrator asks the following question: "What can be expected of man since he is a being endowed with strange qualities?" The answer: "Even if man were not...
Tags: Russia, New York Times, Paris, Innovation, Literature, Philosophy, Siberia, Nazi, Karl Marx, University Of Virginia, Joseph Stalin, Leo Tolstoy, Sigmund Freud, St Petersburg, Napoleon, Vladimir Lenin

Ibsen and Turgenev.

Morten Høi Jensen’s NYRB review of a biography of Ibsen (Ivo de Figueiredo’s Henrik Ibsen: The Man and the Mask, translated from the Norwegian by Robert Ferguson) opens with a couple of good anecdotes: […] As many critics have noted, there’s more than a little of Ibsen in Rubek [from When We Dead Awaken]. In 1891 he too returned to Norway, having spent nearly three decades living abroad. And like Rubek, he was by then world famous; his plays sold hundreds of thousands of copies and were performe...
Tags: Europe, Uncategorized, Rome, Munich, United States, Linguistics, Norway, Henrik Ibsen, Oslo, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, Isaiah Berlin, KNUT HAMSUN, Ivan Turgenev, NYRB

The Terminator threatens Ledecky’s bid for Olympic gold record

TOKYO >> Tolstoy once said, “Art is a microscope.” So it is fitting that Australia’s 24/7 obsession with global aquatic success is chronicled by the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra with an exhibition titled “Swimming & Australian Identity.” The exhibit details the sport’s hold on Australia from the 1800s through Dawn Fraser’s Olympic glory days in the 1960s to the 21st Century success of Ian Thorpe, known to his countrymen as the “Thorpedo.” Australia’s latest idol, Ariarne Titmus, also co...
Tags: South Korea, Usa, London, Nbc, Australia, Sports, Sport, Soccer, Olympics, Italy, Tokyo, Rio De Janeiro, Canberra, Pellegrini, Steve, National Portrait Gallery

"Normally I buy the Audible package, sync up and try to quell waves of panic that I’m not better-read in key areas."

"The most recent went, like, 'Ahhh, I’ve barely read any Russian literature!' Though I was a Kafka nut as a teenager. So now I’m halfway through Maggie Gyllenhaal’s reading of 'Anna Karenina.' Which is long."From (NYT). Here's that audiobook of "Anna Karenina." Listen to the sample before you spring for it. Famous actors are not necessarily the best book narrators. I was just saying I couldn't listen to Jennifer Jason Leigh narrating "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." American actresses tend to ...
Tags: Audiobooks, Law, Hosiery, Reading, Queens, Homosexuality, Madonna, Woody Allen, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kafka, Annie Hall, Tolstoy, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ronan, Woody, Anna Karenina

Bunin’s Bad Grass.

I’m about two-thirds of the way through Sokolov’s Между собакой и волком (Between Dog and Wolf); it’s both a delight and a real slog to read — I keep switching between text, translation, Ostanin’s annotations, dictionaries, and computer to look up things that aren’t in any of the books — and after each chapter I take a break to read other stuff so I don’t get too frustrated to continue. I usually turn to Bunin, simply because I never get tired of reading him, and the other day I reread Худая тр...
Tags: Uncategorized, San Francisco, Linguistics, Tolstoy, Wolf, Chekhov, Sokolov, Bunin, Ivan Ilyich, Rasputin, Ivan Bunin, Serge Kryzytski, Averky

Podcast #616: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

Editor’s Note: This is a rebroadcast. It originally aired June 2020. One of the most burning questions in life is what it is you’re called to do with it. What is your life’s purpose? What great work are you meant to do? Guidance on this question can come from many sources, and my guest today says that one of the best is the Bhagavad Gita, a text of Hindu scripture thousands of years old. He’s a psychotherapist, yoga teacher, and author of The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey t...
Tags: Apple, Podcast, England, New York, Life, Advice, India, New York City, America, Rome, Harvard, West, Canada, United States, South Africa, Paris

Morson on the Soul of Russian Literature.

I’ve quoted Gary Saul Morson a lot here; I’m doing it again, I’ll do so in the future, and I make no apologies — he’s one of the few writers on literature and culture who pretty much always gets it right, and this interview from the NYRB newsletter is worth quoting in extenso (the introduction includes this striking bit of backstory: “Born in the Bronx, Morson had initially planned to study French, but due to a blizzard he arrived late for his entrance exam and failed it, leading him to take Rus...
Tags: Nazis, Russia, Uncategorized, Linguistics, Customs, Communist Party, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Levin, Pierre, Dostoevsky, Anna Karenina, Margarita, Grossman, Gogol, Pushkin

Leskov’s Remise.

I’ve written about Nikolai Leskov frequently (e.g. The Sealed Angel, The Enchanted Wanderer), and now I’ve read the last of his major works, Заячий ремиз, written in 1894 but not published until 1917. Leskov sent it around to journals with a cover letter saying it dealt with some touchy issues but they were well disguised by madness and Ukrainian hijinks so it should pass the censors, but the 1890s were one of the more repressive periods in tsarist Russia, so nobody was willing to try to print ...
Tags: Russia, Uncategorized, Linguistics, Tolstoy, OCS, Mirsky, Pisemsky, Nikolai Leskov, Olya, Khlebnikov, Niva, Leskov, Aleksei Remizov, Remizov, Sperrle, Erik McDonald of XIX век

What I Read in April: Part 1

Time for another quick round-up of the books I've read and listened to lately. I finished 16 books in April, most of them audiobooks. Why so many books? I spent the month doing some major paper shredding and cleaning out a storage room. All that gave me hours of good listening time! Here is part 1 of what I read last month, in the order I finished each book (part 2 will go live on Thursday). Note that the following thoughts are also available on Goodreads. Thanks to the publishers and to Libro....
Tags: Books, Florida, London, Australia, California, Nigeria, United States, Connecticut, Paris, Manhattan, Jane Austen, Anna, Mitchell, Thompson, Billy, Tolstoy

Favorable Conditions Never Come

In a sermon delivered at the height of World War Two, a period awash in distraction and despair, C.S. Lewis delivered a powerful claim about the cultivation of a deep life: “We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want know...
Tags: College, Uncategorized, Tolstoy, Lewis, Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Anna Karenina, Elkhorn, Little Missouri River, Bill Seward, Wilmot Dow Roosevelt

Fromm and Maccoby on Cultural Stimuli

In our discussion thus far we have paid little attention to the problem of the happiness of the peasant. In fact, we have stressed the economic advantage of the productive orientation, but said little of the subjective factor of satisfaction and contentment. In order to understand this problem better, we must have in mind the important fact, mentioned in Chapter 5, that the village is a cultural and spiritual desert. The values which existed for the precapitalistic peasant, and which Tawney ha...
Tags: Art, Europe, Florida, Mexico, Outreach, Culture, Jazz, Grimm, Tolstoy, Psychoanalysis, Erich Fromm, Stefan Kac, Fromm, Tawney, Tepoztlan, Maccoby

Helen McCrory: ‘How should a woman live her life?’

In 2000, the actor Helen McCrory, who has died aged 52, wrote for the Guardian about her role in Anna Karenina and modern life as a womanHow should a woman live her life? Survive to the age of 70, fearfully, being as everyone else instructs her to be? Or play the heroine, passionately, in the knowledge that trying and failing need not equal defeat?This is the timeless conundrum Tolstoy’s vivid heroine, Anna Karenina, took on, long before it became fashionable to discuss the conflict of desire an...
Tags: Culture, Anna, Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Helen McCrory

Don’t Give Away Too Much Too Soon – A Letter to the Midwest

April 15, 2021 Lovettsville VA Dear Scott, Spring! Etc. etc. What a relief.  I am torn between feeling overwhelmed each morning, and tearful gratitude. However, finding a new colony of native may apples where I winter-dispatched a thicket of multiflora rose may have soundly tipped the scales towards gratitude. Those mottled, delicate umbrellas took me by total surprise this morning – especially as they appeared to have been professionally underplanted with a carpet of claytonia. Try not to pay ...
Tags: Facebook, Gardening, Cuba, Tolkien, Charlotte, Tolstoy, Midwest, Weber, Don, Lloyd, Michele, Dan Hinkley, Tropical Plants, John Willis, Windcliff, Dear Gardener

McWhorter on P&V.

John McWhorter goes into detail on why he can’t stand the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace, and it’s music to my ears: It bears mentioning, then, that for whatever it’s worth, I read (although do not speak) Russian well, and more to the point, have run my observations here past a native Russian speaker whose English is excellent-plus and has worked in the past as an interpreter and done translation. That person added insights of their own that I had not caught – and agrees with me...
Tags: Uncategorized, Linguistics, Tolstoy, Erik, John McWhorter, Erik McDonald, McWhorter, Pevear, Volokhonsky, Pevear Volokhonsky

JFK and the President as the “Decider”

For the Symposium on Martin J. Sherwin, Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis (Knopf, 2020).             I begin with an anecdote of sorts:  In October 1962, I was a first-year graduate student at Harvard, in the department of government.  My aspiration at the time was to become a “defense intellectual”; I had written my senior thesis at Duke on aspects of nuclear deterrence theory, and one of my heroes, from afar, was Morton Halperin, who at t...
Tags: Europe, New York, Congress, Washington, White House, America, Turkey, Harvard, Vienna, Munich, Gop, United States, Nato, Nelson Rockefeller, Korea, John F Kennedy

School for Fools.

A few times in my life I’ve encountered works that stopped me in my tracks and made me say “Wait, you can do that?” I vividly remember my first experiences of Godard, Ezra Pound, Thomas Pynchon; they completely changed my ideas of movies, poetry, and the novel respectively. The last couple of weeks have been like that. I spent a week and a half reading Sasha Sokolov’s first novel, Школа для дураков (1976), translated (not very well) by Carl Proffer the following year as A School for Fools — I...
Tags: Uncategorized, Linguistics, Pegasus, Ussr, Stalin, Tolstoy, Tennyson, Soviet Union, Gorky, Joyce, Pynchon, Ostrovsky, Sokolov, New York Review Books, Aksenov, Sasha Sokolov

Christopher Plummer remembered: 'It was a privilege to stand so close to greatness'

Michael Hoffman, who directed Plummer and Helen Mirren in Tolstoy biopic The Last Station, recalls the actors’ joyful connection and how Plummer turned the script into goldChristopher Plummer: a fierce yet tender talent who flourished when he was let off the leashI had been warned not to mention The Sound of Music. This was not going to be easy since, when I was aged six, during a Sunday matinee at the Pinney theatre in Boise, Idaho, I had learned, as Captain von Trapp led his family across the ...
Tags: Film, Culture, Alps, Mayfair, Helen Mirren, Leo Tolstoy, Tolstoy, BOISE Idaho, Michael Hoffman, Christopher Plummer, Plummer, Von Trapp, Pinney, The Sound of Music

Russian Literature Read by Mongolians.

Bathrobe sent me links to two Facebook posts by Christopher Atwood; if you’re on FB you can read all the replies, but you can get the basic idea from the texts of the posts, which I will reproduce here: 1) Russian literature has had a big influence on modern Mongolian literature. In your opinion (and I’m specially interested in those who were educated in Mongolia), what are the three most important works of Russian literature that you need to know in order to understand Mongolian literature? In...
Tags: Facebook, Uncategorized, Linguistics, Mongolia, Tolstoy, Gorky, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Sholokhov, Nabokov, Pushkin, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Sokolov, Sasha Sokolov, Elena Kravchenko

Projects vs. Tasks: A Critical Distinction in Productive Scheduling

In a recent episode of my podcast, an Australian doctor named Nathan asked an interesting question regarding some difficulties he had maintaining and organizing his task list: “David Allen asked ‘Is it actionable?’; separating tasks from ideas. But I also find that there are different types of tasks. The easiest to deal with are what I’m taking to calling ‘concrete’ tasks, such as taking out the rubbish, or submitting a final report. These are defined, necessary tasks that are cognitively easy t...
Tags: College, Uncategorized, Tolstoy, Truman, Nathan, David Allen, Dean Acheson, Diana Sample

Is War and Peace worth reading? A review

Tolstoy's War and Peace is over 1,300 pages long. I've not read it. James Wallace Harris recently finished it, and I enjoyed his essay about having read it. Overall, he feels the rewards were worth the effort. His chief complaint (which seems to be shared by a lot of readers) is that it was hard to keep track of all characters. — Read the rest
Tags: Post, News, Tolstoy, 19th Century, James Wallace Harris, Russian Novels

Highland 2 is very fast on the new Macs

Highland 2.9 runs natively on Apple’s speedy new M1 processor, the chip in its latest Macs. Naturally, we wanted to see how much faster it runs on the new hardware. The challenge is that Highland 2 is already very, very fast. It’s hard to find an operation that takes long enough to measure with a stopwatch. So we went back to an earlier challenge, looking at how long it takes to open Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Weighing in at more than 500,000 words, this plain text document is 4,132 pages long w...
Tags: Apple, Apps, Microsoft, Highland, Tolstoy, Screenwriting, Intel MacBook Air

10 (Non-Religious) Books to Get Into the Devotional Reading Habit

Each day, too, acquire something which will help you to face poverty, or death, and other ills as well. After running over a lot of different thoughts, pick out one to be digested thoroughly that day. —Seneca  Today, we largely associate daily “devotionals” — short, reflection-spurring texts — with religious scriptures and faith-themed books which feature musings, challenges, and brief bits of inspiration for each day of the year.  But as Seneca proves above, for millennia, devotional-type...
Tags: Books, Life, Habits, Travel & leisure, Philosophy, Jordan, Routines, Leo Tolstoy, Personal Development, Aristotle, Tolstoy, Abraham Lincoln, Henry David Thoreau, Kyle, Brett, Emerson


I'll be virtually visiting your book festival tomorrow to talk about my book, War and Peace. No, wait, that's Tolstoy. I'll be talking about Lessons From Lucy. Tolstoy is doing the Festival Thursday.
Tags: Tolstoy, Savannah, Lucy Tolstoy

Lear Lite

Shakespeare’s writing — all of it, poetry and plays — was repulsive to Tolstoy, who claimed in a pamphlet that whenever he read Shakespeare he was overcome by “repulsion, weariness, and bewilderment.” Orwell disagreed mightily: “Finally the most striking thing is how little difference it all makes.” – Jan Herman
Tags: Art, Shakespeare, Orwell, Ajblogs, Tolstoy, 10.26.20, Lear Lite

Will reading Tolstoy make you a better doctor?

In an increasingly technology-oriented world, genuine human connection is becoming rarer. Physicians are taught to emotionally disassociate from their patients for mental self-protection. This detachment can result in a loss of human connection between a doctor and patient, which may interfere with patient health outcomes. Studying great literature, such as Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan […] Find jobs at Careers by Search thousands of physician, PA, NP, and CRNA jobs now. Learn more. ...
Tags: Health, Education, Tolstoy, Ivan, Medical School, PA NP, CRNA