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A Confession (best Translation, explanatory Notes, complete Navigation, Illustrated) (Best Russian Classics)

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This is a Kindle edition that includes notes prepared by Russian literary scholars. They explain terms, names, places, and other details related to Tolstoy's personal life and Russian cultural background. Some of them are illustrated. Excellent navigation tools let you effortlessly use the contents of the book and its appendix.


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This is a Kindle edition that includes notes prepared by Russian literary scholars. They explain terms, names, places, and other details related to Tolstoy's personal life and Russian cultural background. Some of them are illustrated. Excellent navigation tools let you effortlessly use the contents of the book and its appendix.

30 review for A Confession (best Translation, explanatory Notes, complete Navigation, Illustrated) (Best Russian Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Исповедь = Meine Beichte = A confession and other religious writings, Leo Tolstoy Describing Tolstoy's crisis of depression and estrangement from the world, A Confession (1879) is an autobiographical work of exceptional emotional honesty. By the time he was fifty, Tolstoy had already written the novels that would assure him of literary immortality; he had a wife, a large estate and numerous children; he was "a happy man" and in good health - yet life had lost its meaning. In this poignant confes Исповедь = Meine Beichte = A confession and other religious writings, Leo Tolstoy Describing Tolstoy's crisis of depression and estrangement from the world, A Confession (1879) is an autobiographical work of exceptional emotional honesty. By the time he was fifty, Tolstoy had already written the novels that would assure him of literary immortality; he had a wife, a large estate and numerous children; he was "a happy man" and in good health - yet life had lost its meaning. In this poignant confessional fragment, he records a period of his life when he began to turn away from fiction and aesthetics, and to search instead for "a practical religion not promising future bliss, but giving bliss on earth". تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز هشتم ماه آگوست سال 2013 میلادی عنوان: اعتراف؛ نویسنده: لئو تولستوی؛ مقدمه: سعید نفیسی؛ مترجم: هوشنگ فتح اعظم؛ تهران، دانشگاه تهران، 1328؛ در 230 ص؛ چاپ دوم: اداره مطبوعاتی پروین، موضوع: نوشتارهای نویسندگان روسیه - سده 19 م عنوان: اعترافات من؛ لئو تولستوی؛ مترجم: سعید فیروزآبادی؛ تهران، جامی، 1386؛ در 167 ص؛ شابک: 9789647468947؛ عنوان: اعتراف؛ نویسنده: لئو تولستوی؛ برگردان: نسرین مجیدی؛ تهران، روزگارنو، 1392؛ در 104 ص؛ شابک: 9786006867458؛ کتاب غیرداستانی «اعتراف من»، اثر «تولستوی»، در حوزه ی فلسفه، و تفکر فلسفی است. ترجمه ی جناب آقای «سعید فیروزآبادی»، نخستین بار در سال 1386 هجری خورشیدی منتشر شد، و به گفته مترجم: (در «جام جم آنلاین» روز پنجشنبه 17 ماه مرداد 1392 هجری خورشیدی در صفحه فرهنگ و سینما)، کتاب از سوی «ارشاد» خریداری شد، ولی در بازار توزیع نشد. ترجمه ی ایشان نیز اخیرا با ویراستی دیگر، از سوی نشر جامی چاپ و عرضه شده است. ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    brian

    in his 50's, a severely panicked and depressed tolstoy wished for the strength to kill himself, but couldn't do it. instead he wrote this book detailing his discovery that life is 'evil and meaningless'. the first half is simply astonishing: i can't recall reading a more honest description of a life lived under the shadow of the inevitability of death; much less from a man who was, at the time, one of the world's most famous people. tolstoy's Confession is staggering in its simplicity, which is in his 50's, a severely panicked and depressed tolstoy wished for the strength to kill himself, but couldn't do it. instead he wrote this book detailing his discovery that life is 'evil and meaningless'. the first half is simply astonishing: i can't recall reading a more honest description of a life lived under the shadow of the inevitability of death; much less from a man who was, at the time, one of the world's most famous people. tolstoy's Confession is staggering in its simplicity, which is partially the point: talk to the scientists, the philosophers, the holy men, and the artists... none can give the answers that a slow eight year old couldn't give regarding the answers to the most basic questions: "why are we here?" "what is the meaning of life?" -- in the second section, the bearded coot describes his movement towards religion and, oops!, discovery that the church was horribly hypocritical... i may disagree with the conclusions tolstoy arrived at, but that's irrelevant... truth be told, in this lifetime (and this certainly plagued ol' leo) we'll never know if christopher hitchens or jerry falwell holds the secrets of the universe. sigh... a sad state of affairs. as one seriously afflicted with existential panic myself, it eases the pain, if only a little bit, to read this and know that, at the very least, we're all linked by fear and uncertainty and questions... read this. tolstoy's stunning honesty, his acute powers of observation, and obvious skills as a novelist makes this book a classic of sorts...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark André

    An interesting little book. Unhappy with just being brilliant, famous and wealthy the author narrates the story of his personal quest to find the truth about existence: the point to being alive, and the correct way to happiness. First he challenges science and philosophy for answers. Then he contemplates suicide. Then he turns to the simplicity of the animals as he calls them, the peasants in the fields, and turns back to God and the church of his childhood. But once there he must challenge the An interesting little book. Unhappy with just being brilliant, famous and wealthy the author narrates the story of his personal quest to find the truth about existence: the point to being alive, and the correct way to happiness. First he challenges science and philosophy for answers. Then he contemplates suicide. Then he turns to the simplicity of the animals as he calls them, the peasants in the fields, and turns back to God and the church of his childhood. But once there he must challenge the authenticity of organized religions' manifest intolerances for each other, and decides he must now study all the scriptures, and promises another book which I have not seen. A very honest effort.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Piyangie

    I'm not quite sure how to write a review for this nakedly honest disclosure of the mid life spiritual crisis of one of the greatest literary giants. This short work really left me stunned and it took some time to quiet my mind enough to pen my thoughts. In the first part of the story, Tolstoy explains his frustration (which ultimately shapes in to depression) over not understanding the meaning of life. He resorts to science, philosophy, metaphysics and religious practices to learn the true meani I'm not quite sure how to write a review for this nakedly honest disclosure of the mid life spiritual crisis of one of the greatest literary giants. This short work really left me stunned and it took some time to quiet my mind enough to pen my thoughts. In the first part of the story, Tolstoy explains his frustration (which ultimately shapes in to depression) over not understanding the meaning of life. He resorts to science, philosophy, metaphysics and religious practices to learn the true meaning of life. But at every quarter he is disappointed. Having not found the clear answer to his question and seeing the suffering and death as inevitable and thinking there is nothing but darkness ahead, he contemplates suicide. But although he contemplates suicide, he never attempts at it and calls it cowardly (I disagree with him there). In very plain words he describes how he avoided every opportunity and every temptation by distancing himself from everything with which he could harm himself. The second part of the story describes the methods to which he ultimately resorts to find a comprehensible answer to his question on the meaning of life. In this part, Tolstoy describes how the Christian teachings (separate from Christian traditional practices of Orthodox Church) helped him to answer the question. This genuine and honest account was really heart wrenching. I just couldn't believe that I was reading the tortured mind of one of the most successful and revered authors of all time. This was the literary giant who wrote two great masterpieces that continue to awe its readers. And honestly I had a hard time accepting that the same genius mind was tortured to this extent after writing all those great masterpieces. At the same time I felt a closeness to him. Some years ago, I had a personal crisis in my life that forced me to seek "truth" in life in order to find solace. I'm of a different faith, but that is immaterial, for I too resort to my religion guided by faith that it is where the truth lies. The quest was similar although the circumstances lead to that quest differed. And although Tolstoy stops his account at his chosen path to reach his destination, it is not a secret that he did find comfort and a purpose to live for through his religious convictions. Similarly I too found my peace. Reading this true account brought some bittersweet memories but in an odd way it brought me comfort too.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hammad Ali

    Love Tolstoy but judging by this book Tolstoy would have made a horrible dinner companion (or be really really bad at small talk). "The fish is really good" Tolstoy: "It is no good deceiving oneself. It is all vanity." "So how was your day" Tolstoy: "Why does everything exist that exists, and why do I exist? Because it exists" "The weather is pretty nice today" Tolstoy: "Surely that question has been asked since man began" Overall good book, it has provided me with enough "DEEP" one liners that I c Love Tolstoy but judging by this book Tolstoy would have made a horrible dinner companion (or be really really bad at small talk). "The fish is really good" Tolstoy: "It is no good deceiving oneself. It is all vanity." "So how was your day" Tolstoy: "Why does everything exist that exists, and why do I exist? Because it exists" "The weather is pretty nice today" Tolstoy: "Surely that question has been asked since man began" Overall good book, it has provided me with enough "DEEP" one liners that I can use to sound smart for the next few years and be that guy who ruins all conversations in a social gathering. Seriously though.. I felt he ended up repeating a lot of things and then there were other things that I couldn't really comprehend(probably due to my slow brain). Also he mentions an Eastern fable in the book which is in reality attributed to Ghazali (R). I found it interesting because he uses the fable to highlight how meaningless life essentially is while Ghazali used it to highlight how our efforts and our quest to fulfill all of our desires in this world are ultimately meaningless because it is the next life that matters. Overall I felt it was the general story of a seeker. And followed the format of what other seekers go through while searching for the truth. That is 1. Questioning your inner beliefs and the meaning of your existence. 2. Abandoning religion and searching for some meaning in life. 3. Being fed up with everything around you, especially the lives of the people around you and how their minds can be possibly so busy with so many meaningless things. 4. Contemplating suicide (In an extreme case as such in Tolstoy's case) 5. Searching for meaning, any sort of meaning that can end this misery of yours and free your soul. 6. And... lastly if you're lucky and fortunate enough to end up with religion and more specifically to end up with God and the true definition of a moral life. (Though everyone's journey is different, one example that comes to my mind is of Muhammad Asad. He mentions his journey in Road to Mecca. Definitely not as miserable as this but there were some similarities) Tolstoy's journey heading towards suicide ends with this realization which ultimately saves him "I live, really live, only when I feel Him and seek Him. "What more do you seek?" exclaimed a voice within me. "This is He. He is that without which one cannot live. To know God and to live is one and the same thing. God is life" "Live seeking God, and then you will not live without God." And more than ever before, all within me and around me lit up, and the light did not again abandon me. And I was saved from suicide."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    I very much enjoyed this short novel that deals with life's struggles as it pertains with ones beliefs. Since I very much enjoy books on religion, spirituality and God, this book hit all the right buttons and then some. I could definitely feel Tolstoy's anguish and agony in trying to figure out the meaning of life. I feel we've all been there at some point in our life. This book probably isn't for everyone but, if you enjoy Tolstoy, then I encourage you to read this short novel and embrace his wor I very much enjoyed this short novel that deals with life's struggles as it pertains with ones beliefs. Since I very much enjoy books on religion, spirituality and God, this book hit all the right buttons and then some. I could definitely feel Tolstoy's anguish and agony in trying to figure out the meaning of life. I feel we've all been there at some point in our life. This book probably isn't for everyone but, if you enjoy Tolstoy, then I encourage you to read this short novel and embrace his words. Shout out to my Goodreads friend Piyangie for reading the book and encouraging me to do likewise. 😊

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ibrahim choeb

    ”for in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increases his knowledge increases his sorrow”. “My life came to a standstill. I could breathe, eat, drink, and sleep, and I could not help doing these things; but there was no life, for there were no wishes the fulfillment of which I could consider reasonable. I satisfied my desire or not, nothing would come of it. I could not even wish to know the truth, for I guessed of what it consisted. The truth was that life is meaningless.” “I should long ago ha ”for in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increases his knowledge increases his sorrow”. “My life came to a standstill. I could breathe, eat, drink, and sleep, and I could not help doing these things; but there was no life, for there were no wishes the fulfillment of which I could consider reasonable. I satisfied my desire or not, nothing would come of it. I could not even wish to know the truth, for I guessed of what it consisted. The truth was that life is meaningless.” “I should long ago have killed myself, if i had not had a dim hope of finding him. I only really live when i feel and seek him. I remembered that i had lived only when i believed in a god.” Absurdity of life and the inevitable death, tolstoy represents a lot of people’s approach into seeking the ultimate meaning of life which is seeking god, he is simply mirroring a lot of people’s thoughts and misery to reach that outcome, which makes it a great book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    It shouldn't surprise you when it happens, but it always does: you read someone's thoughts from over a hundred years ago and they mirror yours, exactly, in content if not in eloquence. Tolstoy's struggle extrating a faith he needs from a doctrine he abhors is a nearly universal intellectual journey. The book is most valuable for two reasons: it explains how the irrational conclusions of fate actually fit into a system of reason, by changing the expectations of reason, and it details how denomina It shouldn't surprise you when it happens, but it always does: you read someone's thoughts from over a hundred years ago and they mirror yours, exactly, in content if not in eloquence. Tolstoy's struggle extrating a faith he needs from a doctrine he abhors is a nearly universal intellectual journey. The book is most valuable for two reasons: it explains how the irrational conclusions of fate actually fit into a system of reason, by changing the expectations of reason, and it details how denominations and sects ultimately work against the simple purpose of faith. "Having looked around further at people in other countries and at my contemporaries and predecessors, I saw the same thing. Where there is life there is faith. Since the day of creating faith has made it possible for mankind to live, and the essential aspects of that faith are always and everywhere the same." [58:] Whatever answers faith gives, regardless of which faith, or to whom the answers are given, such answers always give an infinite meaning to the finite existence of man; a meaning that is not destroyed by suffering, deprivation or death. This means that only in faith can we find the meaning and possibility of life... Faith is the force of life. If a man lives, then he must believe in something. If he did not believe that there was something he must live for he would not live." [58:] "To know God and to live are one in the same thing. God is life. 'Live in search of God and there will be no life without God!' And more powerfully than ever before everything within and around me came to light, and the light has not deserted me since." [75:] "I shall not seek the explanation of everything. I know that the explanation of all things, like the origin of all things, must remain a secret of eternity. But I want to understand in such a way as to be brought to the invetably inexplicable. I want to realize that all that is inexplicable is so, not because the demands of my intellect are at fault (they are correct and apart from them I can understand nothing), but because I can recognize the limits of my intellect. I want to understand in such a way that everything inexplicable presents itself to me as being necessarily inexplicable and not as being something I am under an obligation to believe." [94:]

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bogdan

    This book is not for religious persons only. As an Atheist I was quite touched by Tolstoy's struggle with the absurdity of life and the inevitability of death. Tolstoy looks for answers to life's biggest question "Why?" in the fields of science and philosophy but he is dissatisfied. Reason cannot explain the absurdity of life. Because of this, Tolstoy turns his attention towards faith. I was quite impressed by the hardships he suffered in order to reach a truth that has meaning to him. All those This book is not for religious persons only. As an Atheist I was quite touched by Tolstoy's struggle with the absurdity of life and the inevitability of death. Tolstoy looks for answers to life's biggest question "Why?" in the fields of science and philosophy but he is dissatisfied. Reason cannot explain the absurdity of life. Because of this, Tolstoy turns his attention towards faith. I was quite impressed by the hardships he suffered in order to reach a truth that has meaning to him. All those years of searching, of meditating. He struggled with depression and he was haunted by suicidal thoughts. Tolstoy is so often misunderstood from both the religious and the secular perspective, being called by each of them a "heretic" and a "lunatic". Tolstoy is a true christian. A true christian lives only for God, which is love. I think that through the concept of God, Tolstoy was able to love life, by loving God was life. Tolstoy explains that faith enables people to go on with their lives,because the hardships and sorrows of life are shadowed by the perspective of Heaven and eternal life. I don't think Tolstoy tries to justify his faith using reason and scientific arguments. He just believes and if that stopped him from putting a bullet in his brains, I find no harm in it. The book is a mirror into the soul of one of the greatest writers and thinkers who ever lived.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ammara Abid

    One of the most terrific account I have ever read. This confession left me completely awestruck. Don't know what to say.... Great people Great courage and Great sayings..... "I did not myself know what I wanted: I feared life, desired to escape from it, yet still hoped something of it". "I began to understand that in the replies given by faith is stored up the deepest human wisdom and that I had no right to deny them on the ground of reason, and that those answers are the only ones which reply to l One of the most terrific account I have ever read. This confession left me completely awestruck. Don't know what to say.... Great people Great courage and Great sayings..... "I did not myself know what I wanted: I feared life, desired to escape from it, yet still hoped something of it". "I began to understand that in the replies given by faith is stored up the deepest human wisdom and that I had no right to deny them on the ground of reason, and that those answers are the only ones which reply to life's question". "Faith is the strength of life. If a man lives he believes in something. If he did not believe that one must live for something, he would not live. If he does not see and recognize the illusory nature of the finite, he believes in the finite; if he understands the illusory nature of the finite, he must believe in the infinite. Without faith he cannot live".

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    I have been an avowed atheist for two years. I had mustered up enough courage to abandon the Christian life after a long battle of shattering the doubts. I was not able to do so because of the fear instilled in me that I would go to hell or not be saved from the Judgment Day. At that time, I was still an utter simpleton believing in something beyond logic. After reading some said heretical books such as of Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion ( 5 stars), Sam Harris’ A Letter to a Nation ( 5 stars ) and I have been an avowed atheist for two years. I had mustered up enough courage to abandon the Christian life after a long battle of shattering the doubts. I was not able to do so because of the fear instilled in me that I would go to hell or not be saved from the Judgment Day. At that time, I was still an utter simpleton believing in something beyond logic. After reading some said heretical books such as of Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion ( 5 stars), Sam Harris’ A Letter to a Nation ( 5 stars ) and An Atheist Manifesto ( 5 stars ) , Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great ( 3 stars ), and George H. Smith’s Atheism: The Case Against God ( 4 stars ), I have been awoken to the reality as though the experience was a rude awakening. So, do not dare lecture me that I must be veering off my faith because faith is another argument of foolish illusion. By the same token, I have read one apologetic book to defend the sides of the Christianity . Still, the side of the atheists stands for me. For sure, I would be the subject to the brick brat here on Goodreads. Like or unlike this , it is neither here nor there. This book deals with Leo Tolstoy’s midlife crisis in his spirituality and existentialism. Like what the atheists above experienced , Tolstoy came to the point that he questioned the religious teachings foisted upon him since he was still young. To find the answer, he went on a pilgrimage until he thought he had found the answer to his questions: He concluded that God does not exist. Still, not completely convinced , he had the persistent and obtrusive realization that there may be Supernatural unknown which can be called God. His experience was like backsliding to his delusion. In other words, Tolstoy ended up as agnostic- a question which has been a debate among religion and atheism apologists. If Tolstoy had existential crisis in his 50’s , it may be ridiculous for others if I say that I have had come to it in my 20’s .Perhaps, information in the internet is now accessible to everyone. Tolstoy, as a rule, is considered as the world’ best novelist . His writing for others is considered flawless. No doubt in this book, every sentence is beautifully written- the aftereffect of his emotional impact, an experience bears half resemblance to Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore and Antichrist by Nitzsche. Probably the big credit is to its English translator. As a bright philosopher put it that there are many kinds of truth since there are many kinds of beholders, you might misunderstand that Tolstoy’s’ intellectual hubris is conveyed in the sentences. In this book, Tolstoy said that people who believe in something beyond logic are not intellectual. Come to think of it. Do not be carried out by your deep-seated beliefs. Rating : 4/ 5 stars for Leo Tolstoy’s beautiful sentences.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I read this because my friend Jenn said she was reading it. Last year I read Anna Karenina (which I loved) and decades ago I had read War and Peace and some of his terrific stories such as "The Death of Ivan Ilych", but I had never read this piece. I think of myself as an agnostic, brought up in a conservative Dutch Calvinist religion, and once taught Bible in a Christian school, so I am familiar with and have read theology and am always exploring spiritual issues in my reading, one way or the o I read this because my friend Jenn said she was reading it. Last year I read Anna Karenina (which I loved) and decades ago I had read War and Peace and some of his terrific stories such as "The Death of Ivan Ilych", but I had never read this piece. I think of myself as an agnostic, brought up in a conservative Dutch Calvinist religion, and once taught Bible in a Christian school, so I am familiar with and have read theology and am always exploring spiritual issues in my reading, one way or the other. That said, I was not blown away by this book. I felt I knew some of it through my own experience. The book is called a "confession" because it is a story of the spiritual struggles, in his fifties, that led him to the brink of suicide. So the first half of the book is dark and challenging. Spoiler alert: he does not commit suicide, of course--he says he was not "courageous" enough to go through with it--but instead comes to a fresher vision of faith he can embrace, one that is simpler, more connected to the lower classes he over time came to admire (and you can see that in Anna Karenina), a simple faith he sees reflected in the farmers and serfs. In contrast, he denounces the upper classes he came from (and still was technically part of as a pretty wealthy landowner) and the followers of the religion in which he was raised, Russian Orthodoxy, because of what he sees as their cynicism, consumerism, and hypocrisy. The text is simple, straightforward, and very short, especially for Tolstoy. This is a small book format for a pretty short essay which is more like a letter to the members of his religious "circle" and fellow upper class people. He denounces them and romanticizes the lower classes. I guess the pattern for the essays owes something to Augustine's Confessions: I was a terrible and lost sinner, I committed all the sins you can think of, and now I know better. He does confess a few specific sins in the first half of the book. Tolstoy as he got older got more devout, and more entrenched in his own kind of orthodoxy, maybe, with simpler, more Buddhist leanings, more existentialist than typically Christian approaches. Out of these views he wrote his last novel Resurrection, which I recall being pretty didactic. I liked Anna Karenina, the last of his books that represents real complexity and doubt and struggle. This "Confession" makes it clear that he has now "arrived" at some truths. I prefer the doubting Tolstoy, and his contemporary also doubting Fyodor Dostoevsky's anguished spiritual exploration, The Brothers Karamazov. But Confession helped Tolstoy gain thousands of followers, all the way to his death, who saw him as a spiritual leader, so it is seen as kind of a spiritual classic. And Tolstoy, it should come as no surprise, is a great writer, so that in itself is a pleasure.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Beyrouthy

    At first glance, you would probably scoff at this typical account of a non-believer who finds his way back to God, something I'm sure everyone has been exposed to during their excruciating years on the desks of Jesuit classrooms. But you would find yourself intrigued and disconcerted when the author is none other than the Russian giant, Leo Tolstoy. And really, who am I to give a mediocre rating to a book by such an erudite writer and ingenious thinker? It is the man whose anarcho-pacifism inspir At first glance, you would probably scoff at this typical account of a non-believer who finds his way back to God, something I'm sure everyone has been exposed to during their excruciating years on the desks of Jesuit classrooms. But you would find yourself intrigued and disconcerted when the author is none other than the Russian giant, Leo Tolstoy. And really, who am I to give a mediocre rating to a book by such an erudite writer and ingenious thinker? It is the man whose anarcho-pacifism inspired Gandhi to liberate India through nonviolence and here I am, granting him no more than a 2-star rating. After almost 50 years of epicurean pursuit of pleasure, Tolstoy was appalled when he looked back at his life: depravity, contempt, adultery, theft and warfare. He found himself unhappy and unable to find a meaning to this senseless and evil life, perplexed at his inability to answer the simple question that every wise child asks: "What am I? and What is the meaning of my life? What will come of what I am doing today or shall do tomorrow?" Adhering to the rational and scientific knowledge he spent his whole lifetime corroborating, Tolstoy found no solace, no palliative for the empty chasm inside him that would soon swallow him up whole and push him to the edge of suicide. Pleading enlightenment from wise men of thought like Schopenhauer and Socrates, Tolstoy was again facing an impasse: "We approach truth only inasmuch as we depart from life" said Socrates. Numerous speculations and diligent quests for truth were in vain, but finally Tolstoy found a dim beacon of hope when he turned his aristocratic-self to the proletariat, the masses of people that constitute the underprivileged labor force. Then, the author of Anna Karenina had a life-changing revelation: those people who wallow in adversity and ignorance, who bequeath nothing but debt to their posterity, whose inborn poverty is their death sentence, those people who are supposed to be miserable were revealed to be the happiest people, accepting illness and misfortune, performing arduous tasks for meager salaries and most importantly, very conscious of the meaning of life, that big existential crisis for a learned aristocrat like Tolstoy, wasn't of any ambiguity to the uneducated masses. And that is because they clung to religion and they pledged allegiance to the Holy Trinity. Ever since, Tolstoy's long abandoned Christian faith surged once again to salvage him and bring him back ashore from the uproarious storm that shook up his entire being to its core.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ibrahim Niftiyev

    ENG: I really enjoyed reading "A confession" from Leo Tolstoy. I used to read a small trilogy of him and really hadn't a clear vision of his style. It is hard to believe that you can read exactly what you were and are feeling every time you start to think about the meaning of life and some cursed questions. Probably, you know what I mean and I won't go to deep levels by analyzing the philosophical and moral aspects of the book. However, the only and main thing what I really aspire to say is that ENG: I really enjoyed reading "A confession" from Leo Tolstoy. I used to read a small trilogy of him and really hadn't a clear vision of his style. It is hard to believe that you can read exactly what you were and are feeling every time you start to think about the meaning of life and some cursed questions. Probably, you know what I mean and I won't go to deep levels by analyzing the philosophical and moral aspects of the book. However, the only and main thing what I really aspire to say is that after the reading this book I got sure that I am not alone with my dark thoughts inside my head. This road, the road of truth which we seek with of our all existence is somewhere and we can find it if we listen to our soul and real "me". Tolstoy confessed his intimate thoughts about this road and when you realize the essence of this search you can break all chains and grab that award which is named as "eternity" or "truth". I'll give you a hint: everything begins and ends inside you. So, you have a beginning and an end. The only mission of your is to fill the gap between them. Never stop and you will find peace. --------------------------- AZE:Seçim qarşısında olmaq, "hansını seçim?" deyə düşünmək, öz həyat yolunu tapmaq, insan övladının bəlkə də lənəti, ya da bir ömür onun ən sadiq müəllimidir. Ən pisi, seçimləri edərkən nəyə güvəməyi seçə bilməməkdir: başqa insanlara, ya özünə? İdeyalara, ya materiyaya? Elmlərə, ya mistikaya? İnsan min illərdir bu tələdə ora-bura vurnuxur. Hərə də bir cürə özünə təsəlli və ya rahatlıq tapır. Kimsə peşəkar olur, kimsə sərxoş, ya da narkomaniyanın min-bir üsulundan birini seçir, kimsə yazıb-yaradır, kimsə özünü ağrıtmaqla məşğul olur (mazoxizm). Cəmiyyətlər üstünlük illüziyasını yaradıb ortaya atsalar da, əslində hamı eyni aqibəti yaşayır. Nəfərlərin gəldiyi nəticələr şəbəkələrin gəldiyi nəticələrlə eynilik təşkil edir. Həmişə belə olur. Əgər kitab sənin içindəki suallarla rezonans yaradırsa, səninlə dərdləşirsə, sənə seçimləri daha da aydın görməyə kömək edirsə, bax onda o kitabın yeri səndə fəxri pillələrin birində olur. "Etiraf" haqqında demək istədiklərim isə bunlarla bitmir... Kitabın adı ilə onun mahiyyəti arasında yaranan ideal uyğunluq heyranedicidir. Adətən analoji mövzularda yazılan əsərlər ideoloji penetrasiya formatında, ya da məcburi anaxronik məğzə malik olur. Mövzu çərçivəsində yazıb-yaradan orta və kiçik kalibrli filosoflar və yazıçıların əslində spekulyasiya etdiyini başa düşdüm, çünki məsələ ancaq Tolstoy kimi dahilərin və "həqiqi həqiqət"in axtarışçılarının işidir. Məhz onun qələminin izləri zamanın sınağından çıxmaq iqtidarında olub bizlərə də azdan-çoxdan kömək edə bilər. Bəli, azdan-çoxdan, çünki əlbəttə ki, işin çox böyük hissəsi bizim öz üzərimizdədir. Əgər cücəyə yumurtadan çıxmağa hansısa yad qüvvə kömək etsə, onda cücə bir ömür zəif və aciz bir canlı kimi formalaşacaq. Bizim məsələdə də əslində vəziyyət belədir və əsərin "Etiraf" olaraq adlandırılması elə-belə deyil. Diqqətlə düşünəndə başa düşürsən ki, belə intim mövzularda insan ancaq müəyyən şeyləri bölüşə və ya indiki halda etiraf edə bilər. Daha zor gücünə hansısa ideyaları və yanaşmaları qəbul etdirib bütpərəstliyə sövq etmək kainat qarşısında əsl günahdır. Ömrünün 50-ci illərində Tolstoyun belə ekzistensialist əzablar çəkməyi, bəzən nihilizmə yönəlməyi və bəzən də intihara meyilliliyi, aramsız və amansız cavab axtarışları onu inanc, tanrı və sadə insanlara yaxınlaşdırır. Bu yaxınlaşmanın özündə belə əbədi skeptizm və sabit tənqid var. Tolstoy "Biz niyə buradayıq?" və ya "Həyatımızın mənası nədir?" suallarını verərək həqiqətə yaxınlaşır. Eyni suallaır verib məhvə və ya heçliyə yaxınlaşanlar da olub. Bu məsələ ilə əlaqədar Tolstoy özü əsərində ideal qruplaşdırma təqdim edib. Mütaliədən qazandıqlarıçı cəmləyəndə bir daha başa düşürəm ki, insanın məna və "mən" axtarışı əbədi prosesdir. Bu yolda mümkün olan ən ideal təcrübə isə Tolstoyun "Etiraf"ında öz əksini tapıb. Bu əsərlə tanışlığıma çox şad oldum. Xüsusilə də "Parlaq imzalar" nəşriyyatı çox gözəl iş görüb. Nəşr işi sadəcə vərəqləri bir-birinə tikib ortaya üz qabığı rəngbərəng nə isə əşya qoymaq deyil. Bu əsl incəsənətdir ki, "Parlaq imzalar" da bunun öhdəsindən yüksək səviyyədə gəlib. Mütaliəmin belə zövqverici olmasına vəsilə olan nəşriyyata bir daha öz təşəkkürümü bildirməyi özümə borc bilirəm. https://niftiyevibrahim.blogspot.com/

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC radio 4 Extra: Episode 1 of 10 Early doubts about religion and the existence of God. Episode 2 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can writing and family provide the answer? Episode 3 of 10 Does death make life pointless? Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life read by Joss Ackland. Episode 4 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can philosophy provide an answer? Episode 5 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of From BBC radio 4 Extra: Episode 1 of 10 Early doubts about religion and the existence of God. Episode 2 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can writing and family provide the answer? Episode 3 of 10 Does death make life pointless? Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life read by Joss Ackland. Episode 4 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can philosophy provide an answer? Episode 5 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can simply living life provide an answer? Episode 6 of 10 Can doubting logical thoughts lead to an answer? Episode 7 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can the irrational knowledge of faith help us? Episode 8 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can the search for God help to provide an answer? Episode 9 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can reason and belief exist in the same answer? Episode 10 of 10 Leo Tolstoy's passionate search for the meaning of life. Can simplifying faith give us an answer? By the time he was 50, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy had found fame and success through his great literary achievements. He had a wife and family, and a large estate. But he hadn't found what was most important: the meaning of life. A Confession compellingly describes his search for the truth. Read by Joss Ackland. Abridged in ten episodes by Andrew Simpson. Producer: Claire Campbell Smith First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1993. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09s...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is Tolstoy's desperate middle age search for the meaning of life. This is not just any search (this is Tolstoy we're talking about here), but an expansive, in-depth search of the mind. Despite this, he breaks it all down in simple terms and threads out the unnecessary, creating a short work in which each page is important, but also reads easy (Leo is a king of deduction). Tolstoy's crisis was major. He had come to the realization that life no longer had meaning. Writing popular, award winni This is Tolstoy's desperate middle age search for the meaning of life. This is not just any search (this is Tolstoy we're talking about here), but an expansive, in-depth search of the mind. Despite this, he breaks it all down in simple terms and threads out the unnecessary, creating a short work in which each page is important, but also reads easy (Leo is a king of deduction). Tolstoy's crisis was major. He had come to the realization that life no longer had meaning. Writing popular, award winning novels, having worldwide intellectual influence, having a loving family; none of it was adequate anymore. He had made up his mind: meaning or suicide. When exploring philosophy as the answer to the meaning of life, he found, "instead of an answer one gets the same question, only in a complex form." When he looked to mathematics and experimental science, he found that there are only answers that are unrelated to the question, pulling one further away from true meaning instead of closer. He then chooses to look towards the great minds of history and the wisdom of the ages; people like Schopenhauer, Buddha, Soloman, and Socrates. Here he found, "not that the result at which I had arrived was the fruit of error or of a diseased mind, but on the contrary, that I had thought correctly, and that my thoughts coincided with the conclusions of the most powerful of human minds...Happy is he who has not been born: death is better than life, and one must free oneself from life." His conclusion of suicide had been further confirmed. Reason led Tolstoy to the unreasonable: He chose to continue living despite his knowledge that life is "senseless and an evil." Why was it that the intellectuals who had figured out that life was meaningless and rank had been foolish enough as to keep living, to keep suffering? Why were they ignoring their reason? Clearly it should have led them to suicide. They were cowards, and Tolstoy had decided that he would be no coward - ending his life was a clear-set, close option. All through time, people continued to find meaning through a higher power, how so? Tolstoy concludes that the answer to finding meaning in life is not in rational knowledge, but through framing the question between the relation of the finite and the infinite. "And I understood that, however irrational and distorted might be the replies given by faith, they have this advantage, that they introduce into every answer a relation between the finite and the infinite, without which there can be no solution....What meaning has life, that death doesn't destroy?--Union with the eternal God: heaven. So that besides rational knowledge, I was inevitably brought to acknowledge that all live humanity has another irrational knowledge - faith which makes it possible to live." Tolstoy now starts a new search, a search for and through faith. Through this, it's clear that he keeps his mind skeptical and analytical; his reason unthwarted, and his intellectual honesty intact. "A Confession" is the perfect title for this book. Tolstoy's journey is full of doubts, reservations, and finding of hypocrisies in institutions, in others, and in himself. But through it all, the man is able to find faith and a meaning to life, and those of us who have been fortunate enough to read this book are better off because of it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yousra Serry

    3.5 What I really learned from reading this is that Tolstoy and I would have really enjoyed each other's company.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    I like to think an elderly Tolstoy would be distraught about the effect his Confession (1880) has had on me, which is to deeply unsettle me with his thinking during his depressed period, without my finding comfort in his ultimate conclusion that faith is the essence of life. He would be such because he came to find all art (or creative works such as this) which aren’t immediately comprehensible by the simplest of simpletons, and which points them in the direction of salvation, to be worthless1. I like to think an elderly Tolstoy would be distraught about the effect his Confession (1880) has had on me, which is to deeply unsettle me with his thinking during his depressed period, without my finding comfort in his ultimate conclusion that faith is the essence of life. He would be such because he came to find all art (or creative works such as this) which aren’t immediately comprehensible by the simplest of simpletons, and which points them in the direction of salvation, to be worthless1. Indications of this belief, fully expressed in What is Art? (1897—in which, among other things, Tolstoy condemns Shakespeare as “tedious and repulsive”), are also visible in A Confession; Tolstoy claims he always saw his writing, even War and Peace, as a trivial endeavor. The change which comes about Tolstoy late in life isn’t a reappraisal of his work, but of the morality or immorality of devoting oneself to trivialities. Tolstoy decides that, relative to what he has come to view as the obvious goodness of faith and of manual labor, such trivialities are the devil’s work, and they can bring only idleness or the useless sense of melancholy which has been weighing on my shoulders for the last two and a half hours. I can only imagine being stuck next to the 51-year old count on an airplane. Would Lev Nikolayevich care for some peanuts? “Life is meaningless and evil.” Fasten your seatbelt, please? “The blessings of the dead are greater than those of the living, and it is better to not exist.” That Tolstoy ultimately rejects these beliefs is no solace for me because his reasons for rejecting them seem to rest on shaky assumptions. Specifically, these assumptions are about the peasantry. Of them he writes: Contrary to what I saw among the people of our class […] these people spent their lives at hard labor and were less dissatisfied with life than the wealthy. [T]hese people endure sickness and tribulation without question or resistance—peacefully, and in the firm conviction that this is as it should be, cannot be otherwise, and is good. [T]hese people live, suffer, and draw near to death peacefully and, more often than not, joyfully. […] And these people, who are deprived of everything that for Solomon and me constituted the only good in life, yet who nonetheless enjoy the greatest happiness, form the overwhelming majority of mankind. To which I say, respectfully: Pah! These exaltations smack of noble-savage mythology. I am no expert on the Russian peasantry of the 19th century, but if they were anything like the modern poor of America, they endured (or succumbed to) sickness and tribulation with much resistance and a broad range of questions, they drew near to death with horror and repulsion, and they do not enjoy the greatest happiness, because he who attempts to escape from his current circumstances (as the poor do2) cannot possibly be happy; he may be deluded about what will bring him happiness in the future (e.g. wealth), but it is impossible to be deluded about the state of one’s own present happiness. It is very possible, however, to be deluded about the happiness of others, as Tolstoy makes clear here, with his oft-repeated distinction between the peasants and ‘people of our class’, that is, those plagued with property, enchanted by the roulette wheel, tormented by the ennui of aristocracy, who by their fireplaces3 fidget in their fur-lined chairs and, tugging their perfectly-kempt beards in nervous agitation, query, “What is it all for?” hoping that whichever blockheaded servant is on duty at this hour won’t take the rhetorical question as an invitation to speak. Tolstoy uses his severely misguided impressions of the Russian peasant as evidence the goodness of faith. Assuming that the Russian people are so happy, Tolstoy assumes one more time that what makes them so is their faith, concluding, “I was certain that my life did not have and could not have any meaning, and not only did the principles of faith no longer seem unnecessary to me, but experience had unquestionably led me to the conviction that only the principles of faith gave life meaning.” Yes, the statement ‘only the principles of faith [give] life meaning’ is true; however, Tolstoy is begging his question here. He assumes that life has a meaning, and is frustrated when, upon inquiry, the scientists he speaks to don’t pull out a chalkboard and say, “we have proven by such-and-such equation shown here that the meaning of life is to do good unto your fellow man.” Despite Tolstoy’s implication that they would, no scientist would tell you that science is a tool useful for moral judgments. The difference in outlook between the two is that Tolstoy is so narrow-minded, so possessed of his search for a proof of goodness—a goodness which he already assumes to be true, as, obviously, Tolstoy would reject any ‘proof’ which saw murder and theft as good deeds—that he is blinded to the goodness that the tools of science can do, whereas the scientist is well aware of this potential. But here I have stuffed Tolstoy with straw; I haven’t given him enough credit for his efforts to reach out to the Russian people. His support for Raskolniks and other dissidents and his condemnation of the Russian army as an evil killing machine took true courage regardless of the background of the speaker; furthermore we shouldn’t criticize Tolstoy for how me might have acted differently had he not had the advantages he did when he began to test the censor’s patience—both by birth and by his well-earned literary fame. For the same reason we won’t label his calls for passive resistance hypocritical; to do either of these things is to surrender one’s judgment to identity politics, to think of the speaker and not of what is being said. Tolstoy’s goal, in all of his writing, is that the reader of his work be sufficiently moved to do something selfless and kind, and nourish at least two souls in the process. Regardless of the validity of Tolstoy’s solution to his darkness, we can be glad that he found it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    ATJG

    Fresh as paint, this. Much more than a Boy-Meets-God rerun, Confession is Tolstoy telling you in earnest how it was for him. Early religious uncertainty gives way to youthful arrogance, and eventually, full-blown nihilistic malaise. He becomes fearful of hunting with a gun lest he should become quarry for his thoughts; rope appears suddenly lovely and wonderful. Though he longs to stop living, he cannot bring himself to end his life. The second half of Confession amounts to the bargain Tolstoy str Fresh as paint, this. Much more than a Boy-Meets-God rerun, Confession is Tolstoy telling you in earnest how it was for him. Early religious uncertainty gives way to youthful arrogance, and eventually, full-blown nihilistic malaise. He becomes fearful of hunting with a gun lest he should become quarry for his thoughts; rope appears suddenly lovely and wonderful. Though he longs to stop living, he cannot bring himself to end his life. The second half of Confession amounts to the bargain Tolstoy struck with the world that he might live and live happily. Parts of this bargain are standard fare (namely the well-worn "leap of faith") but the nuance of Tolstoy's reconciliation with life is rich and compelling. He leaves us, finally, with images from a dream of lying suspended between two abysses. What's one to do but choose to look up?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Simona

    I read somewhere that this is the most important book for understanding his works. I agree with this part, but I don't completely agree with his thinking ... but hey, that's his confession and who I am to judged his thoughts and feelings ... except that - I think it's the best book I've read this year, so far. Slightly socially critical, moving, an extraordinary insight into his thoughts about depression, faith, life, family ... and, of course, the main starting point of all the thinking is the I read somewhere that this is the most important book for understanding his works. I agree with this part, but I don't completely agree with his thinking ... but hey, that's his confession and who I am to judged his thoughts and feelings ... except that - I think it's the best book I've read this year, so far. Slightly socially critical, moving, an extraordinary insight into his thoughts about depression, faith, life, family ... and, of course, the main starting point of all the thinking is the ultimate question - WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Does anyone know the answer?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meaningless

    The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless. Everything in the world-both folly and wisdom, wealth and poverty, joy and sorrow-all is vanity and emptiness. A man dies and nothing remains. And this is absurd," says Solomon. What will come of what I do today and tomorrow? What will come of my entire life? Expressed differently, the question may be: Why should I live? Why should I wish for anything or do anything? Or to put it still differently: Is there any meaning in my lif The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless. Everything in the world-both folly and wisdom, wealth and poverty, joy and sorrow-all is vanity and emptiness. A man dies and nothing remains. And this is absurd," says Solomon. What will come of what I do today and tomorrow? What will come of my entire life? Expressed differently, the question may be: Why should I live? Why should I wish for anything or do anything? Or to put it still differently: Is there any meaning in my life that will not be destroyed by my inevitably approaching death? Faith is the knowledge of the meaning of human life, whereby the individual does not destroy himself but lives. Faith is the force of life. If a man lives, then he must have faith in something. If he did not believe that he had something he must live for, then he would not live. If he fails to see and understand the illusory nature of the finite, then he believes in the finite; if he understands the illusory nature of the finite, then he must believe in the infinite. Without faith it is impossible to live

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hans

    What makes this book so powerful for me is the fact that I too am struggling with similar issues, questions and doubts that Tolstoy experienced and wrote about in this concise book. I can almost feel the agonizing pain he suffers as he questions life, its meaning and his own purpose in it. I suppose anyone who spends a great deal of time on introspection will sooner or later go through this crisis that he writes about here. The part that I appreciated the most for its profundity was his statemen What makes this book so powerful for me is the fact that I too am struggling with similar issues, questions and doubts that Tolstoy experienced and wrote about in this concise book. I can almost feel the agonizing pain he suffers as he questions life, its meaning and his own purpose in it. I suppose anyone who spends a great deal of time on introspection will sooner or later go through this crisis that he writes about here. The part that I appreciated the most for its profundity was his statements on rationality and faith. By his assertions reason is unable to link man to the infinite but can only link man to the finite. Faith is the bridge to the infinite from the finite. It is not something explained or even completely understood but merely expereinced or aligned with. I cannot elaborate on it any clearer than he has. It was something that simply struck me and resonated with me

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    “But then I turned my gaze upon myself, on what went on within me, and I remembered all those cessations of life and reanimations that recurred within me hundreds of times. I remembered that I only lived at those times when I believed in God. As it was before, so it was now; I need only be aware of God to live... All this was clear to me, and I was glad and at peace. Then it is as if someone is saying to me, "See that you remember." And I awoke.”

  24. 4 out of 5

    Marwa Assem Salama

    “Why am I here?” Not this familiar existential question, which no one could answer, is what earns this book special. Simply it is the time it has been asked at is what makes all the remainder to me. As Leo Tolstoy has never held the essence of this question while he was in the bottom of nothing. On the contrary, he exercised that when he was on the top of everything; Success, fame, and social stability. Perhaps that’s why I felt this confession is very nearly similar to the painstaking doubt jou “Why am I here?” Not this familiar existential question, which no one could answer, is what earns this book special. Simply it is the time it has been asked at is what makes all the remainder to me. As Leo Tolstoy has never held the essence of this question while he was in the bottom of nothing. On the contrary, he exercised that when he was on the top of everything; Success, fame, and social stability. Perhaps that’s why I felt this confession is very nearly similar to the painstaking doubt journey that Islamic philosopher “Abu Hamed Al Ghazaly” has been through and wrote about in his well-known book “Deliverance from Error”. Not just that, but also because the determination they have achieved after years of suffering and delirium was merely a spiritual tone, “a light” that cannot be tested by any coherent arguments or scientific grounds. And as Al Ghazaly once said: “I owed my deliverance, not to a concatenation of proofs and arguments, but to the light which God caused to penetrate into my heart---the light which illuminates the threshold of all knowledge. To suppose that certitude can be only based upon formal arguments is to limit the boundless mercy of God.” As Tolstoy here says: ““What are these deaths and revivals? It is clear that I do not live whenever I lose my faith in the existence of God, and I would have killed myself long ago if I did not have some vague hope of finding God. I truly live only whenever I am conscious of him and seek him. "What, then, do I seek?" A voice cried out within me. "He is there, the one without whom there could be no life." To know God and to live come to one and the same thing. God is life.” “Live seeking God, and then you will not live without God.” And more than ever before, all within me and around me lit up, and the light did not again abandon me.” No one came back from death to tell us the truth, but it seems that Tolstoy has returned from a subconscious dream like this not only with faith but also with certainty and peace. Saying: “I wrote the above three years ago. The other day, as I was looking over this printed portion and returning to the thoughts and feelings that went through me when I was experiencing all this, I had a dream. This dream expressed for me in a condensed form everything I lived through and wrote about; there for I think that for those who have understood me, a description of the dream will refresh, clarify, and gather into one piece what has been discussed at length in these pages. Here is the dream: I see that I am lying in bed. Feeling neither good nor bad, I am lying on my back. But I begin to wonder how and on what I am lying, something that up till now had not entered my mind. Looking about my bed, I see that I am lying on some cords woven together and attached to the sides of the bed. My heels are resting on one of the cords and my lower legs on another in an uncomfortable way. Somehow I know that these cords can be shifted. Moving one leg, I push away the furthest cord. It seems to me that it will be more comfortable that way. But I have pushed it too far away; I try to catch it, but this movement causes another cord to slip out from under my legs, leaving them hanging down. I rearrange my whole body, quite certain I will be settled now; but this movement causes still other cords to shift and slip out from under me, and I see the whole situation is getting worse: the whole lower part of my body is sinking and hanging down, and my feet are not touching the ground. I am supported only along the upper part of my back, and for some reason I begin to feel not only uncomfortable but terrified. Only now do I ask myself what had not yet occurred to me: where am I and what am l lying on? I begin to look around, and the first place I look is down toward where my body is dangling, in the direction where I feel I must soon fall. L look below, and I cannot believe my eyes. I am resting on a height such as I could never have imagined, a height altogether unlike that of the highest tower or mountain. I cannot even tell whether I can see anything down below in the bottomless depths of my abyss over which I am hanging and into which I am drawn. My heart stops, and I am overcome with horror. It is horrible to look down there. I feel that if I look down, I will immediately slip from the last cord and perish. I do not look, yet not looking is worse, for now I am thinking about what will happen to me as soon as the last cord breaks. I feel that I am losing the last ounce of my strength from sheer terror and that my back is slowly sinking lower and lower. Another instant and I shall break away. And then a thought occurs to me: this cannot be real. It is just a dream. I will wake up. I try to wake up, but I cannot. “What am I to do, what am I to do?" I ask myself, looking up. Above me there is also an abyss. I gaze into this abyss of sky and try to forget about the one below, and I actually do forget. The infinity below repels and horrifies me; the infinity above attracts me and gives me strength. Thus, I am hanging over the abyss suspended by the last cord that have not yet slipped out from under me. I know I am hanging there, but I am only looking upward, and my terror passes. As it happens, in a dream, a voice is saying, "Mark this, this is it!" I gaze deeper and deeper into the infinity above me, and I seem to grow calm. I recall everything that has happened, and I remember how it all came about: how I moved my legs, how I was dangling there, the horror that came over me, and how I was saved from the horror by looking up. And I ask myself, “Well, am I still hanging here?" And as soon as I glance around, I feel with my whole body a support that is holding me up. I can see that I am no longer dangling or falling but am firmly supported; I touch myself, look around, and see that there is a single cord underneath the center of my body, that when I look up I am lying on it firmly balanced, and that it alone has supported me all along. As it happens, in a dream, the mechanism by which I am supported seems quite natural, understandable, and beyond doubt, in spite of the fact that when I am awake the mechanism is completely incomprehensible. In my sleep I am even astonished that I had not understood this before. It seems that there is a pillar beside me and there is no doubt of the solidity of the pillar, even though it has nothing to stand on. The cord is somehow very cleverly yet very simply attached to the pillar, leading out from it, and if you place the middle of your body on the cord and look up, there cannot even be a question of falling. All this was clear to me, and I was glad and at peace. Then it is as if someone is saying to me, "See that you remember." And I awoke." I discovered this Audiobook via this channel, which delivers many other intellectual gems too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xALNQ...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Selby

    Sometimes you cross paths with a book that perfectly compliments that moment in your life. This just happened with me and Comrade Tolstoy and his Confession. When this happens. When you happen to open, unintentionally, the exact book for your current [fill in the blank- obssession, crisis, etc.] it feels predestined. It is a cosmic dance of serendipitous delight. Lately I've been perseverating over some thoughts. Pesky thoughts. My partner is a little bored (aka annoyed) of hearing about them. Wh Sometimes you cross paths with a book that perfectly compliments that moment in your life. This just happened with me and Comrade Tolstoy and his Confession. When this happens. When you happen to open, unintentionally, the exact book for your current [fill in the blank- obssession, crisis, etc.] it feels predestined. It is a cosmic dance of serendipitous delight. Lately I've been perseverating over some thoughts. Pesky thoughts. My partner is a little bored (aka annoyed) of hearing about them. When distilled it comes down to this: I think that God is, well, an asshole. Coming to this conclusion was not novel. The reasons I have been so preoccupied were not novel: If God is all-powerful how do you explain all the pain, misery and strife in the world? Does God not care or does God think this is just one big cosmic fucked and bloody learning curve? You know, the usual, yadda yadda, yadda yadda. Basic 'I-was-raised-by-Baptist-missionaries--became-a-teenage-athiest--want-to-be-a-grown-and-spritually-adept-adult--but-still-can't-quite-drink-the-Kool-aid' kind of spiritual angst. Low and behold. To my utter delight/misery. Dear Comrade Tolstoy has been feeling the same angst as I. And he articulates it oh so much better than I could (or his translator does, one can never truly be sure). A Confession is, in classic Tolstoy fashion, written in breathtakingly realized prose. Tolstoy relates to us his crisis of faith, and the nature of it; social, spritual, intellectual, and emotional. Tolstoy talks of Buddhism and Islam. Seriously? Yes. Written from 1879-1882, history's finest prose writer discusses Buddhism and Islam. He tackles some of the hard questions: "And that irrational knowledge is faith, the very thing that I simply had to reject. That is: God in three persons, Creation in six days, devils and angels, and everything else that I couldn't accept without going out of my mind." Tolstoy looks at Socrates, Soloman, Schopenhauer, and Buddha. According to him, the five "most powerful minds of humanity." I love this insight into Master Tolstoy's mind and influences. Tolstoy is broaching topics so real and universal this easily could have been written today. These are the same arguments college students are having across the country every year. In fact, some of the sections seemed so relevant, so modern, I imagined them as instigating Facebook profile feeds. Take this one for example: "Then, as now, you would come across a clear acknowledgement and profession of the Orthodox faith more often than not in stupid, vicious, immoral people with a high opinion of themselves. Intellect, honesty, straightforwardness, kindness and probity you would come across more often than not in people who claimed to be non-believers." Yep, I've read that complaint a few dozen times. Never so beautifully written, but the same diagnosis. A Confession came to me at the precise moment that I needed it. God was speaking to me. I'm kidding! Jeez. Well, only kind of. I'll leave you with one of my favorite passages, and trust me, there are plenty worthy of sharing: "Faith is the life force. If a man lives, he has something to believe in. If he didn't believe it necessary to have something to live for, he would not live. If he cannot see and does not appreciate how illusory the finite world is, he will believe in the finite world; if he does understand how illusory the finite world is, he must believe in the infinite. Without faith it is impossible to live."

  26. 5 out of 5

    John

    A powerful book. Tolstoy became entirely disillusioned with life in middle age (around 50), and this is the story of his journey into the darkness and back out again.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Shortly after writing Anna Karenina, Tolstoy had a spiritual crisis so severe he had to hide cord lest he would hang himself and cease to go hunting lest he would be tempted by such an easy way of ending his life. If those words sound familiar – they should, they sound very much the same as his description of Levin in Anna Karenina. What is so startling about this essay is the directness, intensity, and honesty of Tolstoy – regardless of his conclusion. He is sincerely tormented about being unab Shortly after writing Anna Karenina, Tolstoy had a spiritual crisis so severe he had to hide cord lest he would hang himself and cease to go hunting lest he would be tempted by such an easy way of ending his life. If those words sound familiar – they should, they sound very much the same as his description of Levin in Anna Karenina. What is so startling about this essay is the directness, intensity, and honesty of Tolstoy – regardless of his conclusion. He is sincerely tormented about being unable to discover an acceptable purpose to life. He is in his early 50s and had reached the pinnacle of his career, but for what purpose? His rather unusual solution (after admitting that Kant and Schopenhauer’s findings that the existence of God cannot be proven were irrefutable) was to accept a Rousseau-like sentimental faith of the common people. However, since this is Tolstoy, it will not be a typical midlife religious conversion. A few years later he wrote his own version of the bible where he denied Christ's divinity and identified Christ’s essential message as returning violence with love and forever ending the cycle of hate. He found Christ to be an anarchist and believed Christianity to be opposed to organized religion and governments. Naturally, the State supported Russian Orthodox Church felt compelled to excommunicate him. A fascinating essay by a fascinating man.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sehar Moughal

    There is a time and place for every book. You mustn't read this book if you are satisfied with your life and your faith, and/or if everything makes sense. Nothing bad would happen if you did, only that you won't fully appreciate the essence of Tolstoy's confession. With each word, Tolstoy put a nail in my coffin of a heart. My pain was not only my pain. Someone else had felt the existential failure, the conflict beating against their chest like a caged bird, and finally (Thank God) found God - f There is a time and place for every book. You mustn't read this book if you are satisfied with your life and your faith, and/or if everything makes sense. Nothing bad would happen if you did, only that you won't fully appreciate the essence of Tolstoy's confession. With each word, Tolstoy put a nail in my coffin of a heart. My pain was not only my pain. Someone else had felt the existential failure, the conflict beating against their chest like a caged bird, and finally (Thank God) found God - faith. I can write a whole PhD analyzing his confession (maybe someone already has?) - that's how much I have gained from this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ajim Bagwan

    ★★★★☆ I would recommend this short biographical account of Leo Tolstoy to everyone who has ever had an existential crisis or pondered over the meaning of life. It's an incredibly honest and simplistic description of Tolstoy's own quest in searching for the meaning of life and in deciding if life is worth living and in what ways it differs for different groups of people. He unfolds his reasoning in relation to his life and the lives of others around him by way of a logical and rational analysis. H ★★★★☆ I would recommend this short biographical account of Leo Tolstoy to everyone who has ever had an existential crisis or pondered over the meaning of life. It's an incredibly honest and simplistic description of Tolstoy's own quest in searching for the meaning of life and in deciding if life is worth living and in what ways it differs for different groups of people. He unfolds his reasoning in relation to his life and the lives of others around him by way of a logical and rational analysis. He is eager to delve into different branches of knowledge to find the answers to the questions that plague him. Why does everything there is exist, and why do I exist? What is the purpose and meaning of my life? What will come of my life? Why go on living if we are gonna experience this deception of life and of happiness? When nothing lies ahead other than suffering, destruction and death? He went into despair through these questions in this phase of his life and analyzed the experimental science and philosophy, metaphysics in search of answers. "My life came to a standstill. I could breathe, eat, drink and sleep but there was no life in me because I had no desires whose gratification I would have deemed it reasonable to fulfill. If I wanted something I knew in advance that whether or not I satisfied my desire nothing would come of it. "I wanted nothing. The thought of suicide now came to me as naturally as thoughts of improving my life had previously come to me." He notes that all this was happening when he was surrounded by all things that would be considered happiness. A loving wife, children, large estate, relatives, friends, healthy in mind and body and being at the height of praise by contemporary writers and people. He still couldn't shake the thoughts of the futility of life despite all this. "Today or tomorrow sickness and death will come to those dear to me, and to myself, and nothing will remain other than the stench and the worms. Sooner or later my deeds, whatever they may have been, will be forgotten and will no longer exist. What is all the fuss about then? How can a person carry on living and fail to perceive this? That is what is so astonishing! It is only possible to go on living while you are intoxicated with life; once sober it is impossible not to see that it is all a mere trick, and a stupid trick! That is exactly what it is: there is nothing either witty or amusing, it is only cruel and stupid." He observes how he further sunk deeper into nihilistic thoughts and saw no way out from them. He echoes the thoughts of Solomon, Schopenhauer, Buddha and other philosophers/people who faced similar crisis. He says, "To deceive oneself is pointless. All is vanity. Happy is he who was never born. Death is better than life; one must free oneself from it." He groups the people in the world into different categories with regards to this question of meaning and see that he is one of those weak ones who cling to life that while knowing that it is evil and futile, for they lack the strength to kill themselves and instead wait for something. Upon further analysis and by observing the Epicureans he is able to discern that meaning lies in irrational knowledge and faith is the answer to life. He knowingly chooses to renounce his reason and finds God again, for faith is the only thing which affords him the possibility of living. He sees that the lives of his contemporaries and people of his class were mere indulgences where no meaning was to be found. The meaning was in the lives of peasants and laborers, and it was a truth he could accept. You and I won't be coming to these same conclusions as Tolstoy but if we were to embark on a quest in search of meaning and a reason to live, we would follow a similar path to how Tolstoy went about and could relate to the anguish of that search. Knowing that one of these greatest writers of our time was plagued by these questions which a greater number of people are now facing is comforting and you are most likely to put an end to your own quest by relating to him and others who explored the same. A light autobiographical read for some profound existential musings.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09t... Description: A Confession -- an essay by Leo Tolstoy on his religious thoughts -- shows the great author in process of looking for answers to profound questions that trouble all who take them on: "What will come of my life?" and "What is the meaning of life?" these are questions whose answers were an absolute requirement for Tolstoy. In the course of the essay, Tolstoy shows different attempts to find answers on the examples of science, philosophy, eastern https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09t... Description: A Confession -- an essay by Leo Tolstoy on his religious thoughts -- shows the great author in process of looking for answers to profound questions that trouble all who take them on: "What will come of my life?" and "What is the meaning of life?" these are questions whose answers were an absolute requirement for Tolstoy. In the course of the essay, Tolstoy shows different attempts to find answers on the examples of science, philosophy, eastern wisdom and the opinions of his fellow novelists. . . . finding no workable solution in any of these, Tolstoy recognizes the deep religious convictions of ordinary people as containing the key to true answers. The first attempt at its publication took place in 1882 (Russkaya Mysl, No 5), but Tolstoy's work was removed virtually from the whole edition of the journal by Orthodox Church censorship. The text was later published in Geneva (1884), in Russia as late as 1906 (Vsemirnyj Vestnik, No 1). Faith: A passionate search for the meaning of life The Search for Answers: Can writing and family provide the answer? Read by Joss Ackland. Life and Death: Does death make life pointless? Philosophy: Can philosophy provide an answer? Life Perceptions: Can simply living life provide an answer? Logic: Can doubting logical thoughts lead to an answer? Understanding Faith: Can the irrational knowledge of faith help us? Seeking God: Can the search for God help to provide an answer? Obstacles to Truth: Can reason and belief exist in the same answer? Combining Faith with Reason: Can simplifying faith give us an answer?

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