Art and Faith

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Ivan Kramskoi. A Portrait of the Author Graf L N Tolstoy. 1873

Ivan Kramskoi. A Portriat of the Author L N Tolstoy. 1873

A Portrait of the Author Graf L N Tolstoy

Ivan Kramskoi



Most portrayals of Tolstoy (1828-1910) in the West show him in his old age. This portrayal is from a period midway between his two masterwork novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1879). Tolstoy has a larger reputation in the West than he does in Russia. In Orthodox circles, he is rather a sorry figure, as he ended his life as a heretic, who refused the last rites of the Church. Indeed, this is one of the reasons for his wide repute in the secular West. He was a man who undoubtedly had talent, but he was a heretic; we should never forget that fact. If you wish to read great literature, read Dostoyevsky. In fact, a preference for Dostoyevsky or for Tolstoy is a good litmus test. Most real Orthodox Christians prefer Dostoyevsky, most Orthodox who have taken on the morés of secularism or the Western confessions prefer Tolstoy. I have found it most accurate.


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