The Kingdom of God Is within You

Overview

Published in 1884, 'The kingdom of God is within you' is perhaps Tolstoy's most significant work of non-fiction. Due to the Russian censors, it was first published in Germany, but its dominant idea of non-violence echoed across the international stage throughout the 20th century.
In essence, the book is a defence by Tolstoy of the position on non-violence he adopted in 'My Religion'; and therefore also an assault on the Orthodox Church. 'Nowhere,' says Tolstoy, 'is there ...
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The Kingdom of God Is Within You

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Overview

Published in 1884, 'The kingdom of God is within you' is perhaps Tolstoy's most significant work of non-fiction. Due to the Russian censors, it was first published in Germany, but its dominant idea of non-violence echoed across the international stage throughout the 20th century.
In essence, the book is a defence by Tolstoy of the position on non-violence he adopted in 'My Religion'; and therefore also an assault on the Orthodox Church. 'Nowhere,' says Tolstoy, 'is there evidence that God or Christ founded anything like what churchmen understand by the Church.' And in what it now proclaimed, Tolstoy believed the church was wasting its time: 'The activity of the church consists in forcing, by every means in its power, upon millions Russian people, those antiquated, time-worn beliefs which have lost all significance.'
Freshly informed by Quaker ideals of non-violence; and full of both story telling and rhetoric, here is Tolstoy calling for a change in consciousness in society. He does not accept that 'this social order, with its pauperism, famines, prisons, gallows, armies and wars, is necessary to society.' That which is, is not that which must be.
Rooted in the Sermon on the Mount, Tolstoy's Christianity is not primarily concerned with worship or salvation, but with a new way of behaving in society - behaviour informed by the pointlessness and sin of violence. Tolstoy tellingly reflects on the army at work - whether in internal repression or in national wars - and asks: 'How can you kill people when it is written in God's commandment 'Thou shall not murder?'
Gandhi was 'overwhelmed' by the book, said 'it left an abiding impression', and in time, a correspondence started between the two men. The book convinced Gandhi that Hinduism and Christianity were one and the same at their core, and informed his passive resistance first in South Africa and then India; and later, of course, that of Martin Luther King in the USA.

Simon Parke, author of The One Minute Mystic

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Editorial Reviews

Ernest J. Simmons

"A highly significant book."—Ernest J. Simmons, Leo Tolstoy
Henri Troyat

"The keystone of Tolstoy’s entire ethical structure."—Henri Troyat, Tolstoy
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781458953346
  • Publisher: General Books LLC
  • Publication date: 8/4/2009
  • Pages: 142
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Tolstoy was born in Yasnaya Polyana, the family estate in the Tula region of Russia. The Tolstoys were a well-known family of old Russian nobility; he was connected to the grandest of Russian aristocracy. Pushkin was his fourth cousin.
He was the fourth of five children of Countess Mariya Tolstaya (Volkonskaya). Tolstoy's parents died when he was young, so he and his siblings were brought up by relatives. In 1844, he began studying law and oriental languages at Kazan University. His teachers described him as "both unable and unwilling to learn." Tolstoy left university in the middle of his studies, returned to Yasnaya Polyana and then spent much of his time in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In 1851, after running up heavy gambling debts, he went with his elder brother to the Caucasus and joined the army. Around this time, he started writing.

Biography

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before traveling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879–82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home "leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude;" he died some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Books LTD.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 9, 1828
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tula Province, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      November 20, 1910
    2. Place of Death:
      Astapovo, Russia

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2006

    For non-Christians and Heretics

    I read this book about 3 years ago. It changed my life because I felt that Tolstoy saw the same thing I saw in Christianity which is the Sermon on the mount.I abandoned my catholic faith because of it. But now I believe in the Church again. What I can't understand about Tolstoy and other modernist heretics is that why do they concede only so much of their 'faith' to 'reason'? Like why believe in God and heaven and stop with the trinity and the incarnation? Why believe in Mt. 5-7 and stop with the rest of the gospel? Because of Reason? What to me doesn't make sense is believing in God, Heaven, sermon on the mount and then believe that for some stupid reason the early Christians made up the rest and even suffered persecution and death for their fables. This book is a good book about life in the late 19th century but it is a Heresy. Just because something is mysterious doesn't mean it is absurd. Life is mysterious but it can still made sense out of and doesn't have to be absurd just because some 19th/20th century philosopher said so. Poor Tolstoy for not being reasonable enough to see all of this.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2004

    A must Read

    This is one of the greatest works ever written. It outlines the corruption manifested in many organized religions and challenges the readers to search for their own Kingdom of God within themselves. It's no wonder that many of the churches and governments banned this work which was a challenge to their own belief system. The reader may be shocked that this does not read like a novel which Tolstoy is most known for. Of all the great works that Tolstoy has written, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Haji Murad, The Death of Ivan Illyich, this IS his best work. I would reccomend to the reader to buy 3 or 4 copies of this book and give it as a gift to friends or family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 9, 2009

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    Posted March 29, 2009

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    Posted February 20, 2010

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