by Leo Tolstoy
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Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy

Published in 1900, ‘Resurrection’ is Tolstoy’s final large-scale novel. It’s a morally-driven tale of personal redemption, featuring fewer characters than either War and Peace or Anna Karenina. Here we focus on one man and a single story line that spirals around a long-forgotten incident in his youth, which turns out to have had tragic consequences for another.
The hero is the young St Petersburg aristocrat, Prince Dmitri. Having seduced a woman – Katyusha - and made her pregnant, he’d left her on her on her own and had thought no more about her until ten years later, he finds himself on a jury trying her for murder. It becomes apparent that her life fell apart after their brief liaison; the baby died, and she drifted into alcoholism and prostitution. As he hears the story, Dmitri feels personally responsible for all that has happened, and after Katyusha is unjustly sent to Siberia, he begins a spiritual journey to save both her and himself. Can he ever make up for what he did to her all those years ago?

It’s a quest which takes him to the highest offices in the land and to the bleakest prisons, as the absurdities and inequalities of pre-revolution Russia are savagely exposed. Dmitri uncovers a moral wasteland of vested interest and uncaring attitudes, with Tolstoy particularly hostile towards the Orthodox Church, which excommunicated him a year later, and the Russian penal system. Just as Dickens did in England, Tolstoy exposes the misery of the Russian under-class, but he’s less sentimental than Dickens and angrier. And there are echoes here of another voice as well. As Boyd Tonkin said, ‘Nowhere does Tolstoy sound closer in spirit to his old foe, Dostoyevsky.’

There is an interesting back-story to the book itself. Though finished in 1899 and published in 1900, it was started ten years previously in 1889, and might never have been completed but for Tolstoy’s desire to help raise funds for the persecuted Doukhobor sect. The royalties from the book were given to the Doukhabors to fund their emigration to Canada.

In the Doukhabors, (which literally means, ‘spiritual wrestlers’) Tolstoy found an antidote to the religion and society he denounces in ‘Resurrection’; and a living embodiment of his own religious and social ideas. Here were a people committed to honest toil, living off the land, communal sharing, pacifist principles and the teachings of Christ in deed. As Tolstoy wrote in one of his many letters to them, ‘You are taking the lead and many are grateful to you for that. There is so much I’d like to tell you, and so much to learn from you.’

The book continues to divide literary opinion. As a conduit for both beautiful writing and naked sermonising, ‘Resurrection’ is not a novel that invites the reader to make up their own mind. Instead, here is the raw energy of rage which finally erupted in the volcano that was the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013566385
Publisher: White Crow Productions Ltd
Publication date: 03/02/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 548
File size: 666 KB

About the Author

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, better known as Leo Tolstoy, is rightly regarded as one of the greatest writers in the history of literature and his masterpieces, ‘War And Peace’ and ‘Anna Karenina’, are considered by many to be two of the most important novels ever written.

‘War And Peace’, published in 1869, and ‘Anna Karenina’, published in 1878, were universally recognised as great works, but not long after the publication of the latter Tolstoy began to slip into an existentialist crisis. Although not suicidal in the literal sense of the term he did, however, decide that if he could find no reason or purpose for his existence he would rather die and so went about searching for a reason to live. He consulted his many friends in high places who espoused various intellectual theories but none of these sat well with him. Just as he was beginning to give up he had a dream that proved to be a moment of clarity and decided that God in a spiritual sense was the reason to keep on, though he was wary of the church and those that abused religion as a tool of oppression.

He published ‘A Confession’ in 1882 which explained his crisis and his resolution and how it came about. Two subsequent books, ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich’ and ‘What Then Must We Do?’, further re-enforced his views in which he criticised the Russian Orthodox Church.

The culmination of his 30 years of religious and philosophical thinking was ‘The Kingdom Of God Is Within you’ which was published in 1894. In the book he outlined the abuses of those in power in both the church and the government and this would eventually lead to his excommunication from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1901. Tolstoy’s main point derived from Jesus’ teachings to ‘turn the other cheek’ and Tolstoy believed that this was the key to Christ’s message which can be found in the Gospels and the ‘Sermon On The Mount’ in particular. The book would make a profound impact on Mahatma Gandhi who read it as a young man whilst living in South Africa.
‘The Kingdom Of God Is Within You’ and ‘A Letter To A Hindu’ solidified Gandhi’s non-violent idea of rebellion which came to fruition in 1947 when British rule came to an end. Gandhi and Tolstoy continuie their correspondence up until Tolstoy’s death in 1910.

Date of Birth:

September 9, 1828

Date of Death:

November 20, 1910

Place of Birth:

Tula Province, Russia

Place of Death:

Astapovo, Russia


Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47

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Resurrection (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book is an excellent synopsis of what goes on in a mans mind as his conscience struggles with his humanity. Tolstoy, by this stage in his life, has a firm grasp of mans depravity and the ramifications of it. This book can be very helpful in realizing that all of our actions have consequences!!! We are not just out to acheive our own pleasures. Life is about our eternal soul, and how we live here on this earth determines our eternal destiny. Please read this great work.
NooksterBS More than 1 year ago
I love this author and have read most of his writings. This was just like him, moving and heart felt. This is a classic we all need to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read this book in korean and i loved much..and i tried reading in English and i loved it too.I think if you are a good reader you should try reading this book.....=_=but if you are not then try in another time~good luck~^^v
Anonymous 9 months ago
HUMAN nature hasn't improved over the years, sad but true.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did the posts disapear?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The small she cat slide through the bushes her eyes werry looking of the cats thy were a bright Yellow tha stook out in the bushes but wachedthem keeping quite
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Purred and padded over to the fresh-kill pile and took a small rabbit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waited for Amberstar to let him give the assesment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The elderly cat huffed and looked at the newcomers. "Huh." She mumbled.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She looked over at Emberpaw. "Maybe Lightening can take you out for your Warrior assessment."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Main Base
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