Penguin Classics £9.99
Last Steps: The Last Writings of Leo Tolstoy, trs Jay Parini
Sunday 06 December 2009
It's either a brave man or a foolish man who describes feeling "an insuperable repulsion and tedium" on reading the plays of Shakespeare; the "vulgarity" of some characters; and the "inflated characterless style in which King Lear – like all Shakespeare's kings – talks". But by this point in his life, Tolstoy had eschewed his wilder, younger days to embrace religion and morality in his old age, and Shakespeare, he had decided, wasn't moral enough for him to appreciate. That is not to say he embraced the established Church – that gets it in the neck too, for forgetting its link to ordinary men.
Ever the novelist, though, Tolstoy's recourse to vignettes to illustrate his arguments, in these essays, does help to break up the monotony of his didactic prose. However, I would have found his explanation for his sudden conversion to religion ("'He exists,' said I to myself. And I had only for a minute to admit that, and at once life rose within me") unconvincing if it had happened in one of his novels, never mind in real life.
Arts & Ents blogs
Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and Lady Gaga attacked by Noel Gallagher in 2013 music rant
Sir Elton John lashes out at Russia’s anti-gay laws in Moscow show
Doctor Who Christmas special 2013: New pictures released of Matt Smith's finale
Grace Dent on TV: Imagine – Who’s Afraid of Machiavelli?
- 1 Cameron's freebie to apartheid South Africa
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 4 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 5 People will try to reduce Mandela to a lilting reggae tune about ‘love’. They will fail
- < Previous
- Next >