“If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”

Leo Tolstoy

“The antagonism between life and conscience may be removed in two ways: by a change of life or by a change of conscience.”

Leo Tolstoy

“In historical events great men-so called-are but the labels that serve to give a mane to an event, and like labels, they have the last possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Pierre's insanity consisted in the face that he did not wait, as before, for personal reasons, which he called people's merits, in order to love them, but love overflowed his heart, and loving people without reason, he discovered the unquestionable reasons for which it was worth loving them.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Then he thought himself unhappy, but happiness was all in the future; now he felt that the best happiness was already in the past.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Formerly (it had begun almost from childhood and kept growing till full maturity), whenever he had tried to do something that would be good for everyone, for mankind, for Russia, for the district, for the whole village, he had noticed that thinking about it was pleasant, but the doing itself was always awkward, there was no full assurance that the thing was absolutely necessary, and the doing itself, which at the start had seemed so big, kept diminishing and diminishing, dwindling to nothing; while now, after his marriage, when he began to limit himself more and more to living for himself, though he no longer experienced any joy at the thought of what he was doing, he felt certain that his work was necessary, saw that it turned out much better than before and that it was expanding more and more.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Do not seek quiet and rest in those earthly realms where delusions and desires are engendered, for if thou dost, thou wilt be dragged through the rough wilderness of life, which is far from Me.”

Leo Tolstoy

“All the stories and descriptions of that time without exception peak only of the patriotism, self-sacrifice, despair, grief, and heroism of the Russians. But in reality it was not like that...The majority of the people paid no attention to the general course of events but were influenced only by their immediate personal interests.”

Leo Tolstoy

“There is an old Eastern fable about a traveler who is taken unawares on the steppes by a ferocious wild animal. In order to escape the beast the traveler hides in an empty well, but at the bottom of the well he sees a dragon with its jaws open, ready to devour him. The poor fellow does not dare to climb out because he is afraid of being eaten by the rapacious beast, neither does he dare drop to the bottom of the well for fear of being eaten by the dragon. So he seizes hold of a branch of a bush that is growing in the crevices of the well and clings on to it. His arms grow weak and he knows that he will soon have to resign himself to the death that awaits him on either side. Yet he still clings on, and while he is holding on to the branch he looks around and sees that two mice, one black and one white, are steadily working their way round the bush he is hanging from, gnawing away at it. Sooner or later they will eat through it and the branch will snap, and he will fall into the jaws of the dragon. The traveler sees this and knows that he will inevitably perish. But while he is still hanging there he sees some drops of honey on the leaves of the bush, stretches out his tongue and licks them. In the same way I am clinging to the tree of life, knowing full well that the dragon of death inevitably awaits me, ready to tear me to pieces, and I cannot understand how I have fallen into this torment. And Itry licking the honey that once consoled me, but it no longer gives me pleasure. The white mouse and the black mouse – day and night – are gnawing at the branch from which I am hanging. I can see the dragon clearly and the honey no longer tastes sweet. I can see only one thing; the inescapable dragon and the mice, and I cannot tear my eyes away from them. And this is no fable but the truth, the truth that is irrefutable and intelligible to everyone.

Leo Tolstoy

“Real science studies and makes accessible that knowledge which people at that period of history think important, and real art transfers this truth from the domain of knowledge to the domain of feelings.”

Leo Tolstoy

“And he has to live like this on the edge of destruction, alone, with nobody at all to understand or pity him”

Leo Tolstoy

“Like the majority of irreproachably virtuous women, wearying often of the monotony of a virtuous life, Dolly from a distance excused illicit love, and even envied it a little.

Leo Tolstoy

“You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.”

Leo Tolstoy

“In that brief glance Vronsky had time to notice the restrained animation that played over her face and fluttered between her shining eyes and the barely noticeable smile that curved her red lips. It was as if a surplus of something so overflowed her being that it expressed itself beyond her will, now in the brightness of her glance, now in her smile.”

Leo Tolstoy

“The best solution is to be kind and good while ignoring the opinions of others.”

Leo Tolstoy


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