“Prince Andrei was one of the best dancers of his day. Natasha danced exquisitely. Her little feet in their satin dancing shoes performed their role swiftly, lightly, as if they had wings, while her face was radiant and ecstatic with happiness.”

Leo Tolstoy

“A wound in the soul, coming from the rending of the spiritual body, strange as it may seem, gradually closes like a physical wound. And once a deep wound heals over and the edges seem to have knit, a wound in the soul, like a physical wound, can be healed only by the force of life pushing up from inside.This was the way Natasha's wound healed. She thought her life was over. But suddenly her love for her mother showed her that the essence of life - love - was still alive in her. Love awoke, and life awoke.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Constant idleness should be included in the tortures of hell, but it is, on the contrary, considered to be one of the joys of paradise.”

Leo Tolstoy

“Between Countess Nordston and Levin there had been established those relations, not infrequent in society, in which two persons, while ostensibly remaining on friendly terms, are contemptuous of each other to such a degree that they cannot even treat each other seriously and cannot even insult each one another.”

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

“Life meanwhile, the actual life of men with their real interests of health and sickness, labour and rest, with their interests of thought, science, poetry, music, love, affection, hatred, passion, went its way, as always, independently, apart from the political amity or enmity of Napoleon Bonaparte, and apart from all possible reforms.”

Leo Tolstoy

“How strange, extraordinary, and joyful it was to her to think that her son - the little son, whose tiny limbs had faintly stirred within her twenty years ago, for whose sake she had so often quarreled with the count, who would spoil him, the little son, who had first learnt to say grusha, and then had learnt to say baba - that that son was now in a foreign land, in strange surroundings, a manly warrior, alone without help or guidance, doing there his proper manly work. All the world-wide experience of ages, proving that children do imperceptibly from the cradle grow up into men, did not exist for the countess. The growth of her son had been for her at every strage of his growth just as extraordinary as though millions of millions of men had not grown up in the same way. Just as, twenty years before, she could not believe that the little creature that was lying somewhere under her heart, would one day cry and learn to talk, now she could not believe that the same little creature could be that strong, brave man, that paragon of sons and of men that, judging by this letter, he was now.”

Leo Tolstoy

“in infinite space and time everything develops, becomes more perfect and more complex, is differentiated",is to say nothing at all. Those are all words with no meaning, for in the infinite is neither complex nor simple, no forward nor backward, or better or worse.”

Leo Tolstoy

“it's much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.”

Leo Tolstoy

“• A man in motion always devises an aim for that motion. To be able to go a thousand miles he must imagine that something good awaits him at the end of those thousand miles. One must have the prospect of a promised land to have the strength to move.”

Leo Tolstoy

“To tell the truth is very difficult, and young people are rarely capable of it.”

Leo Tolstoy

“The social conditions of life can only be improved by people exercising self-restraint.”

Leo Tolstoy

“He knew she was there by the joy and terror that took possession of his heart [...] Everything was lit up by her. She was the smile that brightened everything around.”

Leo Tolstoy

“The combination of causes of phenomena is beyond the grasp of the human intellect. But the impulse to seek causes is innate in the soul of man. And the human intellect, with no inkling of the immense variety and complexity of circumstances conditioning a phenomenon, any one of which may be separately conceived of as the cause of it, snatches at the first and most easily understood approximation, and says here is the cause.”

Leo Tolstoy

“A better life can only come when the consciousness of men is altered for the better; and therefore, those who wish to improve life must direct all their efforts towards changing both their own and other people’s consciousness.”

Leo Tolstoy


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