On Life

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

Tolstoy is a master story teller, a wonderful novelist, and a true observer of humanity.  But, his ability as a philosopher may leave something to be desired.  The rooting of his philosophy of life is in a misunderstanding of the purpose and value of science.  There is an over simplification in his conception of what science is doing and how it is doing it.  Granted, he is writing about science in the late 19th century - but this means that the foundations of his philosophy has not aged well.  Now, with all this said, his philosophy and what he identifies as the purpose of life will still be recognized as a universal truth to many; the purpose of life according to Tolstoy is love - pure, selfless love.  I, personally, take issue with the translator/editor's view, shared by Tolstoy, that this work should be included in the pantheon of great philosophers.  The fact that this is the first English translation and printing of this work since the early 20th century would probably go far to back me up in this assessment. The first third of this book is the editor trying to situate this work on par with the great 19th century philosophers.  The middle half is the actual work by Tolstoy, and the final fifth is contextualizing primary source documents.  If you are a Tolstoy completest or highly enjoy philosophy this book is a must read for an orientation to the frame of mind that Tolstoy had during his highly influential life.  The writing (and translation) is solid and easy to read for anyone, regardless of facility with philosophical writings.
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Essential reading for anyone interesting in Tolstoy and his philosophy. Tolstoy is often underrated for his philosophical writings but it is how he started out. I'd echo the value of re-reading this. Great edition.
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This is my first reading of Tolstoy and I was not disappointed. I will be reading more of his work. Tolstoy observes and analyzes death in a way that is completely human. He has a deep perception of human life and what it means to suffer. Very enjoyable, but there is a lot in this book. I will be returning again and again to reread this one. 
ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Wonderful, accessible translation. Having developed a love of Russian literature in my teen years it was interesting to visit this work by such a master of human nature, offering insight into the way Tolstoy considered life and death and providing much food for thought. This is a book that would benefit from repeated readings as there is so much here, it can feel quite dense in places, but frequently engaging with interesting ideas.
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A great collection on the philosophy of life. There is a lot to unpack in the pages of anything Tolstoy has written.
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I have been a big fan of Tolstoy since High School This new collection is no doubt as relevant today as it was a century ago. Tolstoy's writing is timeless and in today's current political climate, necessary. His human truths are insightful, reflective and delicate.
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A beautiful translation for Tolstoy's key meditation on what it means to be fundamentally human: death. Tolstoy examines death in a way that is wholly human, which is no surprise given his ability to craft characters such as Pierre Bezoukov and Andrei Bolkonsky. Clearly, he has a profound understanding of the human condition and what it means to suffer, and what it means to be retributed by our personal suffering. If there was anyone, no matter how long ago published, you could look into to offer a profound work of that which is profoundly human as death, it would be Tolstoy, which he proves in this piece.
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