Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/157

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His certitude is admirable. Tolstoy does not doubt. He does not discuss. The truth is his. He will tell you :

"The Ninth Symphony is a work which causes social disunion."

Again :

" With the exception of the celebrated air for the violin by Bach, the Nocturne in E flat by Chopin, and a dozen pieces, not even entire, chosen from among the works of Hadyn, Mozart, Weber, Beethoven, and Chopin, ... all the rest may be rejected and treated with contempt, as examples of an art which causes social disunion."

Again :

"I am going to prove that Shakespeare cannot be ranked even as a writer of the fourth order. And as a character-painter he is nowhere."

That the rest of humanity is of a different opinion is no reason for hesitating : on the contrary.

" My opinion," he proudly says, " is entirely different from the established opinion concerning Shakespeare throughout Europe."

Obsessed by his hatred of lies, he scents untruth everywhere ; and the more widely an idea is received, the more prickly he becomes in his treatment of it ; he refuses it, suspecting in it, as he says with reference to the fame of Shakespeare, " one of those epidemic influences to which men have always been subject. Such were the Crusades in the Middle Ages, the belief in witchcraft, the search for the philosopher's stone, and the passion for tulips. Men see the folly of these influences

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