Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/109

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War and Peace. It may also be said that the perfect realism of certain of the pictures—the aristocratic circles of St. Petersburg and their idle discourse—is now and again superfluous and unnecessary. Finally, and more openly than in War and Peace, Tolstoy has presented his own moral character and his philosophic ideas side by side with the spectacle of life. None the less, the work is of a marvellous richness. There is the same profusion of types as in War and Peace, and all are of a striking justness. The portraits of the men seem to me even superior. Tolstoy has depicted with evident delight the amiable egoist, Stepan Arcadievitch, whom no one can look at without responding to his affectionate smile, and Karenin, the perfect type of the high official, the distinguished and commonplace statesman, with his mania for concealing his real opinions and feelings under a mask of perpetual irony: a mixture of dignity and cowardice, of Phariseeism and Christian feeling: a strange product of an artificial world, from which he can never completely free himself in spite of his intelligence and his true generosity; a man afraid to listen to his own heart, and rightly so afraid, since when he does surrender to it, he ends by falling into a state of nonsensical mysticism.

But the principal interest of the romance, besides the tragedy of Anna and the varied pictures of Russian society towards 1860—of salons, officers' clubs, balls, theatres, races—lies in its autobiographical character. More than any other