Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/11

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to the influence of George Sand; but we cannot deny the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and of Stendhal; nevertheless, we belittle the greatness we attribute them to his ideas. The circle of ideas in which art moves and has its being is a narrow one. It is not in those ideas that his might resides, but in his expression of them; in the personal accent, the imprint of the artist, the colour and savour of his life.

Whether Tolstoy’s ideas were or were not borrowed—a matter to be presently considered—never yet had a voice like to his resounded throughout Europe. How else can we explain the thrill of emotion which we all of us felt upon hearing that psychic music, that harmony for which we had so long waited, and of which we felt the need? In our opinion the style counted for nothing. Most of us, myself included, made the acquaintance of Melchior de Vogüé’s work on the subject of the Russian novel[1] after we had read the novels of Tolstoy; and his admiration of our hero seemed, after ours, a pallid thing. M. de Vogüé spoke essentially as a man of letters pure and simple. But for our part it was not enough to admire the presentation of life: we lived it; it was our own. Ours it was by its ardent love of life, by its quality of youth; ours by its irony, its disillusion, its pitiless discernment, and its haunting sense of mortality. Ours by its dreams of brotherly love, of peace among men; ours by its terrible accusation of the lies of civilisation; ours

  1. Le Roman russe.