Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/12

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.



by its realism; by its mysticism ours; by its savour of nature, its sense of invisible forces, its vertigo in the face of the infinite.

To many of us the novels of Tolstoy were what Werther was to an earlier generation: the wonderful mirror of our passions, our strength, our weaknesses, of our hopes, our terrors, our discouragement. We were in no wise anxious to reconcile these many contradictions; still less did we concern ourselves to imprison this complex, multiple mind, full of echoes of the whole wide world, within the narrow limits of religious or political categories, as have the greater number of those who have written of Tolstoy in these latter years: incapable of extricating themselves from the conflict of parties, dragging him into the arena of their own passions, measuring him by the standards of their socialistic or clerical coteries. As if our coteries could be the measure of a genius! What is it to me if Tolstoy is or is not of my party? Shall I ask of what party Shakespeare was, or Dante, before I breathe the atmosphere of his magic or steep myself in its light?

We did not say, as do the critics of to-day, that there were two Tolstoys: the Tolstoy of the period before the crisis and he of the period after the crisis; that the one was the great artist, while the other was not an artist at all. For us there was only one Tolstoy, and we loved the whole of him; for we felt, instinctively, that in such souls as his all things are bound together and each has its integral place.