Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/180

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heard these words and repeated them to himself. 'Death no longer exists,' he told himself."

In The Kreutzer Sonata there is not even this "ray of light." It is a ferocious piece of work; Tolstoy lashes out at society like a wounded beast avenging itself for what it has suffered. We must not forget that the story is the confession of a human brute, who has taken life, and who is poisoned by the virus of jealousy. Tolstoy hides himself behind his leading character. We certainly find his own ideas, though heightened in tone, in these furious invectives against hypocrisy in general; the hypocrisy of the education of women, of love, of marriage—marriage, that "domestic prostitution"; the hypocrisy of the world, of science, of physicians those "sowers of crime." But the hero of the book impels the writer into an extraordinary brutality of expression, a violent rush of carnal images—all the excesses of a luxurious body—and, by reaction into all the fury of asceticism, the fear and hatred of the passions; maledictions hurled in the face of life by a monk of the Middle Ages, consumed with sensuality. Having written the book Tolstoy himself was alarmed:

"I never foresaw at all," he said in the Epilogue to the Kreutzer Sonata"[1] that in writing this book a rigorous logic would bring me where I have arrived. My own conclusions terrified me at first, and I was

tempted to reject them; but it was impossible for

  1. A French translation of this Epilogue (Postface), by M. Halpérine-Kaminsky was published in the volume Plaisirs vicieux, under the title Des relations entrc les sexes.