Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/58

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learned to eschew sentimentalism, "that vague, feminine, whimpering passion," as he came disdainfully to term it; and his genius for analysis, the instinct for which awoke, as we saw, in the later years of his boyhood, and which was at times to assume a quality almost morbid,[1] never attained to a more hypnotic and poignant intensity than in the narrative of the death of Praskhoukhin. Two whole pages are devoted to the description of all that passed in the mind of the unhappy man during the second following upon the fall of the shell, while the fuse was hissing towards explosion; and one page deals with all that passed before him after it exploded, when "he was killed on the spot by a fragment which struck him full in the chest."

As in the intervals of a drama we hear the occasional music of the orchestra, so these scenes of battle are interrupted by wide glimpses of nature; deep perspectives of light; the symphony of the day dawning upon the splendid landscape, in the midst of which thousands are agonising. Tolstoy the Christian, forgetting the patriotism of his first narrative, curses this impious war:

"And these men, Christians, who profess the

  1. Droujinine, a little later, wrote him a friendly letter in which he sought to put him on his guard against this danger: "You have a tendency to an excessive minuteness of analysis; it may become a serious fault. Sometimes you seem on the point of saying that so-and-so's calf indicated a desire to travel in the Indies. . . . You must restrain this tendency: but do not for the world suppress it." (Letter dated 1856 cited by P. Birukov.)