Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/73

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

found in the writer's beautiful landscapes. Taking it as a whole, we hardly know how far it is intended as a work of art for the sake of art, or whether it has a moral intention.

Tolstoy himself did not know. On the 4th of February, 1858, when he read his essay of admittance before the Muscovite Society of Amateurs of Russian Literature, he chose for his subject the defence of art for art's sake.[1] It was the president of the Society, Khomiakov, who, after saluting in Tolstoy "the representative of purely artistic literature," took up the defence of social and moral art.[2]

A year later the death of his dearly-loved brother, Nikolas, who succumbed to phthisis[3] at Hyeres, on the 19th of September, 1860, completely overcame

  1. Lecture on The Superiority of the Artistic Element in Literature over all its Contemporary Tendencies.
  2. He cited against Tolstoy his own examples, including the old postilion in The Three Deaths.
  3. We may remark that another brother, Dmitri, had already died of the same disease in 1856. Tolstoy himself believed that he was attacked by it in 1856, in 1862, and in 1871. He was, as he writes (the 28th of October, 1852), "of a strong constitution, but feeble in health." He constantly suffered from chills, sore throats, toothache, inflamed eyes, and rheumatism. In the Caucasus, in 1852, he had "two days in the week at least to keep his room." Illness stopped him for several months in 1854, on the road from Silistria to Sebastopol. In 1856, at Yasnaya, he was seriously ill with an affection of the lungs. In 1862 the fear of phthisis induced him to undergo a Koumiss cure at Samara, where he lived with the Bachkirs, and after 1870 he returned thither almost yearly. His correspondence with Fet is full of preoccupations