Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/79

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CHAPTER VII

"FAMILY HAPPINESS"

From this period of transition, during which the genius of the man was feeling its way blindly, doubtful of itself and apparently exhausted, "devoid of strong passion, without a directing will," like Nekhludov in the Diary of a Sportsman—from this period issued a work unique in its tenderness and charm: Family Happiness (1859). This was the miracle of love.

For many years Tolstoy had been on friendly terms with the Bers family. He had fallen in love with the mother and the three daughters in succession.[1] His final choice fell upon the second, but he dared not confess it. Sophie Andreyevna Bers was still a child; she was seventeen years old, while Tolstoy was over thirty; he regarded himself as an old man, who had not the right to associate his soiled and vitiated life with that of an innocent

  1. When a child he had, in a fit of jealousy, pushed from a balcony the little girl—then aged nine—who afterwards became Madame Bers, with the result that she was lame for several years.