Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/99

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

oscillate perpetually, rather than evolve; they run from one extreme to the other, yet never advance. One may, of course, reply that in this they are thoroughly Russian. I find, however, that Russians have criticised them in similar terms. Tourgenev doubtless had them in mind when he complained that Tolstoy's psychology was a stationary matter. "No real development. Eternal hesitations: oscillations of feeling."[1] Tolstoy himself admitted that he had at times rather sacrificed the individual character to the historical design.[2]

It is true, in fact, that the glory of War and Peace resides in the resurrection of a complete historical period, with its national migrations, its warfare of peoples. Its true heroes are these peoples; and behind them, as behind the heroes of Homer, the gods who lead them; the forces, invisible, "infinitely small, which direct the masses" the breath of the Infinite. These gigantic conflicts, in which a hidden destiny hurls the blind nations together, have a mythical grandeur. Our thoughts go beyond the

Iliad: we are reminded of the Hindu epics.

  1. Letter of February 2, 1868, cited by Birukov.
  2. Notably, he said, that of Prince Andrei in the first part.