Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/105

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genius. The great work, "War and Peace," gradually evolved. There were many difficulties and obstacles, but he overcame them by the power of his genius, now aroused to full activity. From letters to his friends we see the various stages through which the work passed to its completion:

"I am in a very anxious state of mind. I am writing nothing, though working hard. You cannot imagine how difficult for me is the preliminary work of ploughing deeply the field where I must sow. I must think, and think again, over what may happen to all the personages of my future large work, and to consider millions of possible combinations, and choose from them the millionth part. It is extremely difficult. That is what I am occupied with."

In a later letter to Fet he writes:

"This autumn I made enough progress with my novel. Ars longa, vita brevis. I am thinking every day. If one could do the one hundredth part of what one intends! But, in reality, only one millionth part is accomplished. Nevertheless, the conviction that he can write brings happiness to the author. You know this feeling. This year I feel it stronger than ever."

At the very height of this period of hard work,