Page:Tolstoy - Tales from Tolstoi.djvu/31

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Biography

such a one as Nikolai Nikolaevich?" From henceforth the shadow of death falls across his finest pages, and he is possessed by a constantly deepening feeling of the futility of life and the emptiness of the best that it can offer. Even art lost its charm for him." Art is a lie, and I cannot love a lie however beautiful," is his summing up of the whole matter. It was in this morbidly gloomy frame of mind that he wrote "Lucerne" and "Albert," surely the most pessimistic productions of modern fiction.

Tolstoi's second Continental tour was a voyage of instruction. His alert, receptive, and thorough-going nature laid all branches of foreign learning under contribution. First he visited Berlin to attend the lectures of Droysen and Du Bois Raymond, and study the Prussian penal system, being a frequent visitor at the Moabit Prison, where the solitary confinement system chiefly occupied his attention. He also carefully investigated the various trade unions founded by Schulze-Delitsch, and made the acquaintance of the celebrated pedagogue Diesterweg, who struck him as somewhat "hard and dry." Thence he proceeded to Dresden, where he diligently inspected all the principal schools, and paid a sudden and alarming visit on Auerbach, who happened at that time to be his favourite author. Tolstoi abruptly introduced himself as Eugen Bauman, one of Auerbach's characters; but the author of the "Schwarzwälder Dorfgeschichten," was more frightened than flattered by the unlooked-for inroad of the grim, bizarre-looking young Muscovite, and even Tolstoi's compliment, "Your books have made me think

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