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Leo Tolstoi

Reading Books

April 7th, 8 A.M. 1847. Until recently I never kept a diary, for I never could see the use of one; but, now, that I am developing my faculties, a diary will help me to judge of that development's progress. Hence the diary must contain a table of rules. Also, it must define my future activities.

For the 29th. From 5 to 10, write; from 10 to 2, business matters; from 2 to 4, gymnastics; from 4 to 6, dinner; from 6 to 8, writing; from 8 to 10, Volkonski.

March 29th. In my writing showed sloth and haste; in my business affairs absence of mind; in my gymnastics faintheartedness. Dined, did no writing at all, and visited Volkonski and Kulikovski; was minded to play at little.

Hope is bad for the happy man, and good for the unhappy. I have gained much since the day when first I began to occupy myself. Yet I am greatly dissatisfied, for the further one goes in the task of perfecting oneself, the more faults are detected. Well has Socrates said that the supreme stage in man's perfection is knowledge that there is nothing of which he has knowledge.

A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure in which he reveals to us the inner working of his soul, of course, if this work is new, and not previously accomplished. No matter what he may write, a drama, a learned work, a story, a philosophic treatise, a lyric poem, a criticism, a satire, it is only this inner work of his soul which is dear to us, and not the architectural structure in which he, for the most part, and I think, always, distorting them, clothes his thoughts and feelings.

I have long ago formed a rule to judge every artistic production from three sides: (I) from the side of its con tents, in how far that which is revealed by the artist from a new side is important and necessary for men, be-cause every production is a production of art only when it reveals a new side of life; (2) to what extent the form of the production is good, beautiful, and in correspondence with the contents; and (3) in how far the relation of the artist to his subject is sincere, that is, in how far he believes in what he represents. This last quality always seems to me to be the most important one in an artistic production. It gives to an artistic production its force, makes an artistic production infectious, that is evokes in the hearer and reader those sensations which the artist experiences.

Thus, if a man considers his life to be his, and its end to be the worldly good, for himself or for other men, this life can have for him no rational meaning. Life receives a rational meaning only when a man understands that the recognition of his life as his own, and the good of personality, of his own or that of others, as its end, is an error, and that the human life does not belong to him, who has received this life from some one, but to Him who produced this life, and so its end must not consist in the attainment of his own good or of the good of others, but only in the fulfilment of the will of Him who produced it. Only with such a comprehension of life does it receive a rational meaning, and its end, which consists in the fulfilment of God's will, become attainable, and, above all, only with such a comprehension does man's activity become clearly defined, and he no longer is subject to despair and suffering, which were inevitable with his former comprehension.

Now it is summer, and, as usual, life fills me with transport and I forget to work. This year I have struggled for a long time, but the beauty of the world has conquered me.

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