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Thread: Indifferent to Tolstoy: What's Wrong With Me?

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    Philosophaster Climacus's Avatar
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    Indifferent to Tolstoy: What's Wrong With Me?

    Now, I've read a smattering of Tolstoy - several of the short stories and War and Peace - and from the first I found myself indifferent. It's not that I find him boring. I read, engaged, but am not really affected. It's obviously good writing. No doubts there. At times Tolstoy is philosophically profound too. Still, I just finish with a shrug. So, what's wrong with me?

    (I generally like Russian literature by the way. Dostoevsky is one of my favourite novelists, Gogol makes me laugh, Chekhov plays appeal to me . . . )

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    www.markbastable.co.uk MarkBastable's Avatar
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    It's possible you suffer from an allergy to pompous po-facedness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Climacus View Post
    Now, I've read a smattering of Tolstoy - several of the short stories and War and Peace - and from the first I found myself indifferent. It's not that I find him boring. I read, engaged, but am not really affected. It's obviously good writing. No doubts there. At times Tolstoy is philosophically profound too. Still, I just finish with a shrug. So, what's wrong with me?

    (I generally like Russian literature by the way. Dostoevsky is one of my favourite novelists, Gogol makes me laugh, Chekhov plays appeal to me . . . )
    To be indifferent to Tolstoy is impossible for me at least and he was a legendary figure and can be compared with some of the best in the world and there are not single stories that did not touch me and his novels too are really greatly moving. I have read Anna Karenna and his other novels, though I have never completed his War & Peace I always become fascinated by his masterful works and he was a literary giant no serious readers of literature can ignore

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Climacus View Post
    Now, I've read a smattering of Tolstoy - several of the short stories and War and Peace - and from the first I found myself indifferent. It's not that I find him boring. I read, engaged, but am not really affected. It's obviously good writing. No doubts there. At times Tolstoy is philosophically profound too. Still, I just finish with a shrug. So, what's wrong with me?
    Nothing. You recognize the quality, but the style or genre isn't what moves you. Never think something's wrong with you just because one person's (or many people's) brand of art doesn't work for you.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Climacus View Post
    Now, I've read a smattering of Tolstoy - several of the short stories and War and Peace - and from the first I found myself indifferent. It's not that I find him boring. I read, engaged, but am not really affected. It's obviously good writing. No doubts there. At times Tolstoy is philosophically profound too. Still, I just finish with a shrug. So, what's wrong with me?

    (I generally like Russian literature by the way. Dostoevsky is one of my favourite novelists, Gogol makes me laugh, Chekhov plays appeal to me . . . )
    I'd have to agree with you. I recognize Tolstoy as a great writer and enjoyed War and Peace - but I'm not clambering to read Anna Karenina now. When it comes to Russian lit, I prefer Dostoevsky.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calidore View Post
    Nothing. You recognize the quality, but the style or genre isn't what moves you. Never think something's wrong with you just because one person's (or many people's) brand of art doesn't work for you.
    I agree. It just may not be your style.

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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Climacus View Post
    Now, I've read a smattering of Tolstoy - several of the short stories and War and Peace - and from the first I found myself indifferent. It's not that I find him boring. I read, engaged, but am not really affected. It's obviously good writing. No doubts there. At times Tolstoy is philosophically profound too. Still, I just finish with a shrug. So, what's wrong with me?

    (I generally like Russian literature by the way. Dostoevsky is one of my favourite novelists, Gogol makes me laugh, Chekhov plays appeal to me . . . )
    Why worry? I have an indifference to a whole host of literary totems that are discussed ad infinitum on this forum, including inter alia Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Joyce, and Beckett without losing a moment's sleep over it.
    As long as you steer clear of Harry Potter, Twilight and any of their variants you will still have plenty of good writing to choose from.
    Last edited by Emil Miller; 12-11-2011 at 05:44 PM.
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

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    Philosophaster Climacus's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies everyone. But something must be wrong with me, not morally (I hope) but in the sense that my appreciative faculties are somehow deficient. And I'm more curious than worried about this.

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    If you could scientifically develop a formula to measure "appreciation factors" - well that would be strange. Until then, you are putting too much thought into this. It might be worthwhile - if you are set on this train of thought - to question why those who hold Tolstoy above all others do so. What specifically excites people about him? Then you will see why these criteria for an excellent and engaging read do not match your own.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Pssibly you may be put off by other people's enthusiasm and the amount of critical acclaim Tolstoy has. If a novel is described as being "the greatest novel of all time", that's kind of a distraction to enjoying it, because you feel as if you have to make a judgement.

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    Between Farce and Tragedy
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    Hi Climacus. There's nothing wrong with you; I feel the same way about Tolstoy.
    Quite simply, he lacks the heart of a Dostoevky or a Gogol. He is not as edgy or deep as those two either. This is probably the source of your problem I'd imagine. You can be a good writer but lack heart (like Kureishi or McEwan).

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    I disagree that Tolstoy lacks heart. The portrayals of the characters in Anna Karenina require somebody who was in tune with human emotion and desire.

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    Probably too much internet use, it has been proved that loving Tolstoi tends to happen in people who don't particularly engage in internet activities.

    In the other hand, you can aknowledge the fame and merit of a writer without feeling personally appealed by their writings. I feel like that about Shakespeare
    My blog about literature (in spanish): http://otrasbentilaciones.wordpress.com/

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    I've never enjoyed Shakespeare, and it's never bothered me much. I wouldn't worry about not liking Tolstoy.

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Climacus View Post
    Now, I've read a smattering of Tolstoy - several of the short stories and War and Peace - and from the first I found myself indifferent. It's not that I find him boring. I read, engaged, but am not really affected. It's obviously good writing. No doubts there. At times Tolstoy is philosophically profound too. Still, I just finish with a shrug. So, what's wrong with me?
    It's fine to appreciate a writer's skill whilst not really liking their work. It's a better response than simply arguing that everything you don't like is bad, as some people do.

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