|Quotes from War and Peace
Page numbers are from the Abridged
version by the LIterary Guild of America, INC.
"Why am I struggling, why am I toiling and moiling in this narrow,
petty environment, when life, all of life, with all its pleasures, is open before
me? ... I must make the most of my freedom, since I feel myself so overflowing
with strength and energy ... Let the dead bury their dead; but, while we are alive, let us
live". - 267
"[He] held her hand and gazed into her eyes, and failed to find in
his heart his former love for her. A sudden transformation seemed to have taken
place in his soul: There was none of that former poetical and mysterious charm of
longing; but there was a feeling akin to pity for her weakness, as a woman, as a child;
there was a shade of fear, in presence of her utter self-renunciation and her fearless ho
nesty; a solemn and, at the same time, blissful consciousness of hte obligation which
forever bound him to her. The present feeling, though it was not so bright and
poetical as the former, was more deep and powerful." P.279
"Love? What is Love?" he asked himself.
"Love stands in the way of death. Love is life. ALl, all that I understand, I
understand solely because I love. All is, all exists, simply and solely because I
love. All is summed up in this alone. Love is God; and death for me, a tiny
particle of love, means returning into the universal and eternal source of love."
"[He] was made aware, not by logic
but by his whole being, by life itself, that man is created for happiness, that happiness
lies in himself, in the satisfaction of the simple needs of living, and that all
unhappiness arises not from lack but from superfluity. ... he learned still another new
and consoling truth-- that there is nothing fearsome in the world. He learned that just as
there is no condition in which a man can be happy and absolutuley free, so also there is
no condition in which a man can be completely unhappy and unfree." -- p.622
"He sang his songs, not as singers usually sing,
knowing that they will be heard; but he sang as the birds sing, evidently because it was
just as much a necessity for him as it was for him to stretch himself or to walk.
And these sounds were always gentle, soft, almost like a woman's, plaintive, and his face
while he was singing was very grave." p.574
"Special attachments, friendships, loves, as
Pierre understood them, Pierre had none; but he liked all men, and lived in a loving way
with all with whom his life brought him into contact, and especially with men -- not any
particular men -- but with such as were in his sight. He loved his dog; he loved his
comrades and the French; he loved Pierre, who was his companion, but Pierre felt that
[He], in spite of all the affectionate spirit he manifested toward him-- and which he
could not help giving as a tribute to Pierre's spiritual life -- would not for one moment
grieve over separation. And Pierre began to have the same feeling toward
[Him]." p.574 -- I quote this (it happens right after the one above)
because it shows not only how good Tolstoy is at describing new characters, but also this
seems a philosophical point Tolstoy decided to take up: that of the perfect peasant.
I think it still describes today a realistic type of person. Not to be
envied, but to be admired for their own simplicity and self-peace
"What is going to happen, and what does it mean?
Why do I have such regret in leaving life? There was in this life something I
have not understood, and which I still fail to understand." p.477 -- The words
of a humble man. Not too smart, as they came too late, but revalation is given only
as the chance to use it is taken away.
"Fatalism in history is unavoidable, if we would
explain its preposterous phenomena (that is to say, those events for which the reason is
beyond our comprehension). The more we strive by our reason to explain these
phenomena in history, the more illogical and incomprehensible they become to us.
Every man has a twofold life: One one side is his personal life, which
is afree in proportion as its interests are abstract; the other is life as an element, as
one bee in the swarm; and here a man has no chance of disregarding the laws imposed upon
him. The higher a man stands on the social ladder, the more men he is connected
with, the greater the influence he exerts over others-the more evident is the predestined
and unavoidable necessity of his every action.
The King is the slave of history. In the events of history,
so-called great men are merely tags that supply a name to the event, and have quite as
little connection with the event itself as the tag.
Every one of their actions, though apparently preformed by their own
free will, is, in its historical significance, out of the scope of volition, and is
correlated with the whole trend of history; and is, consequently, preordained from all