More Tolstoy! Just can’t get enough of that Tolstoy!!
Seriously, though, I came across something extraordinary yesterday. It’s a recording of Tolstoy himself reading an English translation of a book of quotations from other writers (The Thoughts of Wise Men, published as A Calendar of Wisdom in English), that he assembled late in life:
The audio recordings above were made at the writer’s home in Yasnaya Polyana on October 31, 1909, when he was 81 years old. He died just over a year later. Tolstoy apparently translated the passage himself.
Here’s what he’s saying; you can follow along:
That the object of life is self-perfection, the perfection of all immortal souls, that this is the only object of my life, is seen to be correct by the fact alone that every other object is essentially a new object. Therefore, the question whether thou hast done what thou shoudst have done is of immense importance, for the only meaning of thy life is in doing in this short term allowed thee, that which is desired of thee by He or That which has sent thee into life. Art thou doing the right thing?
I find hearing the actual voice of a long-ago historic figure to be a powerful and moving experience. There are a lot of these old audios on YouTube, one of the many reasons I love that site and am addicted to it.