War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

AUGUST 1, 2015

I read War and Peace - and subsequently Anna Karenina - many years ago now. It is one of the greatest and most extraordinary I had - and have - ever read. He is the Beethoven of literature.

Here I’m excerpting pieces.

“And by old habit he asked himself the question: “Well, and what then? What am I going to do?” And he immediately gave himself the answer: “Well, I shall live. Ah, how splendid!” The very question that had formally tormented him, the thing he had continually sought to find - the aim of life - no longer existed for him now. […] And this very absence of an aim gave him the complete, joyous sense of freedom which constituted his happiness at this time. He could not see an aim, for he now had faith - not faith in any kind of rule, or words, or ideas, but faith in an ever-living, ever-manifest God. Formerly he had sought Him in aims he set for himself. That search for an aim had been simply a search for God, and suddenly in his captivity he had learned not by words or reasoning but by direct feeling what his nurse had told him long ago: that God is here and everywhere. In his captivity he had learned that in Karataev God was greater, more infinite and unfathomable than in the Architect of the Universe recognised by the Freemasons. He felt like a man who after straining his eyes to see in the far distance finds what he sought at his very feet. All his life he had looked over the heads of the men around him, when he should have merely looked in front of him without straining his eyes. In the past he had never been able to find that great inscrutable infinite something. He had only felt that it must exist somewhere and had looked for it. In everything near and comprehensible he’d had only what was limited, petty, commonplace, and senseless. he had equipped himself with a mental telescope and looked into remote space, where petty worldliness hiding itself in misty distance had seemed to him great and infinite merely because it was not clearly seen. And such had European life, politics, Freemasonry, philosophy, and philanthropy seemed to him. But even then, at moments of weakness as he had accounted them, his mind had penetrated to those distances and he had there seen the same pettiness, worldliness, and senselessness. Now, however, he had learned to see the great, eternal, and infinite in everything, and therefore - to see it and enjoy its contemplation - he naturally threw away the telescope through which he had till now gazed over men’s heads, and gladly regarded the ever-changing, eternally great, unfathomable, and infinite life around him. And the closer he looked the more tranquil and happy he became. That dreadful question; “What for?” which had formerly destroyed all his mental edifices, no longer existed for him. To that question, “What for?” a simple answer was now always ready in his soul: “Because there is a God, that God without whole will not one hair falls from a man’s head.”