Having immensely enjoyed both War and peace and Anna Karenina, I decided to continue with my quest of Tolstoy's writings and read another big novel of his.

Like the aforementioned two books, I took this one (in Russian) from my grandparents. The book was printed in 1945 but is in a good shape, and features some drawings of scenes. This is great, since from time to time you can visualize the situation and see how the characters look like.

"Resurrection" tells the story of Nekhlyudov, a wealthy aristocrat (like most Russian aristocrats, his wealth is inherited), in his quest to fix the evil he did to Katyusha (a young girl whom he seduced in the past, and who became a prostitute as a result of that), and understand all the rights and wrongs of life.

The book is very political in nature, with Tolstoy explicitly criticizes the form of goverment and economics in late 19th century Russia. It is almost preaching to socialism, as Tolstoy presents all the evils coming from rich capitalists, who use "the people" for their own good, while most of the population starves and lives in poverty.

Through Nekhlyudov, Tolstoy finds faluts not only in the economics, but also in the minds of people. He again criticizes (even more acutely than in Anna Karenina) the style of life of Russian aristocrats - the fake importance they assign to their roles in society. Tolstoy puts his views in print brilliantly, sometimes through a character description, sometimes through the thoughts of Nekhlyudov.

There are also elements from War an peace in this book. Tolstoy tries, and suceeds, through showing the thoughts of various people, to explain how great things become by chance, by a plethora of small, independent circumstances, and have nothing to do with the "Grand theme" like most people would like to believe. For instance, in the trial scene, one of the judges thinks about the fight with his wife, another of his mistress, many of the jury also think of unrelated things and the advocate only cares about showing how smart he is and how fluently he speaks. This all brings to a false conviction of Katyusha, because no one really cared.

I wish I'd write a review of this book in stages, as I made progress in it. I got deeply impressed by it, and I fear I can't express it in a single short review... I should change my tactic in future reviews of great books :-)

As a matter of fact, up until 80% of the book I was sure it's one of the best books I've read, and the best of Tolstoy. But then, somehow the pace slowed down, the writing became more philosophic, and IMHO the last part of the book, where Nekhlyudov finds his "answer" in religion is the worst of all. It's natural that I feel this way, given my thoughts on religion. Basically I don't agree that believing in god will make me grasp this world as a better place, and "ignore" the evils people do to each other. Sadly, although I find this book fantastic, I have to disagree with the conclusions Tolstoy reaches.

It's funny to note that in a short review that comes in the end of the book (by some Russian author, about 40 page review of the book, written when it was published) there's an agreement with my thoughts. The review was written in Russia's communistic/socialistic era, so the writer strongly supports Tolstoy's anti-capitalistic views (citing Lenin), and attacks Tolstoy's "ressurection" to religin (communists opposed religion). While I don't agree with all the anti-capitalistic views, (I think that the capitalism was incomplete or wrongly built there, there indeed can be better capitalism), the communist reviewer was in full conformance with my view on Tolstoy's conclusion.

All in all, this book is highly recommended. Maybe some time I'll read it again and then will post a fuller review. There's so much beautiful in it, it's really hard to describe - just read it.


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