Leo Tolstoy Reading Tips

Find out some helpful hints to keep in mind when reading the literature of Russian author Leo Tolstoy.

Leo Tolstoy

In an essay titled "What is Art" Tolstoy defines art as, "One man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others the feelings he has lived through, so that others are infected by these feelings and also experience them." If one accepts this as a definition of art then Tolstoy himself must be considered a true artist.

Whether it be War and Peace that takes the reader through the streets of Moscow after Napoleon's invasion or an opportunity to cut hay with Levin in Anna Karenina the reader is always left with a sense of reality, as if one had experienced these things for themselves.

Unfortunately a good number of readers skip over Tolstoy's works. Those hesitant to read Tolstoy are usually discouraged by the length of his better known works. To help counter this and other obstacles to reading, understanding, and enjoying Tolstoy the following list of guidelines has been provided.

READING TIPS
List the Characters - For those works that are particularly long make a list of major characters. The list should include the different forms of the name, such as the christian and birth name, and the relation the characters have to one another. As you work through the book keep the list close by for quick reference. Periodically list one or two major events of each Character's life. If you forget who a character is or how s/he is related to other events your list can help bridge the gap.

Make Notations - As you progress through a novel make notes at the top of the page when major events happen. This will make reviewing previous events less time consuming. In addition one can review the major events at a glance and get a better idea of the overall story. This makes the work "smaller" and easier to understand.

Discuss - If possible discuss with others what you read. This increases comprehension and retention.

Review the Story - After reading a particularly long or challenging section replay the events and dialogs in your head. Go back to the book if something doesn't make sense. Some find it beneficial to purchase a summary of the text, such as Cliff Notes, to read a summary of what they have just read.

Translation - If you are reading the work in a language other than Russian keep in mind you are not reading the original as Tolstoy wrote it. As a result sentence structures that don't feel quite right probably lost something in the translation. When this happens reread the sentence for it's general meaning.

Read the Russian - If possible work around the previously mentioned barrier by reading the work in Russian.


"... If I were told that what I shall write will be read in twenty years by the children of today and that they will weep and smile over it and will fall in love with life, I would devote all my life and all my strengths to it.

-Leo Tolstoy

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Friday, 23-Feb-2018 00:51:54 CST