When Prince Dmitri Nekhludov is called for jury duty on a murder case, he little knows how the experience will change his life. Faced with the accused, a prostitute, he recognizes Katusha, the young girl he seduced and abandoned many years before, and realizes his responsibility for the life of degradation she has been forced to lead. His determination to make amends leads him into the darkest reaches of the Tsarist prison system, and to the beginning of his spiritual regeneration.
Based on a true story, Tolstoy’s final novel is a deeply moving and compassionate tale of human frailty and reformation.
Public Domain (P)2012 Naxos AudioBooks
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
“The whole trouble lies in that people think that there are conditions excluding the necessity of love in their intercourse with man, but such conditions do not exist. Things may be treated without love; one may chop wood, make bricks, forge iron without love, but one can no more deal with people without love than one can handle bees without care.”
- Tolstoy, Resurrection
While not as big or beautiful as Tolstoy's great, BIG novels (War and Peace, Anna Karenina), there is still something grand and beautiful about 'Resurrection'. The novel is basically a critique of both organized religion and the injustices of criminal law and justice. It tells the story of a noble (Nekhlyudov) who recognizes a woman (Maslova) he ruined in his youth while serving on a jury. Through careless mistakes, institutional inflexibility, and apathy, Maslova eventually is sentenced to live in Siberia.
The novel is the story of Nekhlyudov's journey of abandoning his old life (wealth, property, class) and following Maslova to Siberia. It is a story of Nekhlyudov's search for redemption from his past, his awaking to the reality of how the state and its bureaucracy crushes both the innocent and the poor, and a philosophical examination of how the fundamental's of Christianity are often overlooked by the State (and organized religion) when people lose sight of the very basic idea of loving other people.
While reading the novel I was constantly thinking of Ferguson. I was wondering how Tolstoy would approach the heavy incarceration rates of black Americans. It seems he would write a novel pretty close to the one he wrote in 1899. It is amazing to me how similar our times really are. Social injustice seems to always exist. That is why you can have Dickens, Tolstoy, Orwell, Sinclair, Baldwin, Steinbeck, etc., all writing about similar themes on different continents and in different eras and they all seem to capture the same mood with the same type of power.
Tolstoy's last great novel. Transformation of a human person from a life of self-centeredness to authentic self-giving love.
My third time reading over a period of many years led me to the conclusion: even if Resurrection is not his greatest novel, it is my favorite and it is uniquely beautiful.
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As a book editor, I ask my clients not to use their characters to speak for them but to allow the characters to speak for themselves. I don't believe this is the case in Resurrection. Tolstoy wants to address the Russian "justice" and penal systems, and although he dramatizes the unfolding action, at its core, the dialogue and narrative are more obviously coming straight from the author than I prefer. The setup is interesting: a wealthy juror finds that the accused murderer is a young woman who lived in his aunts' house and whom he loved and betrayed many years before. Believing his betrayal resulted in her ruination and ultimately brought her to this sorry fate, he takes responsibility and follows her to Siberia, where she is imprisoned. This nobleman's thoughts and dialogue were, in my opinion, not distanced enough from what Tolstoy believed, and I was always aware of the author's presence. I think the author should be invisible to the readers rather than the characters' puppeteer.
I did, however, respect Tolstoy's stance and his taking on his huge and terrible issue that was so unfair and prevalent in his country.
First, a note about the Kindle edition for immersion--there is none that I could find, but I must admit that I checked only the cheaper ones. So, I chose the free green one and tried to follow along. (My miserable experience is described in my Kindle review.). Text is especially necessary for Russian novels with 4-word character names and words with 4 consecutive consonants. I take notes only of characters' names and relations to other characters the first time I encounter them. I need to see the print for this and must say that I couldn't follow many foreign novels without this practice. Surely a serious reading keeps track of the characters, so I hope we find more immersion editions, at least of Russian and French novels in future.
My experience with the lousy Kindle edition makes me wonder how much of any historic novel is authentic in this century's renditions of it, but I have no other reason to doubt this audio edition. I do wish narrators would include footnotes, though, and repeat French phrases in English as an aside. The characters here speak French often, entire paragraphs of it. I understand most of it, but not all unless I can see it in print. We can't even consult a French dictionary without the spelling. It's a difficult language for me to get by sound alone, even though I studied it for 3 years and can read it well. (Just imagine a non-English speaker hearing "ah dunno." What to look for in the dictionary?)
As always, Tolstoy's characters are complex, and I appreciate that they engage in philosophical debates and story-telling a little less than Dostoevsky's. However, denouement consists mostly of reading from the biblical Matthew and attempts to design from it laws we would not want to live by in this century--we'd have all criminals running free! (Was Tolstoy, like Shelley, the "ineffectual angle"?) A few chapters remind us of Tolstoy's actual experiments with peasant farming cooperatives, but these chapters are not very detailed.
I respect the author's unambiguous assertion that armed service + alcohol = crime. Likewise, his treatment of rape (isn't it?) without really mentioning it, and his always surprising responses of other females toward the victims. Think of what he would make of violence today when he would factor in heroin "among the peasantry," automatic weapons, and perversion of two of the world's most prominent religions. (I exempt Hinduism.) And, I turn to Updike for the update.
Excellent story by master story teller well narrated . A gripping tale of redemption. Makes you despair and rejoice about humanity,
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