What Is Art?

Narrated by: Geoffrey Blaisdell
Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Philosophy
4 out of 5 stars (39 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Tolstoy claims that all good art is related to the authentic life of the broader community and that the aesthetic value of a work of art is not independent of its moral content. The book is noteworthy not only for its famous iconoclasm and compelling attacks on the aestheticist notion of "art for art's sake" but even more for its wit, its lucid and beautiful prose, and its sincere expression of the deepest social conscience.

Tolstoy is an author critics typically rank alongside Shakespeare and Homer. A sustained consideration of the cultural import of art by someone who himself was an artist of the highest stature will always remain relevant and fascinating to anyone interested in the place of art and literature in society.

Public Domain (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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    1 out of 5 stars

unbearably snotty narration

I gather that Tolstoy's views on the subject were at the least a little sardonic, but I can't get past the absolutely laughable, condescending tone the narrator feels obliged to apply to this reading. Is he trying to narrate it as he feels Tolstoy himself would have sounded? (In which case, I don't agree: I think that Tolstoy himself must have sounded a bit human, even sympathetic, once in a while!) -- Or, worse, is this simply how the narrator believes "serious, world-historical" works such as this SHOULD be read? Is it how he reads all works? I should have listened longer to the sample clip before buying... Worst purchase I've made here; I can hardly get through it.
Another major gripe regards the passages in different languages. It seems that in order to be kind to the reader translations should be supplied alongside the original text when passages in a foreign language are as long as some of these; I don't understand Russian or German in the slightest. I do, however, speak and understand French, and one last absurdity is the atrocity with which the narrator mangles the pronunciation- and always in that awful, sneering, "highbrow-literary" tone!

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  • harry
  • 05-01-16

interesting look into a past future

things did not turn out quite the way Tolstoy had hoped but the difference between his vision and reality are pretty fascinating