Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy quotes

Quotes by and about Leo Tolstoy

(Continued from his main entry on the site.)

Tolstoy: "Our invisible work at the improvement of our soul is the most important work in the world, and all other visible kinds of work are useful only when we do this major work."

Tolstoy: "There is nothing more harmful to you than improving only your material, animal side of life. There is nothing more beneficial, both for you and for others, than activity directed to the improvement of your soul."

Tolstoy: "When two people have a dispute, both are to blame. And therefore, a dispute will stop only when at least one person understands that he or she is guilty."

Tolstoy: "I read [Gandhi's] book with great interest because I think the question [of] passive resistance ... is a question of the greatest importance ... for the whole humanity."

Tolstoy: "The dullness of [most] people's imagination enables them to forget the things that gave Buddha no peace - the inevitability of sickness, old age, and death, which today or tomorrow will destroy all ... pleasures. ... I could not imitate these people; not having their dullness of imagination I could not artificially produce it in myself."

[Remembering a childhood friend:]
Tolstoy: "Seryozha I enthusiastically admired and imitated. I loved him and wished to be like him; I admired his handsome appearance, his singing - he was always singing - his drawing, his cheerful mirth, and especially, however strange it may be to say so, the spontaneity of his egotism. I ... was always self-conscious, I always felt whether others' thoughts and feelings about me were just or not, and this spoiled my joy of life. This probably is why I especially liked in others the opposite feature, spontaneity of egotism."

A.N. Wilson: "The Russian painter who has left us the largest number of portraits of Tolstoy [said that Tolstoy had a] towering moral presence and [a] hypnotic spiritual aura."

Anton Chekhov: "If not for [Tolstoy], literature would be a flock without a shepherd."