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June 22, 2024
Literair overzicht

Reading Revival

If “War and Peace” is Tolstoy’s masterpiece, then “Resurrection” is a summary of Tolstoy’s thoughts and ideas. When I was young, I thought it was impossible to finish reading Tolstoy’s book, so thick! However, one by one, I can’t stop reading Tolstoy’s works. His words are so great and powerful that I am deeply moved. I have to think about them for more than half a year every time I finish reading them.

“Resurrection” is not a long story. It depicts Tolstoy’s views on life, class and religion through the atonement process of the noble Nekhludoff. Nekhludoff is the main line, and Maslova is the side line. Like the playing of cello and violin, they carry out their psychological activities – shame, shame, atonement, compassion, relief, and sublimation of life.

In this book, the author borrows Nekhludoff to raise a sharp question: Why does social evil continue? Why can’t evil be eliminated? Why do people hurt each other? How to eliminate this tragedy? These problems do not arise at once, but naturally.

Nekhludoff felt that he had to do something to help Maslova. First, he had played with her in the past, but now she was degraded. In the final analysis, he had done bad things; The second is to help Maslova feel good and gain pleasure and satisfaction from his sacrifice. This mentality is hypocritical and selfish. In the end, it just reduces his guilt. But with the help of the case, the contact with the big and small bureaucrats, the strange people in the prison, and the help of more innocent people, the contradictions and conflicts in his heart became more intense. He saw the suffering of people who were different from his own class, associated with the blood and justice of the past, and suddenly found that his life was so boring, empty and corrupt, the people around him were so hypocritical and noble, how empty their words were, and how utilitarian their means of love were. Nekhludoff opened his mind, the “spiritual man” was awakened, the “animal man” was reduced, and he began a new round of “soul purification”.

However, unlike the “soul purification”, which was on a whim in the past, this purification benefited from the opportunity to contact the people at the bottom. Thanks to Maslova. Maslova knew that she had to perform hard labor, not to use Nekhludoff to get rid of her guilt, but to ask Nekhludoff to help her cellmates. Nekhludoff worked and overturned the case for these people who had never known each other and had no interest in it. He gradually learned about the unfairness of society, and then thought: why some people can judge and punish others; Why are the owners of these powers unsympathetic, sometimes even black and white. From Nekhludoff’s question, the reader also further pondered various questions. There are too many questions. In general, why are people so poor, and why are people hostile and cruel to each other? There is no end to the discussion, so stop here.

Nekhludoff transited from self-pity and self-love to true compassion and understanding. He reflected on the evil and emptiness of his class, and also took action, mainly to return the land to the people, hoping to improve the situation of the poor people. Not to mention whether these actions have been understood by farmers and whether they have been successful, I think the action itself is worthy of affirmation. Action is change, which is much more powerful than empty words, even if it is a failed attempt. It is particularly noteworthy that Nekhludoff put forward the value of labor. The nobles do not work, so they breed hypocrisy, exaggeration, lust, emptiness and boredom; The nobles rely on violent rule to maintain the current social system and ensure that their blood-sucking life can continue from generation to generation, so they use religion, law, exile and other means to eliminate “troublemakers”. Most people were arrested, tried, exiled and executed not because they were really guilty, but because they hindered the interests of the ruling class. These people are isolated from the outside world and unable to work, so they further degenerate and become guilty without sin, while the ugly sin will infect more people. It can almost be said that all kinds of crimes are caused by not working. This can also be seen in Roman Roland’s “Mother and Son” and Gonzalov’s “Oblomov”. Another good example is that Britain deports prisoners to Australia, which is a criminal law more terrifying than the death penalty. But in the New World, prisoners have the value of labor. Through labor, some prisoners later become landlords and even important people in society. The impact of social environment on people is very huge!

Tolstoy criticized the aristocracy, but he did not just praise the masses and revolution. He pointed out the drawbacks of the revolution and described various revolutionaries, including opportunists, vanity and power greed. Similarly, he also criticized the Eastern Orthodox Church, believing that the Eastern Orthodox Church is a means of maintaining governance, not only sacred, but also “anti Christian”. This formal belief in religion is not as good as the “crazy man” who believes nothing but himself. What he advocates is a kind of self-improvement and self-sublimation, and changes the society by means of enlightenment and non-violence. Tolstoy did not propose specific measures, but he was not alone. Gandhi’s nonviolence and non-resistance is the best practical example, not perfect, but enlightening people. This is also a feasible way, as long as people are full of strength and hope. As for faith, he worships Protestantism, that is, people should have the freedom to read the Bible and understand it through their own thinking, rather than relying on the authority of the church. People should eliminate all false forms, understand and purify themselves, and be sincere.

Rooted in the Christian faith mentioned above, Tolstoy put forward the following two points to help reduce sin:

1. The first is to admit that everyone is guilty, including yourself. He is guilty, so he cannot punish others and correct their sins. People need to keep their true colors, that is, listen to the cry of their own conscience, respond to the cry of their own hearts, and keep their words and deeds consistent. If people can’t act in accordance with their words, they will be hypocritical and more crimes will occur. So to make the world a better place, first of all, you need to clean yourself and do practical things. Do one thing after another. Don’t expect others to appreciate or understand your contributions, and don’t expect what you do to be correct and effective. You can only do what you can. This road is only for you to walk. Loneliness needs to be endured.

2. On the other hand, people need to maintain their confidence in human beings and believe that there is a little fire in others’ hearts. Don’t just look at appearances. For example, Nekhludoff did not know the inner changes of Maslova in prison, so when she was dismissed from the hospital, Nekhludoff thought that she was seducing the doctor and fell again. But in fact, on the contrary, the doctor wanted to possess Maslova. She resisted. She was washing her face. There is no communication and mutual understanding between people, but just remember that despite all kinds of ugly things in the world, human society can survive because people are in love with each other after all. This kind of compassion and love can be found in every corner of society, even in prison. This mercy is immortal, because it is the glory of human nature. Even if 99% of human nature is bad, with 1% pity, there is hope for human existence. This is like Pandora’s box. So many crimes have come out, but there is a hope left, and mankind can continue.

The above is the main line from Nekhludoff’s perspective and psychology. The side line Maslova’s atonement and forgiveness is another psychological process. If the former is mainly a discussion of society and mankind in a broad sense, the latter is a discussion of the conflict of opposites (between sexes and between classes), and also shows what is “love”.

Maslova was driven out of the manor and reduced to a prostitute. She was involved in other people’s crimes without any reason and was wrongly judged. In the final analysis, she was occupied and abandoned by Nekhludoff. Maslova is a typical victim of the aristocracy. She was adopted and raised by the aristocracy because the ladies felt that life was empty and boring. It was better to raise a little girl for fun than really love and pity the child. Nekhludoff took possession of her, just like picking a small flower at will. From beginning to end, Maslova had no choice but to endure all kinds of unfairness and injuries imposed on her. Although she has experienced so many things, Maslova still retains a kind of innocence and kindness, does not speak sophistically, and has compassion for the people around her (compassion is unconscious, and she may not know why she wants to help others, but just thinks “this old lady is very good, really good”). In the end, she really forgave Nekhludoff. She knew that even if they were married, they would not be happy, because she felt that Nekhludoff was guilty, not love. She accepted her fate. No matter whether she was innocent or guilty, she asked Nekhludoff not to follow him anymore because he had his life. Mary of Magdalene in the Bible is said to have been a prostitute, followed Jesus later, was a faithful believer, and was later honored as one of the saints. The integration of prostitutes and saints, like virginity and pregnancy, has obvious contradictions, but from another perspective, it is not contradictory. Because everyone is guilty, prostitutes are just as guilty as others. But prostitutes with good intentions, like pure children, have the power of human nature. Compassion is not limited to human identity. Maslova is a holy woman with a “dirty identity” but a pure spirit (compared with those vain ladies). There is not much written about her in the book, but it is enough to see her pity, her patience, her compassion for others, her faith in life, her forgiveness for Nekhludoff, and her renewed faith. Love is not only love between men and women. Love is invisible, compassion and gentleness in people’s hearts, and is the power of life.

After reading “War and Peace”, then “Resurrection”, the rest of the long story is only “Anna Karenina”. I can’t help but feel reluctant to read the great author’s book so soon. By the way, I think the works of writers with humanitarian thoughts such as Tolstoy and Hugo are not suitable for young people. To put it another way, it would be different to read after having life experience.


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