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Resurrection (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 4 Nov 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (4 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192836420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192836427
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.8 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,211,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Count Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 on the family estate of Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, where he spent most of his early years, together with his several brothers. In 1844 he entered the University of Kazan to read Oriental Languages and later Law, but left before completing a degree. He spent the following years in a round of drinking, gambling and womanizing, until weary of his idle existence he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851.

He took part in the Crimean war and after the defence of Sevastopol wrote The Sevastopol Sketches (1855-6), which established his literary reputation. After leaving the army in 1856 Tolstoy spent some time mixing with the literati in St Petersburg before travelling abroad and then settling at Yasnaya Polyana, where he involved himself in the running of peasant schools and the emancipation of the serfs. His marriage to Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862 marked the beginning of a period of contentment centred around family life; they had thirteen children. Tolstoy managed his vast estates, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote both his great novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).

During the 1870s he underwent a spiritual crisis, the moral and religious ideas that had always dogged him coming to the fore. A Confession (1879-82) marked an outward change in his life and works; he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and in a series of pamphlets written after 1880 he rejected church and state, indicted the demands of flesh, and denounced private property. His teachings earned him numerous followers in Russia and abroad, and also led finally to his excommunication by the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. In 1910 at the age of eighty-two he fled from home 'leaving this worldly life in order to live out my last days in peace and solitude'; dying some days later at the station master's house at Astapovo.


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About the Author

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, better known as Leo Tolstoy, is rightly regarded as one of the greatest writers in the history of literature and his masterpieces, 'War And Peace' and 'Anna Karenina', are considered by many to be two of the most important novels ever written. He was born in 1828 in Yasnaya, Polyana, in what was then the Russian Empire, into a noble family with old and established links to the highest echelons of the Russian aristocracy. His parents died while he was young leaving relatives to raise him and after a brief and disappointing time at University, where enrolled in 1844, he spent time gambling and losing in St. Petersburg and Moscow, before joining the army in 1851. He began writing whilst in the army and upon leaving took it up as his occupation with his first books detailing his life story as well as another, 'Sevastopol Sketches', discussing his experiences in the Crimean War. By the time he had completed 'Sevastopol Sketches' he had returned from the first of two trips abroad which would change his outlook on life and consequentially his writing approach and the content of his work. A trip to Europe in 1861 and a meeting with Victor Hugo, who had just completed 'Les Miserables', which had a marked influence on 'War And Peace', would further push Tolstoy towards the mindset that would lead him to write his most famous works. On the same trip he also met Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French anarchist, with whom he discussed the importance of the need for education for all rungs of society. This revelation lead Tolstoy to open up 13 schools in Russia for the children of the working class, further highlighting his continuing separation from his noble roots. 'War And Peace', published in 1869, and 'Anna Karenina', published in 1878, were universally recognised as great works, but not long after the publication of the latter Tolstoy began to slip into an existentialist crisis. Although not suicidal in the literal sense of the term he did, however, decide that if he could find no reason or purpose for his existence he would rather die and so went about searching for a reason to live. He consulted his many friends in high places who espoused various intellectual theories but none of these sat well with him. Just as he was beginning to give up he had a dream that proved to be a moment of clarity and decided that God in a spiritual sense was the reason to keep on, though he was wary of the church and those that abused religion as a tool of oppression. He published 'A Confession' in 1882 which explained his crisis and his resolution and how it came about. Two subsequent books, 'The Death of Ivan Ilyich' and 'What Then Must We Do?', further re-enforced his views in which he criticised the Russian Orthodox Church. The culmination of his 30 years of religious and philosophical thinking was 'The Kingdom Of God Is Within you' which was published in 1894. In the book he outlined the abuses of those in power in both the church and the government and this would eventually lead to his excommunication from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1901. Tolstoy's main point derived from Jesus' teachings to 'turn the other cheek' and Tolstoy believed that this was the key to Christ's message which can be found in the Gospels and the 'Sermon On The Mount' in particular. This theory of 'non-violence' that dominated the book would make a profound impact on Mahatma Gandhi who read it as a young man whilst living in South Africa. In 1908 Tolstoy wrote 'A Letter To A Hindu' in which he told the Indian people that only through non-violent reaction and love could they overcome their British colonial masters. The letter was published in an Indian paper and Gandhi not only read it but also wrote to Tolstoy to ask permission to translate it into his own native Gujarati. 'The Kingdom Of God Is Within You' and 'A Letter To A Hindu' solidified Gandhi's non-violent idea of rebellion which he implemented and which came to fruition in 1947 when British rule came to an end and India became independent. Gandhi and Tolstoy would continue their correspondence up until Tolstoy's death in 1910. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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THOUGH hundreds of thousands had done their very best to disfigure the small piece of land on which they were crowded together: paving the ground with stones, scraping away every vestige of vegetation, cutting down the trees, turning away bird and beasts, filling the air with the smoke of naphtha and coal-still spring was spring, even in the town. Read the first page
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 July 1998
Format: Paperback
I abslutely love this book. It is riveting, encompassing, passionate, beautiful... There are so many adjectives to describe it. The novel seems to grab the reader by the heart and never lets go until the last word, and not even then. I've read it more times than I dare to count and find something new and engrossing each time. It is certainly the best novel by Tolstoy and I enjoyed it more than "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina." Although this novel is not as famous as the two I just mentioned, it is certainly more touching and quite unforgettable. I just adore it!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Pierson on 15 April 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm only half way through this but I am just so surprised by it that I thought I'd write something.

It's true that in Resurrection, the novelist's over-riding intent is to portray certain aspects of Russian society- class inequality, a corrupt and absurd legal institute, the emptiness of religious practise- in a powerfully interrogative and accusatory fashion, often at the cost of narrative and characterisation. There are no scenes (as yet) as beautiful as, say, Natasha and Nikolai Rostov remembering their childhood in War and Peace, or Levin in the fields with his serfs in Anna Karenina. Nekhlyudov, Resurrection's protagonist, spends the novel in the grip of a moral paroxysm that leads him to scrutinise the idleness and depravity of his lauded lifestly, and in this portrayal there is little of Tolstoy's usual concern for the minutae of personality that make his other characters so wonderfully compelling.

All of this said, the scrutiny, compassion, anger and precision of this novel is staggering, shocking and utterly riveting. As a masterwork of narrative literature it is, in my opinion, some way short of Toltoy's two more famous epics but it is, nevertheless, an exceptionally forceful work.

(While writing this a (perhaps) suitable companion-piece to Resurrection occured to me- The Devils, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: that too has a narrative that is occasionally sublimated by its creator's over-riding wish to portray a certain aspect of Russian life in the most serious and critical light).
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By demola on 30 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
Resurrection is the story of how a man who raped a girl attempts to redeem himself by trying to save her from gaol when she is convicted of murder many years after. To the consternation of friends, family and society he gave up (well, most of) his privileged life to atone for his crime. Through it Tolstoy decimates the russian establishment (church, state, judiciary, aristocracy) and while at it also one of our most cherished notions - a landowner's right to own land.

The writing is superb and beautiful (it's Tolstoy), preachy and petulant and yet never loses sympathy for the hearts and minds of those he is trying to influence. Tolstoy is here close to the end of his long life and as one who has witnessed vast injustice feels, perhaps righteously so, that he had earned the right to call the powers that be to account. And he does it ruthlessly.

The political, social and economic conditions that led to such exploitation and disenfranchisement of the russian poor are still with us perhaps glaringly more so in the free markets dogma where earning a buck all too often trumps human dignity. They don't write books like this any more. They would not translate well on film.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Strange on 27 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
This was the first Tolstoy book I had picked up and it remains my favourite. It is all about a prostitute who is up on a murder trial and Dmitri a nobleman who is is the jury. He realizes that he knew this prostitute from years ago when she was a servant to his household and he had fallen in love with her, had an affair with her, raped her and left her as she did not have the status to marry him. When he realizes that the woman who is on trial is the same woman who had been a servant to him years ago he realizes that he is partly guilty for her being in this situation. If he had stayed with her and loved her, he could have prevented this whole situation.
He visits her in prison and talks to her, he talks to all the other prisoners and realizes their social sufferings too and comes to the realization that the aristocratic world that he lives in is a fake world ignorant to the poverty and the conditions in which the lower class people live in. He seeks to forgive himself and hopes that the woman he once loved could find a way to forgive him. This is a very spiritual book, and I think it reflects Tolstoy's spirituality and his relationship with society as he himself was an aristocrat. Apparently it was his last major work which also says something as well. I really loved this book it is so deep and compassionate, I found myself absollutely gripped and wanted Dmitri to find spiritual peace.
It is also a huge criticism on the prision conditions at the time, so there are also parts within the book which describe the most terrible conditions in which prisoners were forced to sleep under, with rats crawling all over the place, it is all in this book and I highly recommend it to anybody who is going through spiritual changes themselves as they will identitfy with the character and how he seeks for peace through trying to help others through understanding them and then inacting upon what he had learnt.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Jan. 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a great book that shows how a man with wealth and influence in turn of the century Russia, can attempt to right the wrongs in his life. This man's internal struggle with the wrong he did a peasent girl makes the reader ponder the question of morals in his own life. The main character gave up everything that he had enjoyed in his life to try to right his mistake. So far of alll the tolstoy books that I've read this by far is best.
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