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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective on art
You definitely get more out of this book if you have a background understanding of philosophy, religion, psychology and sociology. It is hard going (not my usual bedtime read) and I've never read any of Tolstoy's books but was told that this was a good starter before progressing onto War and Peace. I found this really interesting, it changes your perspective on the way...
Published on 31 Oct 2011 by justg

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure Tolstoy had much idea...
Ok, so this is a bit of classic... but very much in the sense of something one might read purely for its historical interest. Tolstoy's own conception of art as the honest work of conveying information is woefully inadequate, but the book is worth reading just for his vitriolic (verging on manic) dislike of the music of Wagner.
Published on 14 July 2012 by Swindon Ian


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure Tolstoy had much idea..., 14 July 2012
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Ok, so this is a bit of classic... but very much in the sense of something one might read purely for its historical interest. Tolstoy's own conception of art as the honest work of conveying information is woefully inadequate, but the book is worth reading just for his vitriolic (verging on manic) dislike of the music of Wagner.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective on art, 31 Oct 2011
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You definitely get more out of this book if you have a background understanding of philosophy, religion, psychology and sociology. It is hard going (not my usual bedtime read) and I've never read any of Tolstoy's books but was told that this was a good starter before progressing onto War and Peace. I found this really interesting, it changes your perspective on the way you view art in society forever. Like many things, it is socially constructed. Contributes to me developing a more objective opinion about the world in which we live in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Religious consciousness, 16 April 2013
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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In this rather astonishing text, Leo Tolstoy explains his vision on art and the aim of art.

Art, Religion, Classes, Professionalism
For Leo Tolstoy, art is a human activity which consists in conveying feelings (emotions) by external signs. Art doesn't consist in creating beauty or pleasure or in expressing emotions, but in infecting people with feelings. The worth of these feelings is determined by the religious consciousness (Christianity) of what is good or bad. The basic good is the brotherly life of all people. The purpose of art consists in transferring from the realm of reason to the realm of feeling the truth that people's well-being lies in being united and in establishing in the place of violence the Kingdom of God (love).
The upper classes, however, have lost faith. They reduced art to the conveying of feelings of vanity, amusement and sexual lust. Art became artificial, insincere and perverted. In one word, a harlot.
Sincerity was also significantly weakened when artists became professionals.

Artistic means and ends
Leo Tolstoy's `Christian' art can be religious (conveying feelings regarding God) or universal (conveying the simplest everyday feelings of life).
Deliberate concealments to arouse curiosity, revealing new aspects or angles on reality or putting question marks in a work are hindering, not helping, the artistic impression. Hermeneutic poetry is false art, while realism and naturalism are not more than counterfeits of reality.

Evaluation
Indeed, an essence of art is the conveying of feelings (emotions) into the reader, the listener or the spectator. But, religious consciousness (Christianity) cannot be the (sole) criterion to make a decision about good or bad art. Art can convey (emotional) messages about political and social realities (war, peace), about human psychology (love, hate) or even about possible realities (anticipation).
The messages can, of course, be conveyed in an attractive way, arousing the curiosity of the consumer.
The analysis of hermeneutic poetry is perhaps not worth the effort (ultimately sometimes only hiding simple feelings), but L. Tolstoy's examples are quite understandable.
In fine, L. Tolstoy's argument about `simple feelings' becomes a caricature, when he dismisses Goethe's Faust as not more than an imitation of former works by other writers, or, when he calls Beethoven's latter works (including his 9th Symphony) artistic gibberish, because when Beethoven composed them he was deaf.

This controversial text can only be recommended to Leo Tolstoy fans and art scholars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A jewel, 4 Mar 2012
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Pedro Silva (Portugal) - See all my reviews
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This little book is a jewel. A perfect text from a great writer. Tolstoy had the rare ability of writing about complex and deep things in a simple manner. In this book, he approaches one of the most undefinable subjects in an elegant and simple way. Indeed, "le génie de l'art est dans la simplicité".
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars delighted, 19 July 2012
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wonderful, on time and in perfect condition A++. I hope I had been sufficiently exhaustive. Jokes apart, great. Well, I am not repeating words am I? Apparently I am. Let's try now.
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