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"Who, What Am I?"Tolstoy Struggles to Narrate the Self$
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Irina Paperno

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453342

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453342.001.0001

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“I Felt a Completely New Liberation from Personality”: Tolstoy’s Late Diaries

“I Felt a Completely New Liberation from Personality”: Tolstoy’s Late Diaries

Chapter:
(p.128) Chapter Six “I Felt a Completely New Liberation from Personality”: Tolstoy’s Late Diaries
Source:
"Who, What Am I?"
Author(s):

Irina Paperno

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801453342.003.0008

This chapter looks at Leo Tolstoy's late diaries and his almanacs for daily reading, focusing on the dialectics of self and selflessness. In his History of Yesterday, the young Tolstoy—unaware of the essential limitations of human consciousness—had attempted to create a text in which the categories of time and space and the antithesis of subject and object dissolved. In his late diaries, he seems to have accepted the impossibility of such knowledge. He knew that the true self is precisely that which thought cannot grasp and language cannot formulate. It was in death that Tolstoy hoped finally to experience authentic being—a timeless, selfless existence in the present, and in silence.

Keywords:   Leo Tolstoy, self, selflessness, human consciousness, true self, authentic being

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