Literary Quotations
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by: Leo Tolstoy

Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the society of clever women.

--Book I, chapter 4

I look on marriage as a divine institution to which we must conform.

--Book I, chapter 25

Let us be persuaded that the less we let our feeble human minds roam, the better we shall please God, who rejects all knowledge that does not come from Him; and the less we seek to fathom what He has been pleased to conceal from us, the sooner will he vouchsafe its revelation to us through His divine Spirit.

--Book I, chapter 25

It seems as though mankind has forgotten the laws of its divine Saviour, Who preached love and forgiveness of injuries--and that men attribute the greatest merit to skill in killing one another.

--Book I, chapter 25

To understand all is to forgive all.

--Book I, chapter 28

"One step beyond that boundary line which resembles the line dividing the living from the dead lies uncertainty, suffering, and death. And what is there? Who is there?--there beyond that field, that tree, that roof lit up by the sun? No one knows, but one wants to know. You fear and yet long to cross that line, and know that sooner or later it must be crossed and you will have to find out what is there, just as you will inevitably have to learn what lies the other side of death. But you are strong, healthy, cheerful, and excited, and are surrounded by other such excitedly animated and healthy men." So thinks, or at any rate feels, anyone who comes in sight of the enemy, and that feeling gives a particular glamour and glad keenness of impression to everything that takes place at such moments.

--Book II, chapter 8

Just as in the clock the result of the complex action of innumerable wheels and pulleys is merely the slow and regular movement of the hand marking the time, so the result of all the complex human activities of these 160,000 Russian and French - of all their passions, hopes, regrets, humiliations, sufferings, outbursts of pride, fear and enthusiasm - was only the loss of the battle of Austerlitz, the battle of the three Emperors, as it was called; that is to say, a slow movement of the hand on the dial of human history.

--Book III, chapter 11

Three days later the little princess was buried, and Prince Andrew went up the steps to where the coffin stood, to give her the farewell kiss. And there in the coffin was the same face, though with closed eyes. "Ah, what have you done to me?" it still seemed to say, and Prince Andrew felt that something gave way in his soul and that he was guilty of a sin he could neither remedy nor forget.

--Book IV, chapter 9

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.

--Book IV, chapter 11

To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one's sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.

--Book IV, chapter 15

He had the unlucky capacity many men, especially Russians, have of seeing and believing in the possibility of goodness and truth, but of seeing the evil and falsehood of life too clearly to be able to take any serious part in life. Every sphere of activity was, in his eyes, linked with evil and deception

--Book VIII, chapter 1

She could not follow the opera, could not even listen to the music: she saw only painted cardboard and oddly dressed men and women who moved, spoke and sang strangely in a patch of blazing light. She knew what it was all meant to represent, but it was so grotesquely artificial and unnatural that she felt alternately ashamed and amused at the actors.

--Book VIII, chapter 9

In historical events great men — so-called — are but labels serving to give a name to the event, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity.

--Book IX, chapter 1

A king is history's slave.

--Book IX, chapter 1

A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German's self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth--science--which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.

--Book IX, chapter 10

Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait.

--Book X, chapter 16

The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.

--Book X, chapter 16

At the approach of danger there are always two voices that speak with equal force in the heart of man: one very reasonably tells the man to consider the nature of the danger and the means of avoiding it; the other even more reasonable says that it is too painful and harassing to think of the danger, since it is not a man's power to provide for everything and escape from the general march of events; and that it is therefore better to turn aside from the painful subject till it has come, and to think of what is pleasant. In solitude a man generally yields to the first voice; in society to the second.

--Book X, chapter 17

War is like a game of chess ... but with this little difference, that in chess you may think over each move as long as you please and are not limited for time, and with this difference too, that a knight is always stronger than a pawn, and two pawns are always stronger than one, while in war a battalion is sometimes stronger than a division and sometimes weaker than a company. The relative strength of bodies of troops can never be known to anyone.... Success never depends, and never will depend, on position, or equipment, or even on numbers, and least of all on position.

--Book X, chapter 25

War is not a polite recreation but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war. We ought to accept it sternly and solemnly as a fearful necessity.

--Book X, chapter 25

Absolute continuity of motion is not comprehensible to the human mind. Laws of motion of any kind become comprehensible to man only when he examines arbitrarily selected elements of that motion; but at the same time, a large proportion of human error comes from the arbitrary division of continuous motion into discontinuous elements.

--Book XI, chapter 1

"But every time there have been conquests there have been conquerors; every time there has been a revolution in any state there have been great men," says history. And, indeed, human reason replies: every time conquerors appear there have been wars, but this does not prove that the conquerors caused the wars and that it is possible to find the laws of a war in the personal activity of a single man. Whenever I look at my watch and its hands point to ten, I hear the bells of the neighboring church; but because the bells begin to ring when the hands of the clock reach ten, I have no right to assume that the movement of the bells is caused by the position of the hands of the watch.

--Book XI, chapter 1

He did not, and could not, understand the meaning of words apart from their context. Every word and action of his was the manifestation of an activity unknown to him, which was his life.

--Book XII, chapter 13

Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.

--Book XIII, Chapter 16

Man is created for happiness ... happiness is within him, in the satisfaction of simple human needs, and ... all unhappiness arises not from privation but from superfluity.

--Book XIV, chapter 12

There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.

--Book XIV, chapter 18

Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.

--Book XV, chapter 1

History is the life of nations and of humanity. To seize and put into words, to describe directly the life of humanity or even of a single nation, appears impossible.

--Epilogue II

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