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This is a concise but comprehensive guide to Tolstoy's literary and philosophical writings, focusing on aspects of his work that students find most difficult.Count Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1828-1910) is one of the most important writers in the Western tradition. His two great, giant novels, "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina", are regarded as pinnacles of the genre; they cover an enormous range of basic human experiences with a precision and probing spirit that, in the words of one critic, are simply 'unmatched by any other writer.'This guide offers students a clear introduction to Tolstoy's literary works from his major novels to the shorter novels and texts, including "Hadji Murat" and "The Death of Ivan Ilyich". The guide also covers major themes, including sex, death, authority and evil and offers an overview of Tolstoy's religious and philosophical thought. A final chapter assesses his lasting influence in the spheres of literature and culture, religion and philosophy and on major figures, including Joyce, Ghandi, Wittgenstein and Heidegger. This is a comprehensive and readable guide to one of the most remarkable writers and thinkers of the nineteenth century." Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.
In my book, Behind the Ritual Mask, I introduced the concept of cultural paradigms and identified three basic paradigms that were created by religion. In that book, I pointed out that these cultural paradigms displace reason as the methods for defining action. As a result of these paradigms and their imposition by religious institutions and government, mankind has been led down the road of altruism, collectivism and the good/evil split which desecrate of the value of the individual and his life. In my research for this book, I learned about a fourth, equally important, cultural paradigm that represented a lost religion as distinguished from those that have come down to us. This religion, although buried in pre-history, is still being practiced today as an underground cultural paradigm. It is called The Battle of the Sexes. How is it that people can practice a religion and not know it? They do it by engaging in ritual activities that have lost their connection to their sources in pre-history. We get a glimpse of the religion when we analyze patterns and themes in the available literature.
The most striking literary phenomenon of the nineteenth century is, undoubtedly, the rise into power and prominence of Russian authors. Some fifty years ago Russian literature was practically unknown to Western Europe; by the majority of people its very existence seems to have been unsuspected; we find even so great an adventurer as Carlyle, himself guiding his countrymen to many new tracts of literary discovery, speaking of "the great silent Russians who are drilling a whole continent into obedience, but who have produced 'nothing articulate' as yet." In less than thirty years from the time when Carlyle penned that sentence Russian literature had become recognised as one of the most powerful and vital in Europe; its influence, already enormous, increases every day; it is great in France, in Germany, in Scandinavia, even in conservative England; hardly since the Renaissance has Europe beheld such a phenomenon-a literary advance at once so rapid and so great.  Heroes and Hero Worship.
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