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We all know Leo Tolstoy as a Russian writer and philosopher, a master of realistic fiction and one of the world’s greatest novelists. But few of us know that he was among the first supporters of the idea that works of art shouldn’t be privately owned but should belong to the whole of humanity. His rejection of the church and state made him one peculiar Christian anarchist who hated private property, strongly condemned vanity and was the first to refuse the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Here we collected some of his incredibly simple yet very wise quotes about life, love, belief and happiness for you to ponder.
- In our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, but nobody thinks of changing himself.
- Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait.
- All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
- Great things are always simple and modest.
- The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
- We always think that they love us because we are good, but we never suspect that good are those who love us.
- Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
- When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.
- We lost because we told ourselves we lost.
- The greatest truths are simple.
- Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.
- One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.
- The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.
- Error can never be corrected by error, and evil cannot be vanquished by evil.
- Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.
- If you want to be happy, be.
- There is only one time that is important — Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power.
- Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.
- One can live magnificently in this world if one knows how to work and how to love.
- Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.
P.S. When giving his lectures on Russian and comparative literature at Cornell University and Wellesley College, Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov started every class by closing all the drapes. In absolute darkness he started, ’If you imagine Russian literature to be a sky, then this is Gogol’ and the lecturer switched on one of the lamps on the ceiling of the auditorium. Then he clicked the switch again: ’Here is Chekhov and Dostoevsky’. Two lamps were switched on. Then Nabokov used to come up to the drapes and open them all in one quick motion. When the classroom was blinded by the sunshine, the teacher said: ’And this is Leo Tolstoy.’
Illustration preview credit: Yona