Category Archives: Tolstoy (Leo)

Tolstoy Calls Us to Aid Syrian Refugees

During the evacuation of Moscow in “War and Peace,” the Rostov family gives up their worldly goods to help soldiers in distress. This is much more than many in the U.S. are willing to do for Syrian refugees.

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Tolstoy and Climate Change Denial

The denial of the citizens of Moscow as Napoleon approaches the city, described by Tolstoy in “War in Peace,” resembles climate change denialism.

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Please Go Gentle into That Good Night

Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle” can be read as a narcissistic desire by young people that their elders will go out on young people’s terms.

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A Tolstoy Fable about Radical Empathy

Tolstoy’s story “Esarhaddon” captures a common wish fulfillment of the powerless–that the oppressor see the world through the eyes of the oppressed.

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The World’s a Stage–Choose Your Part

In his senior project, one of my students uses literature to examine life and literature to engage with it.

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Lit’s 10 Most Painful Marriage Proposals

Literature 10 most painful marriage proposals.

Also posted in Alcott (Louisa May), Austen (Jane), Bronte (Charlotte), Chaucer (Geoffrey), Defoe (Daniel), Gay (John), Hardy (Thomas), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Anna Karenina Would Say to the GOP

Perfect advice from Tolstoy for the GOP.

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Speak Now for Peace

Obama, take note: Vachel Lindsay in 1915 counseled against going to war even after the sinking of the Lusitania.

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Magnificent Women in the Sick Room

Tolstoy shows us deathbed vigils can spur us to a deeper engagement with life.

Also posted in Donne (John), Eliot (George), Thomas (R. S.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tolstoyan Therapy for Mental Illness

Guest poster Lucy Fuggle explains how Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” helped her cope with her PTSD.

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Petraeus: Karenina, Oedipus, or Antony?

The David Petraeus affair–is it 19th century melodrama or high tragedy?

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Tolstoy, the Novelist vs. the Activist

One thing I appreciate about the New York Times is that many of its columnists routinely mention literature. Maureen Dowd probably does so the most (note this passing reference to T. S. Eliot’s Wasteland), and I once wrote a column on Roger Cohen’s use of The Great Gatsby in a piece on President Obama. (Cohen wrote […]

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Tolstoy and Celebrity Culture

Film Friday Before there was celebrity culture there was celebrity culture. That’s what we learn from The Last Station, the fascinating recent film about the last days of Leo Tolstoy. The year is 1910.  Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) is seen as a national treasure and there is a struggle underway over who owns his work.  His […]

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The Favorite Books of American Presidents

I’ve had fun discussing the reading of Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas over the last couple of days, and while I’ve come up dry on further posts about the Supreme Court and literature, it has given me the idea of periodically dipping into reading stories of other political figures. I’ll start a list here, beginning […]

Also posted in Alexander (Elizabeth), Angelou (Maya), Bible, Camus (Albert), Carle (Eric), Dickey (James), Fleming (Ian), Frost (Robert), Marquez (Gabriel Garcia), Morrison (Toni), O'Neill (Joseph), Robinson (Edward Arlington), Service (Robert), Sheridan (Richard), Stendahl, Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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