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When researching Tolstoy, I find myself noticing a common theme of failure: of not being quite good enough, of not carrying out goals, and of getting into all kinds of trouble.
No moral rules were instilled into me at all – none; yet round about me grown-ups were self-assuredly smoking, drinking and leading a dissolute life […] And I did a lot of bad things, without wishing to – simply from imitating grown-ups.
Critic Lisa Zunshine describes Pierre in War and Peace as a “conscious little rock” for having no idea why he acts the way he does and allowing his sensual desires to triumph over rationality.
Much the same could be said for Tolstoy. Yet because of this, Tolstoy and his fiction seem so real. Failure couldn’t be more human.