Childhood, Father Sergius & What To Do? Thoughts Evoked By T
It is the first in a series of three novels and is followed by Boyhood and Youth. Published when Tolstoy was just twenty-three years old, the book was an immediate success, earning notice from other Russian novelists including Ivan Turgenev, who heralded the young Tolstoy as a major up-and-coming figure in Russian literature. Childhood is an exploration of the inner life of a young boy, Nikolenka, and one of the books in Russian writing to explore an expressionistic style, mixing fact, fiction and emotions to render the moods and reactions of the narrator. The story begins with the childhood and exceptional and accomplished youth of Prince Stepan Kasatsky. The young man is destined for great things. He discovers on the eve of his wedding that his fiancée Countess Mary Korotkova has had an affair with his beloved Tsar Nicholas I. The blow to his pride is massive, and he retreats to the arms of Russian Orthodoxy and becomes a monk. Many years of humility and doubt follow. He is ordered to become a hermit. Despite his being removed from the world, he is still remembered for having so remarkably transformed his life. One winter night, a group of merry-makers decide to visit him, and one of them, a divorced woman named Makovkina, spends the night in his cell, with the intention to seduce him. Father Sergius discovers he is still weak and in order to protect himself, cuts off his own finger. Makovkina is stunned by this act, and leaves the next morning, having vowed to change her life. A year later she has joined a convent. Father Sergius' reputation for holiness grows. He becomes known as a healer, and pilgrims come from far and wide. Yet Father Sergius is profoundly aware of his inability to attain a true faith. He is still tortured by boredom, pride, and lust. He fails a new test, when the young daughter of a merchant successfully beds him. The morning after, he leaves the monastery and seeks out Pashenka (Praskovya Mikhaylovna), whom he, with a group of other boys, had tormented many years ago. He finds her, now in all the conventional senses a failure in life, yet imbued with a sense of service towards her family. His path is now clearer. He begins to wander, until eight months later he is arrested in the company of a blind beggar who makes him feel closer to God. He is sent to Siberia, where he now works as the hired man of a well-to-do peasant, teaching the gentleman's young children and working in the gardens. What to Do is a non-fiction work by Leo Tolstoy in which he describes the social conditions of Russia in his day.
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