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Lot #639
Leo Tolstoy

“THE METAPHYSICAL BASIS FOR ALL ... IS THE SEPARATENESS OF EACH ONE OF US”: TOLSTOY writes on God, time and space, and “Kant and the German philosophers”

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“THE METAPHYSICAL BASIS FOR ALL ... IS THE SEPARATENESS OF EACH ONE OF US”: TOLSTOY writes on God, time and space, and “Kant and the German philosophers”

Russian novelist and moral philosopher (1828–1910) best known for his classic, epic novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. He advocated a classless, self-sufficient society that prized love and charity above economics. Putting his beliefs into practice, the aristocratic Tolstoy renounced his worldly possessions to live virtually penniless among the peasants he loved. In 1910, seeking to get closer to God, he abandoned his home and family. Leaving home secretly and accompanied only by his physician and a daughter, he died of pneumonia in a remote railway station only a few days later. LS in English, two faintly lined pages, 8.5 x 11, dated in Tolstoy’s hand January 12, 1909. Tolstoy writes from his birthplace, Yasnaya Poliana, to an unnamed recipient [possibly Captain J. R. White]. In part [spellings retained]: “I feel very guilty in not having answered your letter so long. I might justify myself by refering to my physical indisposition and old age, also to my being very much occupied.... I am writing this with full sincerity especialy now that I have attentively read your excellent paper, with which I deeply agree, and the reading of which has afforded me great joy. If I may allow myself to make any remark, it is only that your comparison of spiritual life with material life and of the human tendency to unite—with the same tendency in matter is not exact and therefore is unconvincing. In general, the idea of time and space does not contain any real objective signification, owing tho this idea being inevitably connected with the conception of infinity. For me the metaphysical basis of all is the consciousness of the separateness of each one of us. and in order to be conscious of oneself both as God and as separate from him i.e. limited, the ideas are necessary of space filled with matter and of time with unceasing motion. Kant and the German philosophers express this by recognizing that time and space are but the unavoidable forms of our thought.... Judging by your paper I see in you one of those who are nearest to me in spirit, and communion with you has been and always will be of great joy to me....” In fair to good condition, with intersecting folds (one vertical fold each to first and last name; a few small holes and separations), marginal chips and tears, a few small instances of ink erosion to text, and creasing and wrinkling. The signature itself is bold, dark, and otherwise unaffected. Auction LOA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #334 - Ended June 18, 2008