Tolstoy on Shakespeare
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Tolstoy on Shakespeare

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  28 ratings  ·  8 reviews
According to Wikipedia: "William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616)[a] was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.[1] He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon".[2][b] His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 pl...more
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Published March 1st 2010 by B&R Samizdat Express (first published June 1st 2002)
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As an eBook, it was already a frustrating experience getting to the right page each time something happened to the screen, but what made reading what amounts to a thesis-length opinion-piece even more difficult were the rambling thoughts of Tolstoy himself. One of his last literary efforts undoes so much of what is considered literature. Even though it was written in the 20th century, so much his interpretation relies on outdated 19th century ideals of autobiography and the purpose of art. Takin...more
Great read for anyone interested in Shakespeare or literary criticism in general. George Orwell's subsequent essay and reponse was more memorable though, and such a short piece as well.
Alma Castro

Best argument ever written explaining the Shakespeare phenomena.
Sidney Weber
Completely new oplnion

Although I have read the complete works of Shakespeare, I have never thought of them critically. I have been impressed by the word flows and I have enjoyed the straightforward plots. Reading Tolstoy's criticism has opened a new channel of thought about these plays. He makes very strong arguments for his views even if one does not agree with all of his basic premises. In total, this is an excellent essay.
Aasem Bakhshi
Of course, one can't always force himself to agree with subjective opinions of Tolstoy on Shakespeare but nevertheless, it was an interesting line of argument for us imbeciles who have always struggled while making sense of Shakespeare's greateness while interacting with the text at least. Experiencing Shakespeare on screen or theatre is perhaps an altogether different experience. But in my view, Tolstoy's essay on Shakespeare must be read in conjunction with Orwell's essay Lear, Tolstoy and the...more
Ebaa Momani
This argument totally makes sense to me!!! It was always hard for me to swallow the complexity of Shakespeare's characters, which ,what I suppose now, was nothing but the confusion between what the mind really sees as something ordinary and the propaganda surrounding it, bumping lies about its greatness that don't really exist.
totally makes sense to me as an argument. As for the truth of it, who knows. for all his love of truth, the count could miss it by huge stretches. but then he could hit it so hard that he in part gave us what we know as Gandhi (and in turn, mlk).
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Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой; commonly Leo Tolstoy in Anglophone countries) was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction. Many consider To...more
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“I remember the astonishment I felt when I first read Shakespeare. I expected to receive a powerful esthetic pleasure, but having read, one after the other, works regarded as his best: "King Lear," "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet" and "Macbeth," not only did I feel no delight, but I felt an irresistible repulsion and tedium . . . . Shakespeare can not be recognized either as a great genius, or even as an average author. . . . far from being the height of perfection, [King Lear] is a very bad, carelessly composed production, . . . can not evoke among us anything but aversion and weariness. . . . All his characters speak, not their own, but always one and the same Shakespearian, pretentious, and unnatural language . . . .” 0 likes
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