Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Kierkegaard and Tolstoy

I'm part way through my first real encounter with Tolstoy, through his book The Kingdom of God is Within You. Perhaps some important quotes will venture their way onto the blog in the coming days and weeks.

However, and I might be the last person in the world to pick up on this, the resemblance between Kierkegaard and Tolstoy are striking, even just in this book alone. Kierkegaard's three spheres of life are tremendously similar to Tolstoy's three philosophies of life. Similar, but not identical.

With a little hand-waving, one could make them superimpose on each other, but the more interesting approach is to find how they inform and critique each other. And more interesting still is that they both advocate a relentless pursuit of the teachings of Christ. Christ is, for both of them, the teacher par excellance, who instructed people how to live as though God was king of this world, and that if we are to take Christianity seriously, then it must be immediately (and militantly, if we invoke Badiou) obeyed by the individual, and not enveloped in the mists and shrouds of sacramental observances.

The rest of the book, and maybe some other Tolstoy work, await me.
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