Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Dickens vs Tolstoy: A Tale of Two Literary Giants

Charles Dickens was a poor city boy while LeoTolstoy was a country gentleman. Dickens wrote weekly and monthly soap operas of his day thatentrained thousands of people while Tolstoy wrote epic long movies that questioned historyand social institutions like family. Dickens believed in opportunities in life therefore wasoptimistic while Tolstoy believed in mystical forces within the soil and history, therefore wasfatalistic and pessimistic. Dickens’s characters are mainly boys looking up to the futureand dreaming of fortune, while Tolstoy’s characters are men looking inside for meaningand purpose in life. Dickens’s tales are overly sentimental while Tolstoy’s tales are overlymoralistic. Okay, Let’s compare the two giants. Background.

Egalitarianism became a dominant philosophicalenterprise in the 19th century, especially after the 1840s. The most famous example is, of course,Karl Marx who argued for total equality. In the 18th century, the Enlightenment philosopherslike Rousseau, Voltaire, and others believed that humans were equal, at least on paper. But then theindustrial revolution in Europe showed the stark inequality among people. To compound that, warfareshowed the sacrifices of ordinary soldiers was not recognised, yet the glory went to the leaders,generals and kings. There was outrage and anger among the 19th century thinkers. But novelistscaptured this inequality in their writing, too. Two of the most famous writers who lived in thisperiod are Charles Dickens and Leo Tolstoy. Charles Dickens is perhaps thegreatest English novelist of all time..

No English writer has captured the imaginationof the English readers as much as Dickens. His novels such as Great Expectations, ATale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol are read by nearly every English man orwoman. If Shakespeare pioneered English literature, Dickens perfected the artof storytelling through dramatisation. Similarly, Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky aretwo towering figures of Russian literature. While Dostoevsky’s style is more psychological, Tolstoyis more sociological, as a result more comparable to Dickens. Of course, Tolstoy came a few yearslater, so he had the advantage of reading Dickens. In fact Tolstoy used Dickens as an inspiration towrite. He had a photo of Dickens in his study as a guide, a guru who motivated him to keepon writing. Tolstoy’s first three novels,.

Childhood, Boyhood and Youth are modelled onDickens’s David Copperfield. But then Tolstoy traveled to France and got to know Victor Hugo andperhaps Gustave Flaubert, the father of realism, so he adopted realism as his style. Dickens’sstyle combines fairytale of fortune with the harsh reality of concrete colliding with steelduring the industrial revolution in England. There has been a lot of comparisonin recent years. For example, Intelligence Squared had a big discussion withsome famous actors comparing the two giants. Also the YouTubers *emmie* and CarolynMarieReadshave created hours of content comparing the two writers. I think the main reason they arecompared is their focus on social justice. Dickens wrote about the English poor of theindustrial revolution, while Tolstoy wrote.

About the underprivileged soldiers and peasants inRussia. Dickens wrote about economic inequality, while Tolstoy wrote about historical injusticeof only a few getting recognition while the sacrifices of others are forgotten. Dickens wroteabout the ugly side of the Industrial Revolution, while Tolstoy wrote about the uglyside of history and warfare. At the heart of their writing is an egalitarianphilosophy of a more just society for all. So in this video, I will comparethe two by looking at their lives, novels, writing styles, themes, charactersetc. At the end I will try to answer whether today we are more Dickensiancharacters or Tolstoyan characters? The point of this comparison is not to prove whois better, but to shed light on both writers..

I think we humans are hardwired to compare thingsfor the sake of knowledge. So my attempt is for you to learn something about both authors.But first let me tell you about their lives. Life: English peasant vs Russian countDickens was born in 1812 in Portsmouth, some 120km south of London. Due to hisfather’s job, he lived in various places, in and around London. In 1824 when Dickenswas 12, his father was sent to prison for unpaid debt. This must have been a huge setbackfor the family as he was the breadwinner. This mirrors Cervantes’s life as his father was alsoin prison when he was a child, for the same crime, unpaid debt. This problem with the legal systemand poverty would dominate Dickens’s novels. Tolstoy was born in 1828, some 16 yearsafter Dickens, in Yasnaya Polyana,.

Some 200km south of Moscow. Unlike Dicken’smodest background, Tolstoy was born a count whose aristocratic family owned a huge estate andmany serfs. While Dickens struggled with poverty, Tolstoy struggled with life. When hewas 2 years old, he lost his mother and when he was 9 he lost his father.As a result, Tolstoy grappled with this existentialist question, what is the purposeof life, which dominated most of his novels. Dickens, a young boy, was forced to work10 hours a day to earn a living. Aged 15, he started to work at a law office so hecould continue his studies. Dickens was very bright and a quick learner. He also learnthow to write shorthand which helped him become a reporter. He quickly rose up the ranks inthe media world. Alongside being a journalist.

For various newspapers and magazines,he also started writing short stories. His intelligence and hard work allowed himto move up the socio-economic ladder quite rapidly. This is the industrial revolutionin England and the British Empire at its height of power in the world, so anythingis possible if you put your mind to it. Unlike Dickens, Tolstoy was a sloppy student. Hequit his university’s oriental languages degree. When life is hard, it toughens you up and whenlife is easy, you create other dramas in your life. Tolstoy as a wealthy young man did whatmost men of his station would; he pursued women, alcohol and gambling. But after a while, herealised he needed a bigger purpose in life. He joined the Russian army in theCrimean war of the 1850s to toughen up..

This experience was huge for him as he laterused it in his masterpiece, War and Peace. But experiencing the horrors of war, alsoshifted his perspective towards pacifism. Now an established journalist and writer, in 1836Dickens, aged 24, married Catherine and together they had 10 children. So he wasn’t just aprolific writer, he was also busy in the bedroom. Things were looking up for him, so in1842, he travelled to the US and Canada, where he was like a rockstar, like theBeatles, so people attended his lectures and talks. After his return to England,he decided to travel to Europe for some quiet and peace. This reflection allowed himto write more serious novels. In 1846, he also met a few French writers like Alexander Dumas andVictor Hugo. I think Balzac was too busy writing,.

Because he was a machine. Flaubert was too youngor too busy making endless drafts of his novels. Dickens loved the French language andculture, but mainly wine and cheese. In 1862, Tolstoy aged 34 married Sophia whowas 18 at the time. If Dickens had 10 kids, Tolstoy did a few better, as he had 13children. If Dickens traveled to America, Tolstoy made many trips to Europe, mainly France,where he met the same Victor Hugo in 1861, some 15 years after Dickens. Mr Hugo must havebeen busy with all these English and Russian young writers visiting him. Tolstoy’s meetingwith Hugo made a massive impression on him when he read Le Miserables. NowTolstoy had a purpose: to write a novel nobody else had written. He returnedto Russia and started writing War and Peace.

In 1857, when he was 45, Dickens hit a midlifecrisis. Well, not exactly but he fell in love with an 18 year old woman. He divorced the motherof his 10 kids and went with the younger woman. They remained together until his death in1870. Dickens had a stroke and died aged 58. Unlike Dickens seeking a younger woman,Tolstoy’s crisis was mainly for life’s purpose. In 1880, when he was in his 50s, he disownedhis novels and confessed his religious belief. Throughout his life, he struggled for meaning, constantly moving between Schopenhauer’s negationof the self and a Christian belief. In 1910, Tolstoy ran away from his house and diedat a train station. He was 82 years old. Dickens supported many charities, for thedisadvantaged people and advocated against.

Slavery, terrible labour conditions,and poverty among the working class. Tolstoy valued education so he foundedmany schools for the Russian peasants and advocated for pacifism, universalism and mostimportantly an agrarian life in the country, because for Tolstoy true happinesswas when you produced your own food. Dickens was 5' 8″ or 173cm tall andpreferred a more comfortable city life, while Tolstoy was 5’ 11” (181cm) andenjoyed the country. Dicken was an Industrial Revolution success story of a poorboy becoming one of the greatest novelists, while Tolstoy was a Russian success story of arich man becoming one of the greatest writers. Novels: TV Show vs MovieDickens and Tolstoy had a.

Somewhat similar output. Dickens wrote morenovels with shorter length while Tolstoy wrote fewer but longer novels. Dickens was a serialwriter like a daytime TV soap opera. Tolstoy, however, wrote more like a long project or anepic movie. Of course Dickens wrote for money so he had to write regularly. Tolstoy however waswealthy enough to write whenever he felt like. Dickens’s first novel was Pickwick Paperspublished between 1836-7. It’s about Mr Pickwick, a kind gentleman who travels through England tolearn about the country but a misunderstanding with a woman sends him to prison for anunpaid debt, just like Dickens’s father. Dickens’s second novel, Oliver Twist publishedbetween 1837 and 39 is about an orphaned boy, Oliver who is sold into apprenticeshipbut he escapes the harsh working condition.

To join the London’s underworld criminals.Dickens drew on his own experience as a working boy to expose the plight ofpoor children in Victorian London, and as a result it is considereda social protest novel. Dickens’s third novel, Nicholas Nickleby,published in 1838 and 39, is also about a poor boy who has to work to support his mother, whichresembles Dickens’s own life as a working boy. Tolstoy’s first novel, Childhood, published in1952, which he followed with his second novel, Boyhood two years later in 1854,and a third one called Youth in 1857 as part of a trilogy telling his own lifegrowing up an aristocrat while the peasants lived in poverty. It’s also about his ownlife, growing up, losing his parents and.

Living a privileged life while the peasantshad very little which made him guilty for the rest of his life. So Tolstoy and Dickens camefrom two ends of the socio-economic spectrum. In 1841, Dicken published two novels, The OldCuriosity Shop which is about an unfortunate teenage girl trying to help her grandfather avoidpoverty and Barnaby Rudge, a historical novel about a forbidden love between a catholic and aprotestant. In 1840s, Dickens published 5 novellas and the most famous being A Christmas Carol, abouta miserly old man who’s haunted by three ghosts, past, present and future, which is very cleverabout time being the biggest terror in one’s life. It’s also Dickens’s most popular work aroundthe world and a Christmas phenomenon which according to some cemented the myth and legendof Christmas. Dickens, obsessed over money,.

Saw it as a blessing but also a curse. Idon’t blame him. He had ten children to feed. After his return from France in the 1860s,Tolstoy locked himself in his country house to write a beast of a novel to show the Frenchthat Russians were as good as the rest of Europe. Published in 1869, War and Peace tells thestory of the Napoleonic Wars of 1805 and 1812, but it is more than a novel. In it, Tolstoychallenges historians but he also tells the story of hundreds of characters from the topto the bottom, from Napoleon to some ordinary soldiers. I have a very detailed summaryof the novel here, if you like to watch. In 1850, Dickens published his mostautobiographical novel, David Copperfield. It’s about a boy growing up in Victorian England in theage of Industrial Revolution and the social upward.

Mobility. In 1852, Dickens wrote Bleak House.If War and Peace is Tolstoy’s greatest novel, Bleak House is Dickens’s greatest novel. Tolstoywrote about heroic battles and the nightmare of wars, Dickens’s novel is about a legalbattle and the nightmare of the legal system. Like in all Dickens’s novels, money is at theheart of the novel, in a long legal battle over inheritance money. Jarndyce vs Jarndyce is alegendary legal battle that lasted decades. In 1877, Tolstoy published his second mostfamous novel, Anna Karenina, which was also Tolstoy’s own favourite. It’s abouta married woman, Anna who falls in love with an army officer and leaves herhusband with disastrous consequences for everyone. I have reviewed it in aseparate video if you like to watch..

In the 1850s, Dickens wrote Hard Times, LittleDorrit, and his best-known historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities, which is about Parisand London during the French Revolution of 1789. In 1860, he wrote Great Expectations abouta young boy whose life takes a dramatic turn when he meets a convict. The story is somewhatsimilar to Dostoevsky’s novels in a sense that even the most flawed human beings have someredeeming qualities. I included this in my top 10 English novels of all time. Dickens’slast completed novel is Our Mutual Friend, about social mobility in England. Just like allDickens’s novels it is of course about money. In 1886, Tolstoy wrote the Death of Ivan Ilyich,a meditation on the meaning of life and death. In 1899, Tolstoy published his other big novel,Resurrection, about past guilt and the injustice.

Of social class and the corruption of thelegal system in Russia. Tolstoy’s last novel, Hadji Murat published two years after his death,is about a Muslim warrior in the Caucasus. Dickens wrote 15 novels and 5 novellas, a career that lasted 33 yearsbetween 1837 and 1870. Tolstoy, on the other hand, wrote 3 enormous novels and11 novellas, a career that lasted 42 years. Style: Industrial Fairytale vs Russian RealismDickens’s style of storytelling is perhaps best described as a fairytale of the industrial age,in which young people, mainly boys, try to seek their fortune in the city, mainly London and alsoabroad in the colonies. He lived during a time when upward mobility was changing the face of thehighly class-based English society. People with.

Good education and intelligence were able to worktheir way up the socio-economic hierarchy. Dickens himself is a perfect example. A man of modestbackground became one of the best-selling authors of his day. Dickens entertained thousandsof people on a weekly or monthly basis. As I said earlier Tolstoy has an advantageover Dickens because he came a few years later, by then realism was becoming the dominant literaryform. But to compound that, Russia has a harsh climate so people are slightly tougher than theEnglish. While Dickens wrote amazing stories, with a fairytale tinge, Tolstoy went to the heartof the matter to tell harsh realities of life that cut really deep. If Dicken is a storyteller,Tolstoy is a philosopher and sociologist who instead of challenging the class system inEngland, challenged history and historians..

Dickens is part of a very rich literarytradition going all the way back to Shakespeare, one of the greatest dramatists in human history.That’s why Dickens dramatic storytelling comes quite naturally. Tolstoy, however, operates in acountry that has no such an accomplished literary history back then, so he takes up the challenge ofputting Russia on the map of European literature. He looked up to the French, spoke the languageso he combined French literary realism with his Russian or eastern mysticism to create somethingunique. While Europe is scientific-minded, Russia has this mystical force, which he talks about inWar and Peace as a catalyst for the Russians to defeat Napoleon’s army, the most sophisticatedfighting machine back then. So Tolstoy took up the job of becoming the Shakespeareof Russia, or something close to that..

Dickens was an amazing comic genius of his day.His novels are littered with hilarious scenes, comedy of manners, misunderstanding, ironic twistsand absurdist situations. In Pickwick Papers, the ending is incredibly ironic. The man paysthe legal cost which frees him and his rival. In Bleak House, the long-running legalcase is absurd like a kafkaesque nightmare. Incidentally Kafka was immensely influencedby Dickens, especially in his novel, Amerika. Tolstoy, like all Russians, doesn't laugh orsmile. His style is for the most part direct, gloomy and dark as his charactersscramble for a place in society but most importantly seekingfor some meaning in life. Tolstoy’s stories are sweeping tales ofcountries, cities and generations of people..

Tolstoy’s tales are more philosophicaland seek virtue, meaning and purpose. Dickens’s style is also more optimistic aboutthe future as his character's goals are to better their lives. While Tolstoy’s style is realisticwhich means more pessimistic as a result, because let’s face it, real life sucks for the most part,especially if you live in 19th century Russia. Dickens is looking at a castlefrom his modest shack and dreaming, while Tolstoy is in his castle lookingdown at a shack and feeling guilty. Dickens wrote entertaining tales whileTolstoy wrote philosophical epics. Dickens’s famous line comes from A Tale ofTwo Cities. Quote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the ageof wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,.

It was the epoch of belief, it was the epochof incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the springof hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothingbefore us…”—(A Tale of Two Cities.) Tolstoy’s most famous quote comes from AnnaKarenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”—(AnnaKarenina). Here is a quote from War and Peace: “If everyone fought for their own convictionsthere would be no war.”— (War and Peace). Simply looking at these quotes, we can see thatDickens is more concerned with the poetics, lyrical and stylistic side of writingand storytelling. Even this passage from A Tale of Two Cities is a story in itself. WhileTolstoy is more concerned with wisdom, profundity.

And depth. Dickens’s line, if logicallydissected, doesn’t make so much sense. How can two opposites be true at the time?Well, in storytelling, you can compress two different locations and times into one. You canshrink time. That’s the magic of storytelling. Here is an example of Tolstoy’s language from AnnaKarenina when Levin’s so much in love with Kitty: “He so well knew that feeling of Levin’s,that for him all the girls in the world were divided into two classes: one class—allthe girls in the world except her, and those girls with all sorts of humanweaknesses, and very ordinary girls: the other class—she alone, having no weaknessesof any sort and higher than all humanity.” Here is Dickens in Great Expectationsabout Pip’s love for Stella:.

“The unqualified truth is, that when Iloved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found herirresistible. … I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope,against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved hernonetheless because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I haddevoutly believed her to be human perfection.” As we can see, both Tolstoy andDickens describe love as perfection. When you love someone you are blind totheir flaws, you only see the good side. But what’s interesting is that Tolstoyseparates her from the rest of humanity, almost god-like, while Dickens is more focused onthe irrational side of love of a man who would do.

Anything to achieve his goal. Tolstoy’s Levin isa bit passive while Dickens’s Pip is poised to do anything to get her. But as things transpire,Levin gets his woman while Pip fails. So to sum up, Dickens is more concerned to tellyou an entertaining story because in an industrial age, the customer is god. Tolstoy’s style isto write a novel, make it as long as possible, pick a fight with historians, and blameeverything on some mystical forces of history. Readers? Tolstoy didn’t think the customerwas always right. He was a Russian man, so he didn’t care what others thoughtabout him. Dickens was an Englishman, he was very worried about what others, I mean hisreaders thought about him and his stories.Dickens catered for his readers whileTolstoy catered for himself.

CharactersDickens’s and Tolstoy’s characters differ in their socio-economic class.Dickens’s tales are somewhat Cinderella type, poor people looking up, while Tolstoy’s talesare about wealthy people with one eye looking down at the peasants while with the other eyelooking at themselves in search of a purpose. As a result Dickens’s stories are more sentimentaland makes us pity them and even feel guilty as to how they are victimised by society andcircumstance. Quote: “In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever bringsthem up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.”— GreatExpectations. While in Tolstoy’s tales, his characters sort of accept their fate and areless likely to complain about their lives. Here.

Is a quote from Anna Karenina when a man cheatson his wife and the guilt that follows: “‘Stepan Arkadyevitch could be calm when he thought of hiswife, he could hope that she would _come round_, as Matvey expressed it, and could quietly go onreading his paper and drinking his coffee; but when he saw her tortured, suffering face, heardthe tone of her voice, submissive to fate and full of despair, there was a catch in his breath anda lump in his throat, and his eyes began to shine with tears. ‘My God! What have I done? Dolly! ForGod’s sake!… You know….' He could not go on; there was a sob in his throat. She shut the bureauwith a slam, and glanced at him. ‘Dolly, what can I say?… One thing: forgive…. Remember, cannotnine years of my life atone for an instant….’” At the end she does forgive him and the couple staymarried together because Russians are realistic..

Of course most of his characters arewell off but they still suffer greatly, due to historical events or family expectations oreven poverty. Dickens characters have a purpose, to better their lives economically. Eventhe term Dickensian today means a kind of social climbing. Here is a quote from DavidCopperfiled: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six ,result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six,result misery.” Tolstoy’s characters, however, not all, but mostly, have no financial goalso they look for something grander than money, happiness beyond the material comfort.They seek spiritual comfort. Age also plays an important role in theircharacters. Dickens’s most enduring characters.

Are children from disadvantaged families,mostly orphaned who chase their dream in the big city. David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Pipin Great Expectations are just a few examples. Tolstoy’s characters are for the most part adultswho are caught up in social and historical events. Pierre and Natasha in War and Peace, Anna andLevin in Anna Karenina all look for happiness and meaning, but have to struggle with thetide of history or family expectations. Tolstoy famously said that all great literature isone of two kinds, either a hero takes a journey or a stranger comes to town. So to understand Dickensand Tolstoy, I would change the quote and say, all great literature is a child growing up or anadult looking back to his or her own childhood. A good example is Proust’snovel In Search of Lost Time,.

Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. In factthe act of novel writing or fiction is a grownup trying to do child play. In fact, bothDickens and Tolstoy were obsessed with children as the most beautiful periodin a person’s life. Dickens’s novels are about children growing up, while Tolstoy’snovels are adults lost or seeking a path. Dickens’s characters are shackled by poverty so hewants the rich to share their wealth with the poor while Tolstoy’s characters are shackled by historyand social conventions. The poor have no financial means while the wealthy are stuck by norms.Dickens’s characters, while hampered economically, are psychologically freer. Tolstoy’s charactersare the opposite. While they don’t lack in wealth, but mentally they feel stifled by the socialnorms and family expectations, so they seek.

Meaning from the peasant. Here is a quote fromAnna Karenina when the couple finally have everything they expected: “Vronsky, meanwhile, inspite of the complete realization of what he had so long desired, was not perfectly happy. He soonfelt that the realization of his desires gave him no more than a grain of sand out of the mountainof happiness he had expected. It showed him the mistake men make in picturing to themselveshappiness as the realization of their desires.” For the most part, Dickens’s characters areslightly more square, meaning they have little room to grow and change. In other words, Dickens’scharacters are either heroes or villains. While Tolstoy’s characters are morefluid and able to grow on the page and they have many contradictions. Inother words, his characters are neither.

Complete villains nor complete heroes buta mix of both, which is closer to reality. In real life we are all full of contradictionsand have the dark and the light in us. I think it’s to do with their styles. Dickens’sstyle is a bit older, archaic while Tolstoy’s style is realistic. One could say that Dickenswrote many types of characters, meaning they differ from one another. Tolstoy however, has morecharacters that are similar in their outlook and life. I think Dickens wrote about other people,while Tolstoy mostly wrote about himself. In other words, he put himself in his characters’ shoesto animate them with the reality of the world. As we know, Tolstoy struggled with his ownhappiness and meaning in his life, so naturally his characters had the same struggle. Quote:”Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one.

Thinks of changing himself.” Tolstoy was acutelyaware of the internal struggle of his generation. Because of Tolstoy’s realism, GeorgeOrwell made a distinction between the two, characterising Dickens’s charactersas static while Tolstoy’s characters keep growing and changing. Dickens’stales make you feel good about people while Tolstoy’ tales tell you aboutthe uncomfortable truths of life. So to sum up Dickens tells his characters,smile boy, while Tolstoy tells his characters: Why smile? These are still the stereotypesabout the English and Russian people. English people smile to cover awkwardness while Russiansdon’t smile and don’t care about awkwardness. ThemesDickens’s canvas was the English Industrial.

Revolution where factories smoke like a cigaretteaddict, and more specifically the financial capital of the Empire, London. While the northand middle of England had all the factories where thousands of people moved in and out with theirfaces blackened by the smoke, London, however was covered in fog of a different sort. Herepeople stored their money in banks and stocks. Tolstoy’s canvas is 19th century Russia,wars, rapid modernisation of big cities like Saint-Petersburg and Moscow. But most importantly,his canvas is the debate between east and west, Russia and Europe. While Tolstoy for the most partignored this debate, he was not immune from it. Unlike Dostoevsky, Tolstoy was morewelcoming of the west. However, his heart was always with the Russian peasants, andthe agricultural class. In fact, in his novels,.

The deepest wisdom about the meaning of lifemostly comes from the poor, peasant or servants. In War and Peace, Pierre in his darkest hour,captured by the French army, meets a common man who rejuvenates his spirit by giving hima bigger perspective on life. Another example is in The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Ivan is notafraid of death after speaking to his servant. Dickens wrote about the fog of theindustrial revolution and the legal system, for example in Bleak House, he writes: “Fogeverywhere. Fog up the river where it flows among green airs and meadows; fog downthe river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the watersidepollution of a great (and dirty) city…. Chance people on the bridges peeping overthe parapets into a nether sky of fog,.

With fog all round them, as if they were up ina balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.” Tolstoy, on the other hand, wrote about the fogof war, gunpowder in War and Peace. Quote: “The night was foggy and through the fog the moonlightgleamed mysteriously. “Yes, tomorrow, tomorrow!” he thought. “Tomorrow everything may be over forme! All these memories will be no more, none of them will have any meaning for me. Tomorrowperhaps, even certainly, I have a presentment that for the first time I shall have to show all Ican do.” And his imagination pictured the battle, its loss, the concentration of fighting at onepoint, and the hesitation of all the commanders.” Here Tolstoy's character contemplatesthat his life might be over very soon. But in this passage, the fog provides a kindof security blanket in which soldiers feel.

Safe. Quote: “The fog had grown so dense thatthough it was growing light they could not see ten paces ahead. Bushes looked like gigantic treesand level ground like cliffs and slopes. Anywhere, on any side, one might encounter an enemyinvisible ten paces off. But the columns advanced for a long time, always in the same fog,descending and ascending hills, avoiding gardens and enclosures, going over new and unknownground, and nowhere encountering the enemy. On the contrary, the soldiers became awarethat in front, behind, and on all sides, other Russian columns were moving in thesame direction. Every soldier felt glad to know that to the unknown place where he wasgoing, many more of our men were going too.” This is incredibly powerful as you cansee things through the perspective of.

A soldier feeling comfort that he’ssurrounded by his fellow soldiers, just as a baby feel safe surroundedby their parents and family. Tolstoy was no nationalist, but he sawthe power of group over an individual. Tolstoy also talks about the trains smokingand dashing between Moscow and Saint-Petersburg in Anna Karenina. Dickens wrote about how tomove out poverty and gain financial freedom, while Tolstoy wrote about surviving wars andexistential meaning and happiness. Dickens wrote social protest novels, while Tolstoy protestedagainst historians and societal expectations. In fact the main theme of War and Peace isthis question of great men. Historians believe that men like Napoleon, Alexander the Great,Genghis Khan are the protagonists of history,.

But Tolstoy disagrees that they aregreat because of the action of all those people around them, the soldiers,the peasants, the women and children, but most crucially those who camebefore them and the historical events prior. What’s ironic is that Tolstoy didn’tbelieve in great men, he himself became one, today as one of the greatest Russian writersof all time.Or even world’s greatest writer. StatisticsWhen it comes to stats on Goodreads, Dickens wins in the number of ratings,and reviews but Tolstoy wins in enjoyment. Dickens has 3.5 million ratings while Tolstoyhas 1.4 million. Dickens has 115K reviews while Tolstoy has 70K reviews. It’s no surprise, giventhe fact that the English language gives Dickens.

A huge advantage. First, there are far moreEnglish speakers in the world than Russian. Second, almost 30% of the world speaksEnglish either as a first or second language. I say India reads Dickens. Butpeople enjoy Tolstoy’s work more than Dickens’s work as Tolstoy gets an averageof 4.07 stars while Dickens 3.9 stars. Dickens’s most popular book on Goodreadsis A Tale of Two Cities with 870K ratings, followed by Great Expectations with 720Kratings and A Christmas Carol with 710K ratings. Tolstoy's most popular novelis Anna Karenina with 750K ratings, and followed by War and Peace with 300K ratingsand The Death of Ivan Ilyich with 120K ratings. Now which you should read. I usually sayread both but here I will say, read both.

But at different times. When you read Tolstoy itcan get a bit heavy, so it lighten up your mood, read some Dickens. Previously I have said that Ilove Russian literature because it tells you the ugly truth, but to counter-balance that I oftenread one of Haruki Murakami’s books to escape reality for a bit. Of course, readingDickens is not an escape altogether, but he does make you feel good aboutthe world. Also I should point out that Tolstoy is not all bleak, buthe doesn’t shield you either. In my video comparing Tolstoy to Dostoevsky, Isaid Tolstoy was a great mother, compassionate, generous and someone who loves kidswhile Dostoevsky was the brooding father, seeking solitude in some underground or Siberia.Now, comparing Dickens to Tolstoy, it is obvious.

That Dickens is more motherly as he believes inthe magic of stories, and elements of fantasy and surprises in life while Tolstoy, like a father,tells you about the harsh realities of life. But I should make it clear that Dickens wrote aboutchildren but he didn’t write for children. PurposeFor me Tolstoy’s novels have incredible philosophical andpsychological depth, but Dickens’s novels are greatly entertaining and funny. Ifyou are a serious and seasoned reader, you will enjoy Tolstoy more. For me Russianliterature in general is like a punch in the face. I love it for its brutal honesty about theugliness of the world and reality. Tolstoy confronts you to seek a deeper purpose in life.Of course, I don’t enjoy his moralistic stance.

Sometimes but his novels open his characters,flash them out and you can see through them. While in Dickens’s novel, the struggle is morematerial, legal and external, in Tolstoy however, the struggle is more internal, existentialand spiritual. As a result, Dickens’s novels are hopeful and optimistic, while Tolstoy’snovels are often hopeless and pessimistic. Dickens, primarily, wrote for money and Tolstoy,mainly, wrote for artistic expression and legacy. As a result Dickens cares about the reader more,tries to entertain you, puts in a lot of effort to tell you a cracking story. While Tolstoy mostlyhas his own agenda. Maybe agenda is not the right word. He is seeking a purpose for himself throughhis writing but also he is a philosopher and visionary who wants to change the world throughhis words. When you read a Dickens's novel, you.

Don’t know where the story is going, as they twistand turn. Dickens was a genius storyteller. Well, he had to, because his career depended on it.Every week and month, thousands of people were waiting for him. When ships docked in New York,people queued up or even scrambled to get their copy of the newspaper or magazine like itwas Black Friday. It was a serial mania. Tolstoy is less concerned with the story but morefocused on understanding reality. In other words, Dickens was like a factory producing highlyentertaining novels, as a result his characters more archetypal and fixed. He relied on hisreaders enjoying his books so the newspapers could get their subscribers growing. It’slike a YouTuber, you always want to produce content people want to watch. So Dickens knew hisreaders. Tolstoy would be a terrible YouTuber..

Imagine War and Peace type of content on YouTube?Dickens rode the wave of new educated people being able to read for pleasure, thanks to theeducation system producing more readers like a factory would. He wrote about the industrialrevolution, people seeking their fortune, but he also benefited from the educationsystem. As a result Dickens himself, a poor boy, was an industrial age success story thanks to masseducation. Not only he received an education but also mass education increased his readership. Itwas a win-win all around. Tolstoy published his books mostly in long format. Why? Money wasn’this concern. But of course he did get rich. He earned a lot from his writing, which becamea huge problem for him. Tolstoy wanted to donate his money for some charitable causes, but his wifewas fiercely opposed, hence a very unhappy family.

Today: Dickensian or TolstoyanNow the question I posed earlier. Are you becoming more Dickensian or Tolstoyanas characters in our own lives in today’s world? We expect people to be more rounder people,meaning with more flexibility to grow and change or the ability to have widely contradictingopinions and behaviours because we live in a more open and accepting world, which is more in themould of Tolstoy. But since we live in a very political and culturally polarised society,the characters visible are more Dickensian, meaning people are stuck in their views or lessflexible to change. People are either just good or just bad. At least that’s how we see people inthe media. Politics is characterised by Dickensian personalities, heroes and villains. But I couldbe wrong, in real life, we are more Tolstoyan..

We have all the contradictions of Tolstoy’scharacters. We have the good, the bad, the ugly and the sublime all inside us,but when it comes to displaying those, we only show the good side on social media, whichskews our perception of others. So in private we are Tolstoyan, round, contradictory, happy,miserable but in public, we are Dickensian, fixed, square and always heroically happyand others are labelled as this or that. When young, we have a more rigid way of seeingthe world, but as we grow old, we become to accept people’s contradictions, life’s nuances,and seek greater meaning, so in our early years, we see the world through a Dickensian lensand later in life through a Tolstoyan lens. Another important distinction is that I think,unlike Dickens’s characters, most people in the.

West or rich countries suffer not from povertyor lack of food, but quite the opposite. People suffer from overeating. 30% of English people areobese according to Health Survey England in 2019. Has food become too cheap? No, it is somethingelse. We are missing something else so over-eating is not because we are hungry, it is because we’rehungry for some purpose in life, which is more in line with Tolstoy’s writing. As a result ofovereating, not only have we become lethargic, but we are also hooked to shopping and socialmedia in our search for some recognition and meaning in life.So overeating,alcohol and social media distraction are coping mechanism for lack of greatermeaning or purpose. I could be wrong. Another big trend is urbanisation. Dickens’scharacters went to the city to seek their.

Financial fortune. Globally more people aremoving to the city, but among the rich, however, the trend is in the opposite direction. RichBritish people move to the countryside. Tolstoy’s characters saw their future in the soil, in thecountry, among the peasants and close to nature. In fact Tolstoy lived most of his lifein his country estate, Yasnaya Polyana. In the city, people see all kinds ofpeople therefore you’re meant to show compassion. Dickens’s prose seeks our sympathyand compassion for the disadvantaged in the city where the poor and rich live side by side. In thecountryside, life is a lot tougher, so Tolstoy talks about some mystical force of nature thatgives your life meaning so you don’t despair over poverty. Here is a quote from Tolstoy’s FamilyHappiness: “A quiet secluded life in the country,.

With the possibility of being useful topeople to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done tothem; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love forone's neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.” Thank you for watching.

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