December 23, 2010

War and Peace — Tolstoy's 100th death anniversary!

By Nasira Parveen

Leo Tolstoy, by Tennyson Samraj
LAST WEEK a bloger friend came to inform me that I must visit her house along with my family members on the occasion of Christmas. In a time when our own Muslim relatives and friends are afraid of the  Pakistani secret agencies to contact us, this Christian family celebrated Eid with us and now we will celebrate Christmas with them. 

When she came to me, I was busy with reading a novel. During conversation she asked me which novel I was reading. “Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace,” I said. She was surprised.

“I couldn’t read it,” she said. “It’s really a bulky one—how you started reading it?”

No doubt, it’s not fun to touch the 1352-page Russian classic. But once I touched it, now I can’t leave it either. ‘War and Peace’ is one of the finest and most famous novel in the world. So I picked it and have finished the part one of it.

It's 100 years since Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) left this world physically but his literary works have never let him die. His intellectuality is benefiting human beings all over the world even today. I think he is physically not with us but his creativity writing is forcing us to treat him as a living legend!

Now Tolstoy is more famous than he was in his lifetime. Those who could not read his epic, they feel something lacking in their lives—even after becoming presidents and prime ministers! This is the level of his art. But just think—he could not win the Nobel Prize in Literature, being given to living legends every year since 1901. 

I like Tolstoy’s life-story besides his work. This novelist, dramatist and moral philosopher spiritually influenced Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) who shaped South Asia along with Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Tolstoy was born to an aristocrat family in central Russia. However, his artistic nature didn’t allow him to become an exploiter of the poor. This behavior brought him miseries from outside as well as within the family.

Here is a paragraph, from his novel, which I want to share with my blog-readers.

“Well, now, good-bye!" He gave his son his hand to kiss, and embraced him. "Remember this, Prince Andrew, if they kill you it will hurt me, your old father…"

He paused unexpectedly, and then in a querulous voice suddenly shrieked: "But if I hear that you have not behaved like a son of Nicholas Bolkonski, I shall be ashamed!"

"You need not have said to me, father," said the son with a smile.

The old man was silent.

"I also wanted to ask you," continued Prince Andrew, "if  I’m killed and if I have a son, do not let him be taken away from you-as I said yesterday… let him grow up with you please.”     

I’m moved by this paragraph! It shows the feelings which a father is having for his son, and the son about his expected son before going to join the army! 

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