A Glimpse of Truth: War and Peace

Prince Andrew’s dying words, from Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”:

Yes, love, …but not the love that loves for something, to gain something, or because of something, but that love that I felt for the first time, when dying, I saw my enemy and yet loved him. I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed. And I know that blissful feeling now too. To love one’s neighbours; to love one’s enemies. To love everything – to Love God in all His manifestations. Some one dear to one can be loved with human love; but an enemy can only be loved with divine love. And that was why I felt such joy when I felt that I loved that man. What happened to him? Is he alive? …Loving with human love, one may pass from love to hatred; but divine love cannot change. Nothing, not even death, can shatter it. It is the very nature of the soul. And how many people I have hated in my life. And of all people none I have loved and hated more than her.

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  • Adriana

    Oh Nick. This quote is just one example of why I’m absolutely GONE over Tolstoy’s writing. I can’t stop reading Anna Karenina, even though I finished it a few months ago.

    I esp. love the chapters immediately proceeding the point when Konstantin Levin finally comes to faith. He wrestles with the idea of loving one’s neighbor — how contrary that is to our struggle for existence and our natural tendency to “oppress all who hinder the satisfaction of our desires. “But loving one’s neighbor,” Levin says, “reason could never discover, because it’s unreasonable.”

    I feel that Levin’s conversion is the true climax of the novel, though some may disagree.

    I have a lot on my TBR list right now but W&P is a high priority. I’m SO glad you shared this! I love to swap quotes! :)

    • nmcdonal

      I’m really getting into the great orthodox Russian writers now, Adriana, after hearing the testimony of a woman who lived in Russia when Bibles were banned. She was a literature professor, and her glimpses of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky’s vision of life eventually lead her to Christ. Amazing that the Lord preserved his word through these men! I finished The Brothers last year, and it was worth the work. Its the kind of book that works its way through your system slowly, over time. I’m still digesting it.

      • Adriana

        That story brings tears to my eyes, Nick.
        I spent some time in Moscow in 1994. I met the most tender, precious Christian people you could imagine. I passed out hundreds of Bibles right under a statue of Lenin. I also taught Bible lessons in public schools there.

        I asked one dear lady how she became a Christian under communism and she replied, ” While I was in school, they spent so much time trying to convince me there was no God, I got suspicious.” It was such an honor to spend time with these believers. They had so little, but their hospitality was enormous. It left a lasting impression on me. I could ramble on for hours about my experience.

        I know what you mean about Dostoevsky too. I read Crime and Punishment a few months ago and I’m still digesting it as well. Incidentally, I’ve just decided cover C&P for my Classics and the Bible blog. I’m involved in a very long project in which I’m drawing connections between the Bible and Classic Literature. I’ve been working through AK for the last few months.

  • http://timfall.wordpress.com/ Tim

    That quote reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s statement about war and how two Christians could fight on opposite sides, simultaneously kill each other, and then embrace one another in the love of Christ once on the other side of death. Christ’s love is like no other, that’s for sure.