1828-1910, Russian Novelist, Philosopher
A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally both in mind and body as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world and therefore, as an Englishman, always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German's self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth — science — which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Complacency]
A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator the smaller the fraction.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Thoughts and Thinking]
A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Writers and Writing]
All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Family]
All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Love]
Boredom: the desire for desires.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Bores and Boredom]
But the peasants — how do the peasants die?
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Death and Dying]
Christianity, with its doctrine of humility, of forgiveness, of love, is incompatible with the state, with its haughtiness, its violence, its punishment and its wars.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Christians and Christianity]
Conceit is incompatible with understanding.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Conceit]
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Change]
Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Understanding]
He never chooses an opinion, he just wears whatever happens to be in style.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Fashion]
Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Hypocrisy]
I am always with myself and it is I who am my tormentor.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Self-control]
I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means — except by getting off his back.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Liberals]
In historic events, the so-called great men are labels giving names to events, and like labels they have but the smallest connection with the event itself. Every act of theirs, which appears to them an act of their own will, is in an historical sense involuntary and is related to the whole course of history and predestined from eternity.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Greatness]
In quiet and untroubled times it seems to every administrator that it is only by his efforts that the whole population under his rule is kept going, and in this consciousness of being indispensable every administrator finds the chief reward of his labor and efforts. While the sea of history remains calm the ruler-administrator in his frail bark, holding on with a boat hook to the ship of the people and himself moving, naturally imagines that his efforts move the ship he is holding on to. But as soon as a storm arises and the sea begins to heave and the ship to move, such a delusion is no longer possible. The ship moves independently with its own enormous motion, the boat hook no longer reaches the moving vessel, and suddenly the administrator, instead of appearing a ruler and a source of power, becomes an insignificant, useless, feeble man.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Government]
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Beauty]
Joy can be real only if people look on their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Service]
Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.
Count Leo Tolstoy – [Love]