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Leo Tolstoy: The Hero is Truth

This course will study five works of fiction by a giant of world literature. We will explore his identity as a social reformer, moral thinker, and a novelist with deep insight into the human character, families, war, peace, love, passion, and (especially) truth, something Tolstoy suggested was always the true hero of his stories. We will discuss his two masterpieces of realist fiction that led to his reputation as creating not simply works of art, but “pieces of life,” and which led Isaak Babel to comment that, if the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy.  His two greatest novels will  feature one of literature’s most passionate and tragic romances, families unhappy each in their own way, peasants, aristocrats, generals, the drawing rooms of St Petersburg, the killing fields of Borodino, everyday people and Napoleon himself, and will explore philosophical issues such as chance, fate, freedom, coincidence, predestination, and spiritual transformation. We will also read his third and final novel that explores Tolstoy as he was best known in his time—as a sage and social thinker who inspired such leaders as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King as well as today’s champions of human rights. Readings include War and Peace (two sessions) Anna Karenina (two sessions), and Resurrection  (guest lecture by Professor Nicholas Birns).  Students should read War and Peace, Volumes One and Two, for the first class. 

More details

You'll Walk Away with

  • Increased cultural literacy
  • Familiarity with 19th-century literature

Ideal for

  • The curious and creative
  • Professionals who use critical thinking

1 section

  • Fall 2024

    • Section

    • Semester

      Fall 2024
    • Date

      Sep 9 - Dec 2
    • Day

    • Time

      • In-Person
    • Format

      • In-Person
    • Sessions

    • Faculty

    • Location

      Midtown Center