Leo Tolstoy: The Hero is Truth

Register for this Spring 2023 course on the new NYU SPS Academy of Lifelong Learning website.
This course will study five works of fiction by a giant of world literature, Leo Tolstoy. 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 an early novella about a Chechen rebel praised as “the best story in the world,” as well as 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, up to today’s champions of human rights. Readings include Hadji Murad; War and Peace (two sessions); Anna Karenina ; and Resurrection . Students should read Hadji Murad for the first class.  Spring 2023 tuition is $399.

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You'll Walk Away with

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

Ideal for

  • The curious and creative
  • Professionals who use critical thinking
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.