Clipped From The Observer
TOLSTOI AS GORKY SAW HIM. Hr.Mnnsciscis or Lio NiconrrvrrcH Tolstoi. By Maxim Gorky. (Hogarth Press. S. not.) For Tolstovana and non-Tolstovans non-Tolstovans non-Tolstovans there is peculiar interest in these fragmentary notes. Different in quality and in mental stature as they may be, both as artists and men, for the merely curious there is almost o much interest interest to 'be got from the illumination of Gorky as of Tolstoi. Gorky is obviously not a disciple, tut he has felt the greatness of the mini with the more conviction, it might almost i appear, beoau.se Uie messaua tint uoi t-oueJi t-oueJi t-oueJi attitude. on tho Bubioc And Tolstoi seems to havo boon content ' He hardly ever spoke to mo on the Bubjoct" (Tolstoi hod talked of BJ:ef m uod), and its ser.ousii.'SS and the sud demies of it ratlier overwhelmed me. I was silent. '. . . He was sitting on the cout-b cout-b cout-b with his lege drawn up uuder him, and breaking breaking into a triumphant littlo smile, ruid fdiiiiiii" hi3 finger at me, lie said : ' You won't cot out oi wub by Biloiico, no. And I. who do not ! believe in God. looked nl. him frvr anni rAnMii 1 ., -, -, , , " ;, Z. , " ; . rr.TT v "...v. u. u.to wmuii ttle timidly ; I looked j is godlike.' " ad. thought, "The man .He appears so, through all thes note "tho kind 01 Kussiau sod who Sits on a miwile throne under a golden lime-tree lime-tree lime-tree ' not verv majestic, hut perhaps more cunning than ail the other cods.' Gorkv returns acain ! and again to this : " liven liis name j epeaka of power. In the flauntiuR ueiiory 01 me Crimea ifle was ot onco both out of place and in his place. Ho seemed a very ancient man, master of afli his surroundings surroundings a master-builder, master-builder, master-builder, who after centuries of absence has arrived in tho mansion built by him." His Titan stature among other men involves uvtenser preoccupations. " The thought which beyond othera most often and conspicuously gnaws at hdm is tilio thought of God. " At moments it seems, indeed not to bs a thought, but a violent resistance to something which he feels above him." There is violence, then, alongside of his pacificism, but " contradictoriness is not folly." "Ho reminds mo of those pilgrims who all their life long, stick in hand, walk tho earth, travelling travelling thousands of miles from one saint's relics to another, terribly homeless and alien to all men and things." This alien sense, almost Invariable attribute of greatness, roused at times in Gorky a feeling of antagonism, very like hatred. " His disproportionately overgrown overgrown individuality is a monstrous phenomenon, phenomenon, almost ugly, and there is In him something something of Sviatogor, the bogatir, whom the earth can't hold. Yes, he is great. I am deeply convinced that, beyond all that he speaks about, there is' much that he is silent about, even in his diary." It would be hard "to match that, for pnrs illumination. The " silence " of the lonely giant " a loneliness, which probably, no one but he has ezparlonced with suah terrifying clearness." We quote, and quote again, because because nearly every line of those brief reflections reflections or criticisms has 'its- 'its- own ' terrifying clearness." It is not th Tolstoi of "hio- "hio- graphers and disciples that is here displnyed. hit is the contradictory, helpless, tremendous creature in wnom Jtre was richer and more dreadful than in other men. One is reminded of the eer of the bystanders at another tragedy" he saved others, himself ho cannot save," for Gorky's Tolstoi is unable to transcend. " All his life he feared nnd hated death. The whole world looks towards him: from everywhere, living, throbbing threads stretch out to him : his soul is for all and for ever. Whv should not Nature make an exception to her law. civa to one man physical Immortality f He is too natural to believe in miracles, but on the other hand, he is a bogatir, and, like a young recruit, wild and headstrong from fear in face of the unknown barracke." How far these notes will satisfv th dnvnn. those to whom Tolstoi sometimes showed " jnst as much of tho barin as was needed for these serfs, " is uncertain, but their peculiar value is unonestlonable. Thev do not Vi. little genius. They exalt and do honour to one wno was great in, some curious sense wide, indefinable by words." And " there is somotuing in nun which made me desire to cry aloud, 'Look what a wonderful man is living on the earth.' "