Thursday, May 1, 2008


All his life, at every moment, he possessed the faculty of seeing phenomena in the detached finality of each separate instant, in perfectly distinct outline, as we see only on rare occasions, in childhood, or on the crest of an all-renewing happiness, or in the triumph of a great spiritual victory.

To see things like that, our eye must be directed by passion. For it is passion that by its flash illuminates an object, intensifying its appearance.

Such passion, the passion of creative contemplation, Tolstoy constantly carried with him. It was precisely in its light that he saw everything in its pristine freshness, in a new way, as if for the first time. The authenticity of what he saw differs so much from what we are used to that it may appear strange to us. But Tolstoy was not seeking that strangeness, was not pursuing it as a goal, still less did he apply it to his works as a literary method.

Pasternak, from People and Situations (1956)
(qtd. by Richard Pevear in the Introduction to War and Peace)

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