Leo Tolstoy Quotes

74 of the best book quotes from Leo Tolstoy
“‘Nothing,’ wrote Tolstoy, ‘can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.‘”
“She hardly knew at times what it was she feared, and what she hoped for. Whether she feared or desired what had happened or what was going to happen and exactly what she longed for, she could not have said.”
“What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness.”
“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
“Love those that hate you, but to love those one hates is impossible.”
“He was angry with all of them for their interference just because he felt in his soul that they, all these people, were right. He felt that the love that bound him to Anna was not a momentary impulse, which would pass, as worldly intrigues do pass, leaving no other traces in the life of either but pleasant or unpleasant memories. He felt all the torture of his own and her position, all the difficulty there was for them, conspicuous as they were in the eye of all the world, in concealing their love, in lying and deceiving; and in lying, deceiving, feigning, and continually thinking of others, when the passion that united them was so intense that they were both oblivious of everything else but their love.”
We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.
If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.
There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.
You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.
“No, no, reconciliation is impossible. Even if we remain in the same house, we are strangers – strangers forever!” She repeated again with special significance the word so dreadful to her. “And how I loved him! my God, how I loved him!.... How I loved him! And now don’t I love him? Don’t I love him more than before? The most horrible thing is,” she began, but did not finish her thought, because Matrona Philimonovna put her head in at the door.”
“It’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.”
God is the same everywhere.
“The place where she stood seemed to him a holy shrine, unapproachable, and there was one moment when he was almost retreating, so overwhelmed was he with terror. He had to make an effort to master himself, and to remind himself that people of all sorts were moving about her, and that he too might come there to skate. He walked down, for a long while avoiding looking at her as at the sun, but seeing her, as one does the sun, without looking.”
A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, ‘Today I’m going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep.’
The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience
“The French fashion — of the parents arranging their children’s future — was not accepted; it was condemned. The English fashion of the complete independence of girls was also not accepted, and not possible in Russian society. The Russian fashion of matchmaking by the officer of intermediate persons was for some reason considered disgraceful; it was ridiculed by everyone, and by the princess herself. But how girls were to be married, and how parents were to marry them, no one knew.”
“I think...if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.”
“Every heart has its own skeletons.”
“Ferreting in one’s soul, one often ferrets out something that might have lain there unnoticed.”
“It’s hard to love a woman and do anything.”
Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women
“His ideas of marriage were, consequently, quite unlike those of the great majority of his acquaintances, for whom getting married was one of the numerous facts of social life. For Levin it was the chief affair of life, on which its whole happiness turned.”
Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself.
“I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.”
It’s all God’s will: you can die in your sleep, and God can spare you in battle
“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
“If you look for perfection, you will never be satisfied.”
“I’ll be bad; but anyway not a liar, a cheat.”
“Love. Why I don’t like the word is that it means too much to me, far more than you can understand,” and she glanced into his face. ‘Au revoir!‘”
″‘You’ve said nothing, of course, and I ask nothing,’ he was saying; ‘but you know that friendship’s not what I want: that there’s only one happiness in life for me, that word that you dislike so ... yes, love!...‘”
“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”
“Anything’s better than lying and deceit.”
“All the girls in the world were divided into two classes: one class--all the girls in the world except her, and those girls with all sorts of human weaknesses, and very ordinary girls: the other class--she alone, having no weaknesses of any sort and higher than all humanity.”
“They haven’t an idea of what happiness is; they don’t know that without our love, for us there is neither happiness nor unhappiness--no life at all.”
″‘If you love me, as you say,’ she whispered, ‘do so that I may be at peace.‘”
″‘I’ll tell you one thing,’ Kevin said as we joined the mob in the hallways, ‘she better be fake.’ I asked him what he meant. ‘I mean if she’s real, she’s in big trouble. How long do you think somebody who’s really like that is going to last around here?‘”
“If so many men, so many minds, certainly so many hearts, so many kinds of love.”
If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself.
We are asleep until we fall in love!
Some one dear to one can be loved with human love; but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.
Pierre was right when he said that one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy, and I now believe in it. Let the dead bury the dead, but while I’m alive, I must live and be happy.
Everything I know, I know because of love.
I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed.
Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.
It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong.
The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness.
I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself.
Yes, love, but not the love that loves for something, to gain something, or because of something, but that love that I felt for the first time, when dying, I saw my enemy and yet loved him.
Human science fragments everything in order to understand it, kills everything in order to examine it.
If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed.
Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs.
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
“Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”
“In his work itself, especially in his examinations, he very soon acquired a method of eliminating all considerations irrelevant to the legal aspect of the case, and reducing even the most complicated case to a form in which it would be presented on paper only in its externals, completely excluding his personal opinion of the matter, while above all observing every prescribed formality.”
“There, in childhood, there had been something really pleasant with which it would be possible to live if it could return. But the child who had experienced that happiness existed no longer, it was like a reminiscence of somebody else.”
“Suddenly some force struck him in the chest and side, making it still harder to breathe, and he fell through the hole and there at the bottom was a light.”
“Just then his schoolboy son had crept softly in and gone up to the bedside. The dying man was still screaming desperately and waving his arms. His hand fell on the boy’s head, and the boy caught it, pressed it to his lips, and began to cry.”
“Besides considerations as to the possible transfers and promotions likely to result from Ivan Ilych’s death, the mere fact of the death of a near acquaintance aroused, as usual, in all who heard of it the complacent feeling that, “it is he who is dead and not I.”
“He was much changed and grown even thinner since Pyotr Ivanovich had last seen him, but, as is always the case with the dead, his face was handsomer and above all more dignified than when he was alive.”
“The expression on his face seemed to say that what had needed to be done had been done, and done right. Beside this his expression also seemed to hold warning, a reproach to the living.”
“He suffered ever the same unceasing agonies and in his loneliness pondered always on the same insoluble question: ‘What is this? Can it be that it is Death?’ And the inner voice answered: ‘Yes, it is Death.‘”
″‘Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done,’ it suddenly occurred to him. ‘But how could that be, when I did everything properly?’ he replied, and immediately dismissed from his mind this, the sole solution of all the riddles of life and death, as something quite impossible.”
“He sought his former accustomed fear of death and did not find it. ‘Where is it? What death?’ There was no fear because there was no death. In place of death there was light.”
“Ivan Ilych was...a capable, cheerful, good-natured, and sociable man, though strict in the fulfillment of what he considered to be his duty: and he considered his duty to be what was so considered by those in authority.”
“But now, as an examining magistrate, Ivan Ilych felt that everyone without exception, even the most important and self-satisfied, was in his power, and that he need only write a few words on a sheet of paper with a certain heading, and this or that important, self- satisfied person would be brought before him in the role of an accused person or a witness, and if he did not choose to allow him to sit down, would have to stand before him and answer his questions.”
“Ivan Ilych never abused his power; he tried on the contrary to soften its expression, but the consciousness of it and the possibility of softening its effect, supplied the chief interest and attraction of his office.”
“It is as if I had been going downhill while I imagined I was going up. And that is really what it was. I was going up in public opinion, but to the same extent life was ebbing away from me. And now it is all done and there is only death.”
“And in imagination he began to recall the best moments of his pleasant life. But strange to say none of those best moments of his pleasant life now seemed at all what they had then seemed”
“The preparations for marriage and the beginning of married life, with its conjugal caresses, the new furniture, new crockery, and new linen, were very pleasant until his wife became pregnant”
“But from the first months of his wife’s pregnancy, something new, unpleasant, depressing, and unseemly, and from which there was no way of escape, unexpectedly showed itself.”
“The pleasures connected with his work were pleasures of ambition; his social pleasures were those of vanity; but Ivan Ilych’s greatest pleasure was playing bridge.”
″‘So that’s what it is!’ he suddenly exclaimed aloud. ‘What joy!‘”

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