Leo Tolstoy

The Media and the Mediatrix

A mediator is someone who is situated between two parties and seeks to bring them into accord. The mediator does have a particular position of his own but operates in a completely unselfish manner. A medium, in the sense of a psychic, refers to one who establishes contact with the supernatural world. All three senses [...]

Have Yourself a Simple Little Christmas

After years of literary success and popular acclaim, Leo Tolstoy became dissatisfied with the complacency of the intelligentsia in what it had accepted as life’s meaning (or lack thereof)—in a word, he was suicidal. He had become convinced that no answer to his existential questions could be found in the “chemical compositions of the stars” [...]

Respice finem: Death and Life in Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilych”

Despite years of reading, rereading, and teaching great works, I continue to marvel at the inevitable timeliness of timeless literature. And so, as I prepare to teach "The Death of Ivan Ilych" once again, on the cusp of the month the Church has dedicated to All Holy Souls, I am struck by how Leo Tolstoy’s novella [...]

Despair and Hope in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina doesn’t end with the suicide of Anna. Its final section concludes the story of its other primary character, Constantin Levin. Levin’s situation is very different from Anna’s. He is married to the woman he loves, who has recently given birth to their first child, a healthy son. They live on a farm [...]

Teaching Death to Nursing Students with Leo Tolstoy

 To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. ~ T. S. Eliot We’ve come to the close of our annual month-long reminder of the obvious: We’re all going to die. It’s a truism that we learned as kids in Sunday school and CCD—the first of the four [...]

The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy: A Story for All Souls

A man lies on his deathbed—screaming; screaming for three days without cessation. Even behind closed doors, the sound horrifies all who hear even its muffled suggestion. The death of Ivan Ilych was no peaceful affair. It was a fight literally to the death; and it is a struggle we all must undergo, for we all [...]

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