This was good, I liked two Tolstoy novellas I have read much better than the more popular epic monsters. This one is alive with a sort of energy I never expected from him. And this book even faced censorship! Both Russia and USA thought it was indecent. Well, outside DH Lawrence, it is most sex-centric book I have read that doesn’t use the word ‘sex’. Roosevelt even called him immoralist for writing the book.
Actually Tolstoy’s fault lies in opposite direction. He is telling you how sex is a bad thing. He is telling everyone that we should offer sexual abstinence, even if it means humanity must perish – influenced by Christianity. He is the perfect example of the corrupted Christian that Nietzsche talked about in his Antichrist. (Last book I read.) I am not a fan of his epic books, but you could love the author who wrote them – compassionate, jumping in mind of one character from that of other, refusing to pass the judgment. Here he is just struck in mind of one character who judges everyone – including himself.
Now if you read the book knowing author’s intentions, the book is spoiled. But read the book for itself ignoring author’s intentions, you have a good novella – the protagonist is preaching but you don’t have to take his summons, his opinions are influenced by his life, you just read his story and be entertained by how his pessimism Colorado everything he sees. And there is that element about hypnotic effect of music which is best thing about the novella.
(Note: the first image in the post is 1901 painting by Francois Xavier Prinet inspired from Kreuzer Sonata.)