Yet more people live far better than they used to even if it comes at the cost of living without substance or real beauty.
The world wanted practicality and fairness, not idleness and elitism. And now what is the world like, a world of technology and engineers, a world where everyone is the same, has an equal voice and everything is produced to satisfy the most people (with the least substance). There is no authority anymore, all opinions are valid and so no opinions are valid (if everything is on sale, nothing is on sale).
Zweig killed himself became he was depressed at the state of the world and that he thought the world he loved was gone forever. And while his world was, indeed, beautiful, it was beautiful for only those that could afford it. He was privileged; the majority of the world was not. The world exploded because in part, it wanted what he and people like him had…
“Later one knows that the actual course of one’s life was determined from within; however confusedly and meaninglessly our way may deviate from our desires, after all it does lead us inevitably to our invisible goal.”
both his 2 forays into the theater ended with the death of the enthusiastic actor who had got the ball rolling in the first place.
I love how he explains that while he talks on a telephone, burned electric light, and used a typewriter, just 20 steps above him lay an old women whom “Goethe’s eye had deliberately looked upon.” He was “transported into another century and stood in the holy shadow of the world of Goethe.”
he is a collector in the way a Catholic or Orthodox values that connection between the thing and the divine. Be it an icon or a relic or a cathedral, they represent a link to the divine just as his Blake or his Goethe connect him to their genius.
“Arrived at an age when others had already long been married and had children and held important positions, and were obliged to produce the best that was in them with all their energy, I still regarded myself as youthful, a beginner who faced immeasurable time, and I was hesitant about final decisions of any kind.”
interesting how his beloved image was a William Blake of King John who had been the impetus for the Magna Carter to settle the power struggle between the king and the barons.
The newspaper article about the suitcase affair is typical of how the media always works, sensationalizing everything and exaggerating everything. No wonder the middle class hate everyone, that’s what they’re told to do.
The poor man (thief), the rich man (who forgives), and the middle class (who despises both).
this scene with the suitcase thief is telling about the different types of people in the world. There is, of course, the thief who instead of money had pictures of dancers and nude models in his wallet. The thief is a mouse of a man, too. Then there is Zweig who does not press charges and the officer who is glad not to do paperwork. Then the innkeeper who believes all these criminals should be tossed in jail
Rodin, too, became like the nun, lost in his art and oblivious to time and everything else. Peace was there, the pursuit of perfection, of understanding through art.
“Great moments are always outside of time.”
this scene with Rilke when they go to the graves of the revolution’s guillotine victims, Andre Chenier among them, feels like a precursor to the coming storm. The nun prays on her rosary in the garden of the hidden convent as if praying for the future and weeping for the past.
Rilke is like the embodiment of that world of yesterday, fragile, effeminate, quiet, easily upset by the modern, the emotional (he could only handle the Russians in small doses), the loud. The modern world would grind up men like this on the front lines and trenches.
oh to live in a world where the liberal arts are the cement of society, where thought is as important as utility, where freedom is more important than money.
poets and artists were given jobs with little to no work, such as fetching books for a senator that never read.
He goes on to say the only way to really know a city is through its “best people”, though his definition of best is liberal.
Anagnorisis is what Aristotle describes as the heros moment of discovery, such as oedipus learning his wife is his mother. Aristotle ranked this as the highest artistic expression
the Palais-Royal is no small building, it’s quite the opposite! To live surrounded by such luxury!
The Year is 1904
He first describes Paris as the Nazis descend upon it, with a swastika hanging from the Eifel tower.
Imagine being able to just up and decide to live in Paris just to be free! Must be nice to have money, though he has earned his friends and reputation
Ellen Key was a radical liberal who believed the the government, not husband, should take care of mothers because of how important mothers were. She predicted the child – centric 20th century.
sort of anticlimactic when he manages to pass University with honors because the professor was kindly to him for the work he had already done.
he describes Verhaeren as an ideal with no troubles or worries, very sentimental
“Count! One God is above us both….”
If those words were headed all through history then a lot of trouble and blood would have been saved.
Considering that Rostopchin was leaving the poor of the city to fight the French how unreasonable is it for someone like Vereshchagin to want to make a peace with Napoleon. They can’t fight him, but they could easily be killed by him if they try. Isn’t the Russian Army’s job to protect the people, if they don’t then why not save yourself in an otherwise hopeless situation? The Mongols would’ve understood.
“Since the world began and men have killed one another no one has ever committed such a crime against his fellow man without comforting himself with this same idea. This idea is le bien public, the hypothetical welfare of other people.”
Tolstoy goes to great pains to talk about how no one man can really lead anything, especially an army in battle, so why is he so hard on Rostopchin? The wealthy were going to leave no matter what he said, and the poor, though he roused them to action, were not in any position to fight the Napoleon’s Army, no matter how wounded an animal it was. People were going to behave no matter what, so why blame?
“One need only admit that public tranquility is in danger and any action finds a justification.”
A ukase, or ukaz in Imperial Russia, was a proclamation of the tsar, government, or a religious leader (patriarch) that had the force of law.
Martial law is in effect because the “lower classes” are going to turn to killing each other without law and order. “How can one do without government?”
Tolstoy is not very subtle or nuanced in how he writes the lower classes.