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Book Review

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Tolstoy spent over fifteen years collecting "the wisdom of the centuries in one book" (6). He began compiling this wisdom in written form, as quotes from the world's sacred texts and from famous (as well as obscure) artists, in 1902-1903. The first version of the resulting book was published in 1904. It was reprinted three times during his lifetime, variously titled Thoughts of Wise Men, A Circle of Reading, or The Way of Life. It is the early version of the book that made it into the 1957 Soviet edition of Tolstoy's collected works as Krug chteniia: izbrannye, sobrannye i raspolozhennye na kazhdyi den' L'vom Tolstym mysli mnogikh pisatelei ob istine, zhizni, i povedenii. However, between 1904 and 1907 Tolstoy worked on a substantially enlarged, revised version, which differed significantly from the first. Now the thoughts were grouped by topic - God, Intellect, Law, Love, Diving Natures of Mankind, Faith, Temptations, Word, Self-Sacrifice, etc. - and ordered as themes for each day, week, and month. In addition, he included a short story for the end of each week, and called these The Sunday Reading Stories. It is this second, complete version, entitled A Calendar of Wisdom, which Peter Sekirin has translated into English for the first times. Only The Sunday Reading Stories (52 vignettes in all) are not included in this translation.

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Copyright © 1999 American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages. This review first appeared in The Slavic and East European Journal 43:3 (1999), 555-556.

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