one of the commonest and most generally accepted delusions is that every man can be qualified in some particular way; said to be kind, wicked, stupid, energetic, apathetic, and so on. people are not like that. we may say of a man that he is more often kind than cruel, more often wise than stupid, more often energetic than apathetic or vice versa; but it could never be true to say of one man that he is kind or wise, and of another that he is wicked or stupid. yet we are always classifying mankind in this way. and it is wrong. human beings are like rivers; the water is one and the same in all of them but every river is narrow in some places, flows swifter in others; here it is broad, there still, or clear, or cold, or muddy or warm. it is the same with men. every man bears within him the germs of every human quality, and now manifests one, now another, and frequently is quite unlike himself, while still remaining the same man.
this is my favourite tolstoy novel. it is based on a story Tolstoy had heard from a lawyer friend, about a wealthy man who seduced a serving girl. this had led to the serving girl's dismissal, after which she fell into bad straits. years later, the man happened to serve on a jury that was trying the case of a prostitute accused of stealing money from a client. he recognized the prostitute as the girl he had seduced; his conscience sparked to life and he decided to marry the girl, who was sentenced to four months in prison. they eventually did marry. this story touched Tolstoy deeply as he himself had seduced a serving girl once, which had also led to her dismissal, and, eventually, to her death. therefore, he took the basic story and adapted it to his own ends. as the work stands, it is a complex narrative tracing the moral resurrection of a man, and manages also to be an interesting narrative argument against punishment. the argument is that no one has any right to punish anyone else at all. i find resurrection
extremely interesting despite the poorly executed descriptions (tolstoy's attention to detail is nowhere to be found) and characterization (his characters are highly one-dimensional).