What Then Must We Do?, by Leo Tolstoy

Very competent summary of one of Tolstoy’s later works of non-fiction, followed by a comparison with the blog writer’s own perspectives.

Philo on Books

What Then Must We Do

What Then Must We Do? is an intriguing book in some ways and a convincing book in some ways, but in other ways it is decidedly neither of these things.

This is one of Tolstoy’s efforts at moral and political philosophy. He wrote this when he had all but abandoned his career as a novelist and was devoting himself to trying to alert people to the insanity of modern life, and its violence and social injustice.

Much of the book consists of lengthy arguments about politics and economics and such—more on that below—but it begins with a long descriptive section that is more novelistic in style. In it, Tolstoy recounts his observations of urban poverty and his futile early efforts to combat it.

I think this is the section that will most appeal to most readers. Tolstoy presents himself as something of a well-intentioned naïf, appalled by what he sees…

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