Monday, September 17, 2018

Quote: Reading Stefan Zweig's biography of Romain Rolland

'The precondition of every true calling must be, not love for art, but love for mankind. Those only who are filled with such a love can hope that they will ever be able, as artists, to do anything worth doing."
In 1887, the twenty-one year old Romain Rolland has finished his classwork at the Ècole Normale of Paris; he reads Tolstoy's brand new What Is To Be Done, the book in which Tolstoy condemns all art as a pernicious slide into sensuality. But Rolland wants to be an artist, a musician or a writer! (or both: Richard Wagner was recently dead.) It was a crisis! He writes a letter to Tolstoy explaining his predicament and Tolstoy sends back a 38-page response to the at-that-time unknown Rolland that begins "Cher Frère." The above is Zweig's summary of the conclusion (tr. by Eden and Cedar Paul, 1921).

Thirty-eight pages...oh, that Tolstoy...

But I do like the quote. 

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