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Symington, N. (2002). Response to Annie Anargyros-Klinger's ‘Depression and Leo Tolstoy’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(6):1438-1441.

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(6):1438-1441

Response to Annie Anargyros-Klinger's ‘Depression and Leo Tolstoy’

Neville Symington

Dear Sirs,

I would like to make some comments on this article, which appeared in Int. J. Psycho-Anal. in April 2002 (Vol. 83, Pt. 2).

First, it should be noted that there is a pejorative tone in the author's description of Tolstoy. For instance, she starts by saying that ‘The prestige and fame of the great novelist have left the vast majority of his readers with the unfailing image of an artist of genius. And yet…’. The implication here is clearly that this image of Tolstoy as an artist of genius is a misapprehension. Later she comments that ‘He devoted himself to writing innumerable and turgid religious and philosophical works…’. The adjective ‘turgid’ suggests that these works lack worth, yet the two essays from this period to which the author is referring, ‘What is religion?’ and ‘What is art?’ are two of the most brilliant essays ever written upon the essence of religion and the essence of art.

Elsewhere in the article, the author says that ‘The interest in following the thread of depression throughout the course of his life and works is that of glimpsing the particular path that led Tolstoy to use this banal destiny to create his unique work’. The adjective ‘banal’ carries the same pejorative tone used throughout the article. The reader is, therefore, invited to believe that Tolstoy's works are not what they purport to be; they are flawed and should not hold the place that they do within the canons of literature. The author goes on to explain why the general opinion is misplaced.

She offers several reasons and her explanation leads to the second point that I would like to mention here. First, she says that Tolstoy was world-weary and depressed. That he suffered from depression is incontestable but ‘world-weary’ is not an adjective I would ever use of him.

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