An international slate of acclaimed authors and scholars of the work of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) will participate in a conference titled “Tolstoy and Spirituality” on April 21-22 at the College of the Holy Cross. All conference sessions, which will be held in the Rehm Library, are free and open to the public. A schedule is available on the conference website.
Tolstoy, best known for his books including “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina,” succumbed to a severe spiritual crisis around his 50th birthday, which he resolved by rediscovering Christianity. However, Tolstoy’s rereading of the faith was considered highly controversial. In this conference, presenters will analyze his works of fiction and nonfiction to assess the viability and fruitfulness of Tolstoy’s approach to Christianity.
“Tolstoy had a highly original, almost paradoxical view of Christianity,” said Predrag Cicovacki, professor of philosophy at Holy Cross and the conference co-organizer. “He defended the moralizing mission of Christianity, while also maintaining the innocence of nature. Instead of blaming our ‘fallen’ nature for our sins, Tolstoy put the blame squarely on social institutions, such as State and Church.”
The conference will open with a talk by celebrated Russian novelist Mikhail Shishkin, author of “One Night Befalls Us All” (Vagrius, 1993), “The Taking of Izmail” (Inapress, 1999), “Maidenhair” (Vagrius, 2005) and “The Light and the Dark” (AST: Astrel, 2010). He also authored “Montreux-Missolunghi-Astapovo, in the Steps of Byron and Tolstoy,” an essay collection in German (Rotpunktverlag, 2002).
In concert with the conference, a performance of the Kreutzer Sonata by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio in A Minor will take place Friday, April 21 at 8 p.m. in Brooks Concert Hall. Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata is said to have inspired Tolstoy to write his most controversial piece, the novella “The Kreutzer Sonata.” The performance will feature Victor Santiago Asuncion, piano; Markus Placci, violin; and Jan Müller-Szeraws, cello. The concert is free and open to the public.
Other presenters will include:
The conference is organized by Cicovacki and Olga Partan, assistant professor of Russian at Holy Cross. It is sponsored by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture and supported by the Rehm Family Fund.
Learn more about the event on the conference website.
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