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Author: Leo Tolstoy,Almyer Maude,Vincent Tomas
ISBN13: 978-0023774003
Title: What Is Art (Library of Liberal Arts)
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Language: English
Category: History and Criticism
Publisher: Pearson College Div (June 1, 1960)
Pages: 213

What Is Art (Library of Liberal Arts) by Leo Tolstoy,Almyer Maude,Vincent Tomas

Published 1960 by Bobbs-Merrill in Indianapolis. The Library of liberal arts no. 51. Classifications.

What is art? found in the catalog.

More than ninety years later this work remains, as Vincent Tomas observed, one of the most rigorous attacks on formalism and on the doctrine of art for art's sake ever written. More than ninety years later this work remains, as Vincent Tomas observed, one of the most rigorous attacks on formalism and on the doctrine of art for art's sake ever written.

The oldest book in the library was published in 1613 in Köln with the parallel texts in Greek.

In his younger years, Leo Tolstoy read and tried to follow Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues, a list of good traits to practice every day. It struck a chord with Tolstoy, who struggled with carnal desires. Like Franklin, Tolstoy kept a daily journal of activities, but unlike Franklin, who kept notes about the virtues he practiced, Tolstoy wrote down his shortcomings. Tolstoy endowed his fictional characters with a love of Franklin’s works. Levin in Anna Karenina said: I'm sure Benjamin Franklin felt just as worthless and had the same distrust of himself as I when he summed himself up. Henry George’s follower. He translated and published Henry Thoreau’s essay, Civil Disobedience, which resonated with Tolstoy’s thoughts on resistance against an unjust state.

What Is Art? Leo Tolstoy Translation by Aylmer Maude Introduction by Vincent Tomas. More than ninety years later this work remains, as Vincent Tomas observed, one of the most rigorous attacks on formalism and on the doctrine of art for art’s sake ever written.

Tolstoy presents a detailed sampling of what philosophers and aestheticians have written about art and beauty throughout history, particularly since the eighteenth century, when aesthetics became a subject unto itself. The theories range from art being an expression of divine truth to art being a titillation of the senses of seeing, hearing, feeling and even tasting and smelling.

by Tolstoy, Leo, graf, 1828-1910; Maude, Aylmer, 1858-1938. Publication date 1904. Topics Arts - Philosophy, Arts and morals. Publisher New York : Funk & Wagnalls. Collection trinitycollege; toronto. Digitizing sponsor MSN. Contributor Trinity College - University of Toronto. Call number AFF-6209. John W. Graham Library, Trinity College. Uploaded on September 7, 2006. SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata).

Like all great writers, Leo Tolstoy has inspired a great many visual adaptations of his work, of varying degrees of quality. Just this past month, the Volgograd Fine Arts Museum in Russia held an exhibition of 92 graphic works from the collection of the Yasnaya Polyana Estate-Museum, the author’s country estate and birthplace. Directly above, see a sketch for his ABC book, a primer he created for his peasant schools at Yasnaya Polyana. Tolstoy didn’t only illustrate his own work; he also made some sketches of his contemporary Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days-see one above-which he read in French with his children. Over forty years after making these drawings, Tolstoy published his thoughts on art in essay called What is Art?.

Like all great works of art, Tolstoy's masterpiece has the capacity, on each successive reading, to transform our understanding of the world. On any first reading, War and Peace is bound to dazzle with its immense panorama of humanity. The whole of life appears to be contained in its pages. Tolstoy presents us with a cast of several hundred characters. Like all great works of art, it certainly defies all conventions. Set against the historical events of the Napoleonic Wars, its complex narrative development is a long way from the tidy plot structure of the European novel in its nineteenth-century form. Tolstoy's novel does not even have a clear beginning, middle and end, though it does, in one sense, turn on a moment of epiphany, the year of 1812, when Russia's liberation from Napoleon is made to coincide with the personal liberation of the novel's central characters.

During his decades of world fame as a novelist, Tolstoy also wrote prolifically in a series of essays and polemics on issues of morality, social justice and religion. These works culminated in What is Art?, published in 1898. Impassioned and iconoclastic, this powerfully influential work both criticizes the elitist nature of art in nineteenth-century Western society, and rejects the idea that its sole purpose should be the creation of beauty. The works of Dante, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Baudelaire and Wagner are all vigorously condemned, as Tolstoy explores what he believes to be the spiritual role of the artist - arguing that true art must work with religion and science as a force for the advancement of mankind.
Reviews: 7
Bottom Line: Tolstoy's "What is Art" contains an earlier draft and a final extended essay by the author of several of the world's greatest novels. He grapples with the question of what he thinks should be considered as art. Art he believes should not merely be pretty or entertaining. Art must be the original, inspired product of a naturally superior, creative person. It must clearly express the unique emotional message of a person who has experienced a spontaneous, and unique creative moment. This expression must be so created as to be immediately understandable by any person, without that person needing any training to appreciate the artistry behind the expression. In all cases, Art to be art must further the religious beliefs common to the time and place where the artist is inspired. Despite the masterful language and forceful passion of this literary master, I am not convinced by his argument.

As a reading experience, this book is very successful as a display of powerful writing. Tolstoy bears his heart and his point of view. I do not find his argument consistent or consistently convincing. This is great writing, but intended for a limited audience. It not intended as a pleasurable reading. Your experience of this book will vary depending on your need to be in agreement with an author and your ability to appreciate writing even if the conclusions proposed are ones with which you cannot fully agree.

Much of what Tolstoy writes reads like a garrulous old man complaining about "modern art". Once you realize that he is complaining about the likes of Beethoven, Richard Wagner, all of ballet, every art school and almost every novelist, you begin to realize that every generational change in art has produced the same arguments against trends then occurring in art. Further, Tolstoy is in favor of a communist, religious world such that no one has the chance to live in comfort. Everyone must be directly engaged in the daily struggle to survive and art cannot come from anyone who is not living a life of such struggle. In passing note that Tolstoy had lived the life of a rich, titled, dissipated Russian noble, before promoting a mystic Christian communism.

He has a number of unbending absolutes. Art cannot be created in more than one media. Opera is a combination of poetry and music and therefore cannot be art. Any training in the craftsmanship needed to produce art is destructive of art because it promotes imitation. Imitation is always the opposite of art. All art must be a unique expression.

When Tolstoy speaks to the absolute necessity of art to further religion he is not as absolute. He accepts that religious beliefs change over time and culture. Therefore the artist cannot be expected to be ahead of these changes. But many religions, including modern Christian beliefs are corrupted and depend on imitative and false art. Further, to be art, people from all cultures have to be able to appreciate the intended message of the artist.

Rather than a point for point discussion of all that Tolstoy has written I shall summarize with a few points.
I had bought this book hoping to get ideas about how to better appreciate the work of, in particular the work of a great writer. This book was not written to my purposes. I find enough with which to agree that I cannot dismiss all of what the great man has written. The art to which Tolstoy would have us limit our attention would be simplistic, short, and often maudlin and only from the so called primitive crafts of untrained artisans. There is no respect for the large scale, complex or ambitious person with an inspiration beyond making some simple country dance or fireside story. Many will cheer the end of all forms of artistic pretense or snobbery. Ultimately I think his vision is for a narrow and repetitive world of religiously dominated and controlled, false art.
I'm surprised that nobody (so far) has commented on the physical aspects of this book, Because the original is so old - written in 1899 after sixteen years of thought-it is now a rare book This then, is printed using a patented Print on Demand technology. It is printed using a robot that turns and photographs each page. Since the book has been re-typeset, page numbers change and there is no index or table of contents. Also, there are a number of typos. However, none of this really matters as far as the actual content of the thought is concerned and the typos are not too distracting.
"What Is Art"is an interesting read with many aspects applicable to today. For example, in discussing the definition of "beauty", Tolstoy observes, "As is always the case, the more cloudy and confused the conception conveyed by a word, with the more aplomb and self-assurance do people use that word, pretending what is understood by it is so simple and clear that it is not worth while even to discuss what it actually means." Along with gems of insights, Tolstoy betrays his own prejudices as he is against nudity ("female nakedness"), even referring to a ballet as a "lewd performance". He dislikes Wagner, all of Beethoven's later works and the whole Impressionist movement - which, of course, was new back then. However, he is also against realism, "When we appraise a work according to its realism, we only show that we are talking, not of a work of art, but of its counterfeit". He also dislikes art schools- but not art education in public schools-, critics, art about art, and the idea of grants to artists. He believed that artists should earn their living in the real world, so as not to lose a connection to regular life. For this, he conveniently overlooks the fact that his inheritance of vast tracts of land worked by peasants enabled him to pursue his own career. He has great hopes for the role of art creating brotherhood among man. "Art should cause violence to be set aside".Tolstoy's main point is that art is real art if the artist was sincere in his feelings about the subject and that viewers were then "infected" with the feeling. "The chief peculiarity of this feeling is that the receiver of a true artistic impression is so united to the artist that he feels as if the work were his own and not some one elses- as if what it expresses were just what he had been longing to express". This brings us to deeper thinking about just what it is that we are trying to convey in works of art. For any artist who likes to think about conveying feeling, I would also recommend a more modern outlook on this subject- Creative Authenticity by Ian Roberts- 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen your Artistic Vision