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The Census in Moscow   By: (1828-1910)

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Leo Tolstoy's "The Census in Moscow" is a remarkable piece of literary genius that exemplifies the author's intricate storytelling skills. Set in 19th century Moscow, this novella explores the complexities of human relationships and the inner struggles faced by individuals in a rapidly changing society.

The narrative unfolds through the lens of the central character, Ivan Ilyich. Known for his impeccable attention to detail, Tolstoy delves deep into Ivan's psyche, exposing his fears, desires, and existential dilemmas. As an aging nobleman, Ilyich finds himself grappling with the weight of his monotonous life, fraught with conformity and societal expectations.

Tolstoy skillfully weaves together multiple storylines, masterfully rendering the interconnectedness of seemingly unrelated characters. Through the lens of a census, the author reminds readers of the vast diversity within society, both in terms of social class and personal aspirations.

One of the most captivating aspects of the novella is Tolstoy's ability to create vivid and multidimensional characters. Each individual comes to life on the page, with their unique quirks, flaws, and desires. From the enigmatic and introspective Ivan Ilyich, to the ambitious artist, Vasilyev, every character adds depth to the narrative, painting a vivid portrait of a society in flux.

Furthermore, Tolstoy's profound exploration of the human condition shines through in his philosophical musings on love, death, and the pursuit of meaning. He poses challenging questions about the nature of happiness and the emptiness that can pervade the human heart. The author's prose is both poetic and thought-provoking, leaving readers contemplating the deeper truths presented within the narrative.

In "The Census in Moscow," Tolstoy's social commentary is evident, as he critiques the constraints of conventional societal norms. He sheds light on the disparities and discontentment that lie beneath the surface of a seemingly harmonious society. Through his sharp observations and keen eye for detail, Tolstoy offers a profound reflection on the human condition that remains relevant today.

The novella's brevity is one of its strengths, allowing Tolstoy to concisely encapsulate a wide range of emotions and themes. Though it may be shorter than some of Tolstoy's other renowned works, "The Census in Moscow" demonstrates the author's ability to deliver a rich and nuanced narrative in a compact form.

In conclusion, Leo Tolstoy's "The Census in Moscow" is a literary gem that showcases the author's mastery of storytelling. Through its compelling characters, philosophical introspection, and social commentary, the novella offers a profound exploration of the human experience. Tolstoy invites readers on a journey of self-reflection, challenging societal norms and highlighting the universal struggles faced by individuals in any era.

First Page:



The object of a census is scientific. A census is a sociological investigation. And the object of the science of sociology is the happiness of the people. This science and its methods differ sharply from all other sciences.

Its peculiarity lies in this, that sociological investigations are not conducted by learned men in their cabinets, observatories and laboratories, but by two thousand people from the community. A second peculiarity is this, that the investigations of other sciences are not conducted on living people, but here living people are the subjects. A third peculiarity is, that the aim of every other science is simply knowledge, while here it is the good of the people. One man may investigate a nebula, but for the investigation of Moscow, two thousand persons are necessary. The object of the study of nebulae is merely that we may know about nebulae; the object of the study of inhabitants is that sociological laws may be deduced, and that, on the foundation of these laws, a better life for the people may be established. It makes no difference to the nebula whether it is studied or not, and it has waited long, and is ready to wait a great while longer; but it is not a matter of indifference to the inhabitants of Moscow, especially to those unfortunates who constitute the most interesting subjects of the science of sociology... Continue reading book >>

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