Resurrection audiobook cover artTitle: Resurrection
Author: Leo Tolstoy
Translator: Louise Maude
Genre: Classic Russian Fiction / Philosophy / Theology
Pages: 398
Rating: 4 of 5

I seldom read modern Christian fiction. With a few exceptions, it tends to be preachy, poorly-researched schlock full of morbid introspection and cheesy romance. I’m not sure where things went wrong, because this Russian classic is most certainly Christian, features quite a bit of morbid introspection, and still managed to wow me. This is one of those books where plot comes in a distant second to the author’s desire to explore and expound philosophical and theological points, but the characters were still sympathetic (or loathsome), and I genuinely wanted to find out what happened to them.

Tolstoy’s tale follows the spiritual journey of a privileged man who realizes that his actions, past and present, have contributed to the downfall of a poor woman: sending her into a down-spiral leading into prostitution and eventual wrongful conviction for murder. We see his inner spiritual struggle over how to rectify the situation as well as the outward struggle of living in a self-centered society that cares nothing for the poor and “criminal class.” To me, Tolstoy’s approach places so much emphasis on doing good that faith (an indispensable part of Christianity) is nearly excluded. However there was much food for thought throughout the book whether I agreed with him or not.

I listened to this as an audiobook read by Simon Vance. His narration was excellent, but I think that I might have preferred reading this myself for the sake of being able to re-read, make notes, etc. when it came to many of the philosophical points.

Overall, even though this had a lot of what I dislike in modern Christian fiction, it worked in the hands of a master like Tolstoy, and I greatly appreciated this book. Also, I am using this for my Classic in Translation category over at the Back to the Classics Challenge.

6 thoughts on “Philosophy Wrapped in Story

  1. Tolstoy was also a master wordsmith. Not sure that can be said for about 90% of those who write in the “Christian Fiction” side of things today, maybe even higher if you’re a cynic…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From a friend (who must remain anonymous but who definitely speaks from personal experience), a historical fiction novel that goes through a Christian publisher may have to be rewritten to include the appropriate amount of sappy romance before they’ll touch it. When it comes to fiction, they seem to be far more interested in what sells (and won’t offend anybody) than in quality or originality. I know that can be an issue with any publisher, but it seems especially bad with the Christian publishing houses. “Jesus gave me this story” becomes a poisoning-the-well argument that heads off any criticism no matter how deserved. In case you can’t tell, this is a pet peeve of mine.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve run into that “Jesus…” thing with a blogger or two. I just cut my losses and ran. There was no point in continuing any discussion, sadly.

        Isn’t Zondervan the biggest christian fiction publisher? Doesn’t surprise me that they try to include romance, as that’ll get the female vote and as you noted, they seem to be after what sells.

        Thank goodness for the Delphi classics 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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