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“ To be champion requires more than simply being a strong player; one has to be a strong human being as well. ”

—    Anatoly Karpov

(Source: thecultofgenius)

Leo Tolstoy Creates a List of the 50+ Books That Influenced Him Most (1891)

War and PeaceAnna KareninaThe Death of Ivan Ilyich — many of us have felt the influence, to the good or the ill of our own reading and writing, of Leo Tolstoy. But whose influence did Leo Tolstoy feel the most? As luck would have it, we can give you chapter and verse on this, since the novelist drew up just such a list in 1891, which would have put him at age 63. A Russian publisher had asked 2,000 professors, scholars, artists, and men of letters, public figures, and other luminaries to name the books important to them, and Tolstoy responded with this list divided into five ages of man, with their actual degree of influence (“enormous,” “v. great,” or merely “great”) noted. It comes as something of a rarity, up to now only available transcribed in a post at Northampton, Massachusetts’ Valley Advocate:


Childhood to the age of 14 or so

The story of Joseph from the Bible - Enormous

Tales from The Thousand and One Nights: the 40 Thieves, Prince Qam-al-Zaman - Great

The Little Black Hen by Pogorelsky - V. great

Russian byliny: Dobrynya Nikitich, Ilya Muromets, Alyosha Popovich. Folk Tales - Enormous

Puskin’s poems: Napoleon - Great

Age 14 to 20

Matthew’s Gospel: Sermon on the Mount – Enormous

Sterne’s Sentimental Journey – V. great

Rousseau Confessions - Enormous

Emile - Enormous

Nouvelle Héloise - V. great

Pushkin’s Yevgeny Onegin - V. great

Schiller’s Die Räuber - V. great

Gogol’s Overcoat, The Two Ivans, Nevsky Prospect - Great

“Viy” [a story by Gogol] – Enormous

Dead Souls - V. great

Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Sketches - V. great

Druzhinin’s Polinka Sachs - V. great

Grigorovich’s The Hapless Anton - V. great

Dickens’ David Copperfield - Enormous

Lermontov’s A Hero for our TimeTaman - V. great

Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico - Great

Age 20 to 35

Goethe. Hermann and Dorothea - V. great

Victor Hugo. Notre Dame de Paris - V. great

Tyutchev’s poems – Great

Koltsov’s poems – Great

The Odyssey and The Iliad (read in Russian) – Great

Fet’s poems – Great

Plato’s Phaedo and Symposium (in Cousin’s translation) – Great

Age 35 to 50

The Odyssey and The Iliad (in Greek) – V. great

The byliny - V. great

Victor Hugo. Les Misérables - Enormous

Xenophon’s Anabasis - V. great

Mrs. [Henry] Wood. Novels – Great

George Eliot. Novels – Great

Trollope, Novels – Great

Age 50 to 63

All the Gospels in Greek – Enormous

Book of Genesis (in Hebrew) – V. great

Henry George. Progress and Poverty - V. great

[Theodore] Parker. Discourse on religious subject – Great

[Frederick William] Robertson’s sermons – Great

Feuerbach (I forget the title; work on Christianity) [“The Essence of Christianity”] – Great

Pascal’s Pensées - Enormous

Epictetus – Enormous

Confucius and Mencius – V. great

On the Buddha. Well-known Frenchman (I forget) [“Lalita Vistara”] – Enormous

Lao-Tzu. Julien [S. Julien, French translator] – Enormous

The writer at the Valley Advocate, a Tolstoy aficionado, came across the list by sheer happenstance. “On my way to work, I found something just for me in a box of cast-off books on a sidewalk,” they write: a biography of Tolstoy with “something cooler inside”: a “yellowed and fragile New York Times Book Review clipping” from 1978 containing the full list as Tolstoy wrote it. “Gold,” in other words, “for this wannabe Tolstoy scholar.” If you, too count yourself among the ranks of wannabe Tolstoy scholars — or indeed credentialed Tolstoy scholars — you’ll no doubt find more than a few intriguing selections here. And if you simply admire Tolstoy, well, get to reading: learn not how to make the same things your idols made, I often say, but to think how they thought. Not that any of us have time to write War and Peace these days anyway, though with luck, we do still have time to read it — along with The Thousand and One Nights, David Copperfield, The Odyssey, and so on. Many of these works you can find in our collection, 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

via Open Culture

A Waxwork of the ‘Real’ Jane Austen Is Unveiled in Bath


A waxwork of Jane Austen which has taken three years to produce has been unveiled in Bath.

With no “acceptable likeness” of the author, the Jane Austen Centre claims it is the closest “anyone has come to the real Jane Austen for 200 years”.

It has been created using eyewitness accounts, and the help of Emmy award-winning costume designer Andrea Galer and an FBI-trained forensic artist.

The waxwork went on show to the public in Bath earlier.

The only confirmed portrait of Austen made during her lifetime is by her sister, Cassandra.

'Sucking lemons'

Melissa Dring, forensic artist, said she used the small pencil and watercolour sketch as a “starting point” for her pastel portrait, which became the basis for the waxwork.

"[Cassandra’s portrait] does make it look like she’s been sucking lemons," Ms Dring said. "She has a somewhat sour and dour expression.

"But we know from all accounts of her, she was very lively, very great fun to be with and a mischievous and witty person."


Who was Jane Austen?

Jane Austen was an English novelist whose books, set among the English middle and upper classes, are notable for their wit, social observation and insights into the lives of early 19th century women.

Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hampshire. She was one of eight children of a clergyman and grew up in a close-knit family. She began to write as a teenager. In 1801 the family moved to Bath. After the death of Jane’s father in 1805 Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother moved several times eventually settling in Chawton, near Steventon.

Jane’s brother Henry helped her negotiate with a publisher and her first novel, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, appeared in 1811. Her next novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, which she described as her “own darling child” received highly favourable reviews. ‘Mansfield Park’ was published in 1814, then ‘Emma’ in 1816. ‘Emma’ was dedicated to the prince regent, an admirer of her work. All of Jane Austen’s novels were published anonymously.

In 1816, Jane began to suffer from ill-health, probably due to Addison’s disease. She travelled to Winchester to receive treatment, and died there on 18 July 1817. Two more novels, ‘Persuasion’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ were published posthumously and a final novel was left incomplete.



  • Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775
  • One of eight children of a clergyman
  • Sense and Sensibility, her first novel, appeared in 1811
  • Books notable for wit, social observation and insight
  • Died on 18 July 1817 after treatment for Addison’s disease
  • Two novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey published posthumously

via BBC News and BBC History

The Beauty of a Scientific Study

With a focus on the dynamic interplay between science and imagination, the Huntington Library’s “Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World,” exhibition features a collection of written and illustrated work charting the changing role of science over time. There are four main sections—astronomy, natural history, medicine, and light—dividing the collection. To celebrate the exhibition, the Library has digitized a number of the volumes on display, available here


Good morning, I'd like to know if you have published something about Marina Cvetaeva. Thank you :)

Asked by Anonymous

We haven’t yet, but we shall. Best!

Since 2007,  Lee Jee Young shoots the invisible. Whereas traditional photography submits extracts of reality to our eyes, the artist offers excerpts from her heart, her memory, or her dreams. Restrained by the inherent limits of the conventional photographic medium, she adds plastic creativity and theatrical performance to it, in order to blow life into her immense needs of expression, and interrogation.


Marcel Duchamp, Chess Enthusiast, Created an Art Deco Chess Set That’s Now Available via 3D Printer

What would Marcel Duchamp have thought of the age of 3D printing, had he foreseen it? I reckon that the inventor of the “readymade” work of art — i.e., a piece found in the real world and placed into an artistic context, as he famously/infamously did with a urinal for 1917′s Fountain — would endorse it as the logical extension of his own creative principles. But man, especially a man like Duchamp, does not live by recontextualized plumbing alone: he also painted, sculpted, and even carved. This last practice resulted, after some time in Buenos Aires the year after Fountain, in his very own one-of-a-kind Art Deco chess set. But now this unique item has turned readymade, so Boingboing reports via Kottke, as “freely downloadable 3D print-files on Thingiverse, where the community is actively remixing them” into versions “like this one, with self-supporting overhangs.”

Duchamp himself, who appears in the video at the top of the post describing his passion for chess, surely would have enjoyed all this. After his time in Buenos Aires, he moved to Paris, then to America, and, in 1923, back to Paris again, by which time he’d dedicated himself almost fully to the game. Chess has obsessed many of humanity’s finest minds over centuries and centuries, and Duchamp seems to have shown little resistance to its intellectual and aesthetic pull. Still, just as he crossed chess and art when he crafted his Art Deco set (pictured above), he did it again in 1925, when he not only competed in the Third French Chess Championship (earning the title of grand master as a result) but also designed its striking poster below. The New York Times‘ Holland Cotter, reviewing the Francis M. Naumann Fine Arts show “Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess,” writes that Duchamp ultimately found his two passions not just reconcilable but “complementary, an ideal intersection of brainpower and beauty. Chess was art; art was chess. Everything was about making the right moves.”

via Open Culture