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This book was not intended by the author for publication in its present form. Having worked at it for about two years, and remaining unsatisfied with its form of expression, Tolstoï put the book aside, hoping at some future time to return to it with fresh energy.

But other works took possession of his attention, and not foreseeing the possibility of soon undertaking the definite elaboration of this writing, he, in the following words, gave me permission to publish it in its present form:

Certainly, I regard this writing as unfinished and far from satisfying the demands which I myself should have put forward twenty years ago.

But I now know that I shall not have time to finish it, to bring it to that degree of lucidity

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which I should desire; and yet I think that, even in its present form, there may be found in it something useful to men. Therefore print and publish it as it is; and, God willing, if I become free from other works, and still have the strength, I will return to this writing and will endeavour to make it plainer, clearer and shorter.

“ 20 September, 1897.”

I HAD reached the age of fifty, thinking that that life of man which occupies the time between birth and death, is all his life; and that therefore the end of man is happiness in this mortal life. So I tried to obtain this happiness. But the longer I tried, the more evident it became that this happiness does not, and cannot, exist. The particular happiness I sought I did not gain, whilst such as I did gain, immediately ceased to be happiness.

On the other hand, adversities continually increased, and the certainty of death became more and more evident. And I perceived that after this meaningless and unhappy life, nothing awaited me but suffering, illness, old age and annihilation. I asked myself, Why is this ? No answer was given me; I despaired.

That which some people told me, and of which I had sometimes tried to persuade myself, namely, that a man should desire happiness, not for himself only, but for others, his neighbours, and all men--this did not satisfy me. Firstly, because I could not sincerely desire happiness for others as much as for myself; secondly, and chiefly, because others, exactly like myself, were doomed to unhappiness and death. Therefore all my efforts for others' happiness were useless.

I despaired. Then I thought that my despair might proceed from something peculiar in myself; that others knew for what they lived, and so escaped despair. So I began to observe other people; but they, like myself, did not know for what they lived. Some, in the aimless round of life, tried to hide this ignorance; some assured themselves and others that they believed in the various religions instilled into them in childhood, belief in which religions was impossible, so foolish were they. And of these last, many, it seemed to me, only pretended to believe, while in the bottom of their hearts they did not.

I could no longer follow the round of life, for no external occupation whatever could hide the problem before me.

And I could not again believe the religion taught me in childhood, which of itself fell from me when I reached intellectual manhood.

The more I considered, the more I grew convinced that there was no truth in this religion, but only hypocrisy and venality in the deceivers, and weakness of mind, obstinacy and fear in the deceived.

Apart from the inner contradiction of this teaching,-its paltriness, its cruelty in confessing a God Who punishes men with eternal suffering, *—the principal thing which prevented my belief in it was the knowledge that side by side with the

* All these contradictions, absurdities and cruelties I exposed in detail in my work, The Criticism of Dogmatic Theology, where all the Church dogmas and theses, as taught in our theology, are examined in sequence.

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