Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tolstoy on being a doer of the word

I put this up for the next person looking to track it to source.  Christian doesn't hesitate over the date (1847):

"It is easier to write ten volumes of philosophy than to put a single precept into practice."

Leo Tolstoy, Diary entry dated 17 March 1846 or 1847, trans. C. J. Hogarth & A. Sirnis.  The diaries of Leo Tolstoy:  youth, 1847-1852, trans. C. J. Hogarth & A. Sirnis (London:  J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.; New York:  E.P. Dutton & Co.; Paris:  J. M. Dent & Fils, 1917), 2.

"It's easier to write ten volumes of philosophy than to put one single principle into practice."

Leo Tolstoy, Diary entry dated 17 March 1847, trans. R. F. Christian.  Tolstoy's diaries, Volume I, 1847-1894, ed. & trans. R. F. Christian (London:  The Athlone Press, 1985), 4.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A library is an act of faith

Une bibliothèque est un acte de foi
Des générations ténébreuses encore
Qui rendent dans la nuit témoignage à l'aurore.

Victor Hugo, "À qui la faute?", L'année terrible, juin [1871] VIII ((Paris:  Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1880 [1872]), 234 (234-236)).  I was put onto this by Edmund de Waal, The hare with amber eyes:  a family's century of art and loss (New York, NY:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), 193.  "À qui la faute?" has been rendered into English as "The crime."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

On the one hand, on the other II

"[Epiphanius] also said, 'The acquisition of Christian books is necessary for those who can use them.  For the mere sight of these books renders us less inclined to sin, and incites us to believe more firmly in righteousness.'"

"Abba Theodore of Pherme had acquired three good books.  He came to Abba Macarius and said to him, 'I have three excellent books from which I derive profit; the brethren also make use of them and derive profit from them.  Tell me what I ought to do:  keep them for my use and that of the brethren, or sell them and give the money to the poor?'  The old man answered him in this way, 'Your actions are good; but it is best of all to possess nothing.'  Hearing that, he went and sold his books and gave the money for them to the poor."

"A brother said to Abba Serapion, 'Give me a word.'  The old man said to him, 'What shall I say to you?  You have taken the living of widows and orphans and put it on your shelves.'  For he saw them full of books."

The desert Christian: sayings of the desert fathers: the alphabetical collection, trans. Benedicta Ward (New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1980 [1975]), 58 (lacking in the systematic collection), 73 (VI.7 =SC 387, p. 318), 227 (VI.16 =SC 387, p. 324).

Fool me twice

"The same old man helped some thieves when they were stealing.  When they had taken away what was inside his cell, Abba Euprepius saw that they had left his stick and he was sorry.  So he took it and ran after them to give it to them.  But the thieves did not want to take it, fearing that something would happen to them if they did.  So he asked someone he met who was going the same way to give the stick to them."

"Abba Daniel said that when Abba Arsenius was at Scetis, there was a monk there who used to steal the possessions of the old men.  Abba Arsenius took him into his cell in order to convert him and to give the old men some peace.  He said to him, 'Everything you want I will get for you, only do not steal.'  So he gave him gold, coins, clothes and everything he needed.  But the brother began to steal again.  So the old men, seeing that he had not stopped, drove him away saying, 'If there is a brother who commits a sin through weakness, one must bear it, but if he steals, drive him away, for it is hurtful to his soul and troubles all those who live in the neighborhood.'"

     The desert Christian: sayings of the desert fathers:  the alphabetical collection, trans. Benedicta Ward (New York, NY:  Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1980 [1975]), 62 (lacking in the systematic collection), 52 (X.23 =SC 474, p. 28).