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    AC Benus
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The Great Mirror of Same-Sex Love - Prose - 22. Leo Tolstoy “I never loved women”

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A Diary Entry

 

November 29th, 1851. Tiflis

I was never in love with women. —There was only one strong feeling like love that I felt when I was 13 or 14; but I don't want to believe that this was love; because the subject of it was a plump maid (though with a very handsome face), and furthermore from 13 to 15 is the most muddled phase for a boy (the youth phase): you don't know what to throw yourself on, and desire in this period, acts with unusual force. —I fell in love very often with guys; the 1st love was the 2 Pushkin brothers, then the 2nd—Saburov, then the 3rd Zybin and Dyakov, the 4th Obolensky, Blosfeld, Islavin, then Gauthier and many others. —Of all of these people, I continue to love only Dyakov. For me the main symptom of love is a fear of offending or pleasing [the belovèd]; simply fear. —I was falling in love with men before I had a concept of gayness; but even after learning about it, the notion of taking these relationships to a physical level never entered my head. —Gauthier is a curious example of a liking that can't be explained by anything. —Not having any kind of relations with him at all except for buying books, I was thrown into a fever when he entered the room. —My love for Islavin ruined 8 whole months of my life in Petersburg. —Though it was unconscious, I didn't think about anything except pleasing him. —All the people I loved could feel it, and I noticed that it was hard for them to look at me. —Often when I couldn't find the moral prerequisites that reason required in my belovèd, or after some unpleasantness with him, I felt hostility toward them; but this hostility was based on love. —I never felt this kind of love for my brothers. —I was often jealous of them with women. —I understand that the ideal of love is complete sacrifice of oneself to the belovèd. And this is exactly what I felt. —I always loved people who were cool towards me and only respected me. The older I get the more rarely I experience this feeling. —And if I do feel it, it’s not so passionately and for people who love me; i.e. the reverse of the way it was before. Beauty always had much influence on my attractions; take the example of Dyakov; but I never will forget the night we were driving from Pirogov, and I wanted to furrow under the sleigh blanket and kiss him and cry. —There was voluptuousness in this feeling too, but how it got there I can't decide; because, as I said, my imagination never drew suggestive pictures; quite the contrary, I have a pronounced dislike [for displays].

—Leo Tolstoy,[i]

1851

 

 

[translation after Kevin Moss]

 

 

 

 

 


[i] “…a diary entry…” Leo Tolstoy Iz Dnevnika (“From His Diary”) (Moscow 1934), ps. 237-238, quoted and translated by Kevin Moss in Out of the Blue: Russia's Hidden Gay Literature; an Anthology (San Francisco 1997), p. 47

https://archive.org/details/outofbluerussia00moss/page/46/mode/2up

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Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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What an interesting entry to Tolstoy’s diary. How I wish there were corresponding entries from others who were the objects of his affection. 

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1 hour ago, Parker Owens said:

What an interesting entry to Tolstoy’s diary. How I wish there were corresponding entries from others who were the objects of his affection. 

Thanks, Parker. Let me just say, this is not the last of Tolstoy we will be seeing in the Mirror :)

But you are right; perhaps Dyakov -- whom he was still in love with in 1851 -- had wanted to pull up the sleigh blanket and kiss just as much as little Leo did that magical ride

 

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Despite the fact Leo and his wife had thirteen children, I think their marriage was more going through the motions than love. Back in the day, nobility were expected to marry and have children as a family duty. Their relationship became more problematic as time went on. To be fair, Tolstoy had some strange ideas and would have been difficult to live with.

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AC Benus

Posted (edited)

16 hours ago, drpaladin said:

Despite the fact Leo and his wife had thirteen children, I think their marriage was more going through the motions than love. Back in the day, nobility were expected to marry and have children as a family duty. Their relationship became more problematic as time went on. To be fair, Tolstoy had some strange ideas and would have been difficult to live with.

Thanks, drpaladin. I don't know much about Tolstoy, but admire War and Peace, especially the 2015 BBC series filmed in Russia -- it's wonderful. I've seen some pictures of Tolstoy and his wife in their senior years looking miserable together. I'm glad his diary entries recording his private thoughts on love were preserved and printed in Soviet Russia. Even that seems miraculous, but perhaps the writer's icon status and the last shreds of Soviet lip-service concerning sexual freedom mixed at the last moment to preserve an accurate record. I'm glad these things gelled at the right time and continue to paint the complex picture each of us as humans live

Edited by AC Benus
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