Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Indignation against summaries

Tolstoy's response, when a publisher asked for the plan of his unfinished novel Resurrection (the passage is given in Victor Shklovsky's The Energy of Delusion, and Skhlovsky comments that Tolstoy reacted to the request from his friend and intermediary to send "a short summary. . . . as if he had been burglarized"):
Your demand to send the first chapters to the publisher for me was unpleasant and, I must confess, offensive. I would have never agreed to this and I'm surprised that you did. And summaries for me are preposterous. . . .

Regarding the summary of the novel, the concept is purely theoretical, because the first part is finished, but the second isn't typed yet, it cannot be considered finished and I may change it, and I would like to have the opportunity to make changes.

Therefore, my indignation against summaries and manuscript readings is not prompted by arrogance, but by a certain awareness of my calling as a writer, which cannot subordinate its spiritual activity of writing to any practical consideration. There is something revolting in this, which offends my very soul.


  1. Quite right! Not an overeaction at al...

  2. I suppose every happy writer is the same; every troubled writer is troubled in his own unique way :)