Berlin: Heinrich Caspari Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1906? Octavo (19.5 × 13.5 cm). Original printed wrappers; , 6-55 pp. Publisher's ads inside wrappers. Light tears to overlapping wrapper edges; text lightly toned; wrappers beginning to detach along spine head; still a sound, uncut and unopened copy. Item #2473
First edition thus. An émigré publication of a selection of Leo Tolstoy’s religious essays, all of which were banned in the Russian Empire. After the great success of his “Anna Karenina” (1878), Tolstoy began to focus on religious writings, producing such works as “My Confession” (1879–1880), which led to his open conflict with the Orthodox Church. The conflict, fueled by his other writings, would eventually lead to his full excommunication in 1901. Among Tolstoy’s many complaints against the church was its approval of the sovereign state, which inflicted violence and waged war, actions he believed incongruous with the teachings of the church and of Christ. Other works included in the collection are: “O tserkovnom obmane” (On Church Lies), Kak chitat’ Evangelie i v chem ego sushchnost” (How to read the Gospels and what is their essence), “O religioznom vospitanii” (On religious education), “O veroterpimosti” (On religious tolerance).
The title essay of this collection seems to have been written in 1882, and was never finished, nor was it approved by the author for publication. Tolstoy sent the unfinished (and untitled) essay to his friend, Gavrila Rusanov, who seems to have titled it and released it into underground circulation. The essay first appeared in Berlin, at the Cassirer and Danziger publishing house in 1891 with distortions and omissions. This edition was included in the internal catalog of the General Directorate for Press Affairs (the highest censorship body in the Russian Empire) for 1894 as “prohibited from circulation and re-printing in Russia.” The essay was next published in the “Complete Works of L. N. Tolstoy, Banned in Russia”, by the "Free speech" publishing house, in England (1904). In Russia, the essay would appear only after the 1905 Revolution when the censorship laws were slackened by the “Renewal” publishing house (St. Petersburg, 1906, No. 8). This edition contains a publisher’s catalog to inside of front and rear wrapper. KVK, OCLC show print copies of this edition at Harvard, Duke, Princeton, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, UCLA, Berkeley, UCL, UNSW (Sydney), and Melbourne.