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A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World's Sacred Texts [Hardcover]

Leo Tolstoy , Peter Sekirin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 14 1997
This is the first-ever English-language edition of the book Leo Tolstoy considered to be his most important contribution to humanity, the work of his life's last years. Widely read in prerevolutionary Russia, banned and forgotten under Communism; and recently rediscovered to great excitement, A Calendar of Wisdom is a day-by-day guide that illuminates the path of a life worth living with a brightness undimmed by time. Unjustly censored for nearly a century, it deserves to be placed with the few books in our history that will never cease teaching us the essence of what is important in this world.

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From Library Journal

Tolstoy's last major work reflects his desire to proselytize the moral faith and ideals he struggled to put into practice in his later years. Tolstoy believed that reading daily from the world's great literature was imperative for both his own spiritual edification and that of his readers, so he set himself the task of gathering a wide range of wisdom for every day of the year. He translated, abbreviated, and in many cases expressed entirely in his own words these "quotations" from diverse sources such as the New Testament, the Koran, Greek philosophy, Lao-Tzu, Buddhist thought, and the poetry, novels, and essays of both ancient writers and contemporary thinkers. An important book now released in English for the first time.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Sarah Ban Breathnach SIMPLE ABUNDANCE All writers believe that there is one book that they and they alone were born to bring into the world. The great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy believed his was A Calendar of Wisdom. Here is a profound and passionate collaboration between the Great Creator and one of history's consummate artists. That we should be able to reach through the portcullis of the past to share the private observations that inspired Leo Tolstoy to discover the sacred in the ordinary a century after he gleaned them from the world's sacred texts seems to me to be nothing less than miraculous. You'll feel as if a devoted spiritual guide, with a wink in his eye, has secretly helped you circumvent the laws of heaven and earth in order to nourish and sustain you on your own personal journey to wholeness. Savoring each day's passage fills me with gratitude, delight, and often awe. Here is a book to be cherished.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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3.0 out of 5 stars Excessive Christian focus Nov. 6 2010
I was expecting a more all-embracing view and did not realize that Tolstoy was such a fervent Christian. Too much God stuff for me - a lot of it about sin and death.. It is odd and unsettling that Tolstoy chose to paraphrase famous quotes by others. Perhaps in his time, the quotes weren't famous and he could pass them off as his own musings. The ideas of his own moral and intellectual superiority are very evident on these pages. I found the book slightly depressing rather than uplifting. Too much morality, and not enough spirituality.
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By A Customer
Calendar of Wisdom, a compilation of various wise sayings, is not the last book written by Tolstoy as claimed by one reader --Path of Life is. Calendar of Wisdom is a collection of wise sayings that caught Tolstoy's fancy. By the time he was 82 Tolstoy had re-thought the sayings in Calendar of Wisdom from a different point of view. In Path of Life he organized old and new wise sayings, from his own writing and from other philosophers, into an ordered, coherent philosophy of life --hence the title.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book restores the soul.... June 10 2002
I'm at a loss here to adequately describe my feelings concerning this book. I can see why Leo Tolstoy considered it his greatest contribution. It transcends even his great soul, for it is the cumulative soul of mankind. I am awed by this collection of the highest thoughts of mankinds' greatest representatives. There is such a wide cross-cultural range, yet you sense that all these minds, these souls, were connected by the same "golden thread": Lao-Tsu, Buddha, Socrates, Zoroaster, Manu, Pythagoras, Augustine, Mohammed, Mamononides, etc., etc., etc. I was especially struck by extensive quotes from such Americans as Jefferson, Emerson, Thoreau, even Chief Blackhawk of the Sauk. This is no shallow "new age" conglomeration, it was all carefully and lovingly assembled into a single masterful edifice over a century ago.
I can see now that this volume shall never leave my personal library. Indeed, it may never leave my nightstand. After the horrors and abominations of the day, this book never fails to restore the soul.
Unless of course you are an INFJ personality type- in that case this book IS your soul....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual Dietary Supplement March 2 2001
These intellectual and spiritual perspectives organized into bite-sized morsels of wisdom are thematic and tasty. An important part of my daily diet. Ideas and thoughts from diverse thinkers from every epoch of time. A real treat for anyone who believes that to grow we must always try out the ideas of others in our own mind. Think of it as daily mental yoga. A great gift for any age. I am handing them out like Gideon : )
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Master's "Cabbage" Soup For The Soul Dec 4 2000
By A Customer
Can it really be -- something new from Tolstoy? Perhaps a forgotten, 1,200-page canvass of history found propping up a broken bedstead at the great man's dacha? Is the mystic count of Russian literature about to have a go -- à la Louisa May Alcott -- at the late-20th century bestseller lists, thanks to a misplaced manuscript? Not quite. Tolstoy's "new" book, "A Calendar of Wisdom," has gone though the printing presses in Cyrillic several times, but has now been translated into English by Peter Sekirin.
"A Calendar of Wisdom" is a collection of quotations culled from world literature and grouped thematically for each day of the year. It is, in Tolstoy's words, "an accumulation of the cultural heritage of our ancestors, the best thinkers in the world."
This book is, by design, popular reading from a great master; it was made, in his words, "to present for a wide reading audience an easily accessible, everyday circle of reading which will arouse their best thoughts and feelings." And, as a book of daily inspiration, it is probably the best of the lot. Whose life wouldn't be bettered by a daily nibble of Shakespeare, Lao Tsu, Ruskin, the Talmud, the Dhammapada, Socrates, Jefferson and a host of small and tall 18th and 19th century thinkers?
Tolstoy's sentiments are truly affecting, simple but not easy prescriptions for daily living. But keep in mind that it was not enough for the count himself, who died -- barely two years after the publication of the last edition of the calendar -- at a lonely train station as he attempted to flee the bonds of his gentrified life.
In these readings life serves up some measures of grief as well as comfort food. It is in fact, Tolstoy's vision. I think of this calendar as Tolstoy's spiritual Rolodex; a kind of truth one can live and prosper with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply A Masterpiece! June 8 1999
One of my favorites! I have a daily process, which includes morning reading of several great works. It didn't take long for this book to rise to the top. Tolstoy has done a great service to mankind through his collection of great insights and wisdom. Nicely translated by Peter Sekirin, this book is a treasure awaiting discovery! Tolstoy put a tremendous effort into his concept of "A wise thought for every day of the year, from the great philosophers of all times and all people." It took him over fifteen years of searching to compile this final version of which Tolstoy himself would consult daily for the rest of his life. Wisdom from the likes of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Pascal, Jesus, Confucius, Emerson, Kant, Ruskin, Seneca, Socrates, Thoreau and many more. Tolstoy's love and passion for his work shines through as he writes in his introduction..."I hope that the readers of this book may experience the same benevolent and elevating feeling which I have experienced when I was working on it's creation, and which I experience again and again when I reread it every day, working on the enlargement and improvement of the previous edition." I am sure that this book will be one of your all time favorites too!
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