What do you do if you’re Leo Tolstoy, 20 years old and being treated in isolation for venereal disease? Start a diary, of course. Because you’re Tolstoy, you’ll probably use this diary to make a plan of your day, and then comment on how your actual activities line up with your ideals (“not quite,” usually). And, to be as Tolstoy-ish as possible, why not rate all your actions on a general moral scale? An example: “Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice).” And so on. For some long-term perspective, pair with The Millions‘s perennially popular “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who’s Greater.”
In another excellent essay from LARB’s new site, Morten Høi Jensen takes a close look at the work of Martin Amis to discuss the theme of masculinity, the arc of his oeuvre, the seductiveness of his distinct tone and the dangers of falling for it. For more on Amis, check out our expose of Invasion of the Space Invaders, the near-forgotten first work by Amis in which the young author details the gritty world of arcade gaming.