The Extraordinary Life of Prince D. A. Khilkov
Using a wide range of often obscure published sources, this book explores Khilkov’s extraordinary life through his autobiographical notes and the accounts of many who knew him, among them Lev Tolstoi and his disciples, the Marxist Vladimir Bonch-Bruevich, fellow members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and the Orthodox clergy who guided him back to the Church.
CHAPTER 4: Discovering Tolstoi
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Tolstoi’s first letter to Khilkov was written in December 1887, following a visit by Nikolai Dzhunkovskii and his wife, Elizaveta Viner. At their meeting Dzhunkovskii read two letters he had received from Dmitrii Aleksandrovich, which, on Tolstoi’s request, he left there. In reading them he felt immensely warmed towards Khilkov, finding in him a kindred spirit. He writes:
I have read your letters over again and once more experienced the same feeling as at the first reading, only with a greater strength: I have known you already for some time, admiring, rejoicing over you, with a selfish joy, sensing a comrade in the work, lightening, hastening my life’s work, but now for the first time I have come to love you truly, simply, i.e. for the first time I am moved towards to you, to your soul and have understood that, in addition to the outward expression of your life, there is still your inner life with all the sufferings (sufferings not in the sense of torments, but in the sense of things endured), which I have endured and which you are enduring. I felt sorry for you, loved you, and I had a desire to be useful, to help you, to make your life easier. Do not think that I wanted to teach you – we have only one teacher – truth, but I wanted to do for you, what I have often wanted and even now and...
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