Sunday, 13 September 2015

Q65: Tolstoy Influenced by Doukhobors?

Q65: Did Doukhobors Impact Tolstoy's Theory of Criminal Punishment?

by Dirk Falkner, Germany (referred from Iskra editor, Barry Verigin, USCC)

By Alexei Talimonov
I am a German scholar.

Leo Tolstoy [Lev N. Tolstoy] is one of my most favourite authors and I have ever been strongly interested in his legacy — not only literary, but also philosophical one.

I read many years ago that Tolstoy's views had been strongly influenced by his close friends — the Doukhobor Community in Russia — and started to learn your teachings and was fascinated by its great love to kindness and humanism.

Having successfully accomplished my LL.M studies at the Law School, I am doing now my LL.D degree and chose as topic of my thesis 'Leo Tolstoy's Theory of Criminal Punishment', that was especially strongly impacted by the Doukhobor faith, and thus to acquaint the German scholarly world with Doukhobor community, its tenets and history.

I would like to ask you, whether you could give me some help finding and sending the sources.

I speak both Russian and English very well.

Answer by Koozma

Your question prompted me to create a list of materials online as: Tolstoy and Doukhobors. Also, I am forwarding your request to others who may help you with material not online.

Though Tolstoy acquired his non-violent philosophy by himself, his association with Doukhobors and other peoples of conscience helped refine his beliefs and behaviour. Lev N. Tolstoy's views and that of the Doukhobors were very close. Both believed that violence is incompatible with Love, which they considered to be the fundamental Law of Life. Both saw wars as a crime against humanity; for Tolstoy, war was 'a slavery of our times'. For Doukhobors this belief was manifested in their defining historic act of arms burning in the summer of 1895.


  1. L T studied law and also served as a counsellor. Many of his works address the theme of justice, e.g. Power of Darkness, Kreutzer Sonata, and Resurrection. This is a wonderful and cogent subject for study.

  2. Dear Mr. Tarasoff,

    Thank you very much for this hint.
    I live in Germany, but would very like to come to Canada, to meet you and other Doukhobors and to learn more about your centuries-long struggle for a non-violent and peaceful world.

    Yours sincerely, Dirk Falkner