Tolstoy vs Rilke
Towards the end of Resurrection Tolstoy writes, in passing, of the suicide of a poet and revolutionary leader. He was a dreamer, an honest man, says Tolstoy, and so his imagination could not cope in solitary confinement. This contrasts with the opinion of Rilke, the poet, who wrote that a true poet would not mind confinement because he would have his imagination to occupy him. Rilke must surely be right. Perhaps he overstated, but in essence. Tolstoy’s talent for psychological understanding here partially fails, it seems, surprisingly. Perhaps examples supported his point of view. Tolstoy had a grand imagination, and will have drawn on this extent of self-understanding. An interesting disagreement between these two big names, anyway. Whether Rilke meant his comment to cover solitary confinement I am not sure.