Fifth – another book by Leo Tolstoy. One of the greatest in all the languages of the world, War and Peace. Not only the greatest but also the most voluminous…thousands of pages. I don’t know that anybody reads such books except myself. They are so big, so vast, they make you afraid.
But Tolstoy’s book has to be vast, it is not his fault. War and Peace is the whole history of human consciousness – the whole history; it cannot be written on a few pages. Yes, it is difficult to read thousands of pages, but if one can one will be transported to another world. One will know the taste of something classic. Yes, it is a classic.
Sixth. Today it seems I am surrounded by Russians. The sixth is Maxim Gorky’s The Mother. I don’t like Gorky; he is a communist, and I hate communists. When I hate I simply hate, but the book The Mother, even though written by Maxim Gorky, I love it. I have loved it my whole life. I had so many copies of that book that my father used to say, “Are you mad? One copy of a book is enough, and you go on ordering more! Again and again I see a postal package and it is nothing but another copy of The Mother by Maxim Gorky. Are you mad or something?”
I said to him, “Yes, as far as Gorky’s The Mother is concerned, I am mad, utterly mad.”
When I see my own mother I remember Gorky. Gorky must be counted as the suprememost artist of the whole world. Particularly in The Mother he reaches to the highest peak of the art of writing. Nobody before and nobody after…. He is just like a Himalayan peak. The Mother is to be studied, and studied again and again; only then slowly it seeps through you. Then slowly slowly you start feeling it. Yes, that’s the word: feeling it – not thinking, not reading, but feeling. You start touching it, it starts touching you. It becomes alive. Then it is no longer a book, but a person…a person.
The seventh is another Russian, Turgenev, and his book Fathers and Sons. This has been one of my love affairs. I have loved many books, thousands of books, but none like Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. I used to force my poor father to read it. He is dead; otherwise I would have asked him to forgive me. Why did I force him to read the book? That was the only way for him to understand the gap between himself and me. But he was really a wonderful man; he used to read the book again and again just because I said. It wasn’t once he read it, but many times. And not only did he read the book, but at least between him and me the gap was bridged. We were no longer father and son. That ugly relationship of father and son, mother and daughter, and so on…at least with me my father dropped it. We became friends. It is difficult to be friends with your own father, or your own son; the whole credit goes to him, not to me.