71: David Patterson translated Leo Tolstoy’s Confession

What People Do

25-07-2023 • 1 hora 4 min

I read books all the time, but very, very rarely do I read a book more than once.

That was Leo Tolstoy’s Confession. I had seen references to the Russian great’s short work of religion, morality and personal experience.

Basically, Tolstoy hit middle age, wildly successful as an author with a happy family, and he wanted to die by suicide. For years, he struggled, and the short work is the story of his despair, his reasonable questioning, and the way out he found (it wasn’t suicide).

Today, David Patterson is a literature and history professor at the University of Texas, Dallas. And, years ago, he translated the version of Confession that I read. I was delightfully shocked when he agreed to be interviewed about the work. (I reference this conversation in a dream here.)

Here, David talks Tolstoy, religion, and the meaning of life with me.

Want to learn more?

  • David Patterson’s translation is available used and in a newer edition (Barnes & Noble).
  • If you read Tolstoy's Confession and are equally blown away, you can join me in reading other works infused with themes of religion and the meaning of life here.
  • Patterson is currently working on his 41st book. Eighteen Words to Sustain a Life: A Jewish Father's Ethical Will (available wherever fine books are sold, like Barnes & Noble) is David’s living ethical will of advice and thought in the Jewish tradition and by Cascade Books.