What Shall We Do?, Leo Tolstoy
What Shall We Do?
Leo Tolstoy
12:33 h Novels Lvl 8.06
What Shall We Do?, sometimes translated as What Then Must We Do? (Russian: Так что же нам делать?), is a non-fiction work by Leo Tolstoy in which he describes the social conditions of Russia in his day. "After having passed the greater part of my life in the country, I came at length, in the year 1881, to reside in Moscow, where I was immediately struck with the extreme state of pauperism in that city. Though well acquainted with the privations of the poor in rural districts, I had not the faintest conception of their actual condition in towns. In Moscow it is impossible to pass a street without meeting beggars of a peculiar kind, quite unlike those in the country, who go about there, as the saying is, “with a bag and the name of Christ.”

What Shall We Do?

Leo Tolstoy

What Shall We Do?


The Free Age Press is an earnest effort to spread those deep convictions in which the noblest spirits of every age and race have believed — that man’s true aim and happiness is “unity in reason and love”; the realisation of the brotherhood of all men: that we must all strive to eradicate, each from himself, those false ideas, false feelings, and false desires — personal, social, religious, economic — which alienate us one from another and produce nine-tenths of all human suffering.

Of these truly Christian and universally religious aspirations the writings of Leo Tolstoy are to-day perhaps the most definite expression, and it is to the production of very cheap editions of his extant religious, social and ethical works, together with much unpublished matter and his new writings, to which we have special access (being in close touch with Tolstoy), that we are at present confining ourselves. We earnestly trust that all who sympathise will continue to assist us by every means in their power, and help to make the publications yet more widely known. It is Tolstoy’s desire that his books shall not be copyrighted, and as we share this view, all Free Age Press translations and editions (with one, as yet unavoidable exception), are and will be issued free of copyright and may be reprinted by anyone. We have already commenced to collect all Tolstoy’s essays into more permanent cloth-bound volumes.

Suggestions, inquiries, offers of help and co-operation will be gratefully welcomed. For the hundreds of sympathetic letters and the practical help in making known and circulating the books which we have received already, we are very grateful, and tender our hearty thanks.

Orders and commercial communications should be addressed to “The Free Age PressEnglish Branch,13, Paternoster Row, London, E.C. All other communications to the “Editor of the Free Age Press,” Christchurch, Hants.

Vladimir Tchertkoff, Editor.

Thomas Laurie, Publisher.


“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

“He answereth and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” (Luke iii. 10, 11.)

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

“The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

“But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is your darkness?

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