Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man's emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.

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Original Citation

Tolstoy, Leo. What is Art? London: The Brotherhood Publishing Company, 1898.

Current Citation

Tolstoy, Leo. What Is Art? Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Penguin Classics, 1996.