On Nonviolence and Literature

by Lawrence Rosenwald

For most of my life, reading literature has given me some of my most intense and purest experiences.  I know from these experiences what Nabokov means when he writes, “ . . . a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm” (316-7); what Kafka means when he writes, “a book must be the axe for the frozen seas within us”; what Emily Dickinson means when she writes, “if I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry” (NA I: 2483). A society that sought to deprive readers of such experiences, that sought to keep writers from creating works in relation to which such experiences might be found, would seem to me cold and impoverished – the frozen seas would remain within us, with no axe to break them up.

More recently, I have also become intensely committed to nonviolence – to nonviolence in relation to national conflict, i.e., to pacifism, but also to nonviolence as a way of life.[1]  I am a modestly obedient citizen in most spheres of public life; in this one, I have become a deliberate and assertive lawbreaker.  For the past sixteen years, when my wife, Cynthia Schwan, and I have paid our federal income tax, we have subtracted from what we owe (though I don’t believe that “owe” is the right word for our relation to the government in this matter) the percentage of the federal budget that goes towards current military expenses, sent the subtracted percentage to progressive organizations or a progressive escrow fund, and informed the IRS of the action that we have taken.  This is, as noted, illegal, and the IRS has accordingly seized the money we have refused to pay, either from our bank accounts or from my salary at the college.  I do this annual act of civil disobedience because, just as I refuse to endorse a world without literature as I might imagine it, so I refuse, with equal intensity, to endorse the violent world I actually inhabit, the world of East Timor and Rwanda and Bosnia and the sanctions on Iraq, and in particular the violent country I inhabit, with its military budget that is by far the largest in the world, greater than the military budget of the twelve next largest military budgets combined.

For most of those sixteen years, I’ve maintained a neat separation between these two passions and the communities in which I’ve explored them, allowing each passion and community to become a refuge from the other.  There are good reasons for having refuges of this sort.  But there’s also something escapist in such a mental economy, in experiencing two passions and not wondering what the relations are between them.  So a couple of years ago, when I was invited to teach a course on nonviolence and American literature, I took that invitation as a challenge;  I felt called by it to begin figuring out what these two parts of myself had to do with each other – or, to speak less personally, what the relations were between aesthetic bliss and nonviolence, as understood by someone who needs them both, who feels that the world needs them both, and who is unwilling to subordinate either to the other.[2]

I read what I could, in the territory where American nonviolence and American literature overlapped, and came upon some curious absences and scantinesses.[3]  The quantity of distinguished literature written by advocates and practitioners of nonviolence was surprisingly small;  of that small body of work, surprisingly little dealt explicitly with nonviolence.[4]  Some did, of course:  John Woolman’s journal, essays by Thoreau and William James and Jane Addams, Dorothy Day’s autobiography, Martin Luther King’s letters, poems by Muriel Rukeyser and Edna St. Vincent Millay and Denise Levertov and Robert Lowell.  But the distinguished works of literature written by practitioners of nonviolence mostly belonged to a restricted range of literary genres; and the favored genres all turned out to be lyric genres, i.e., genres in which the writer speaks directly in the first person. These include poems, personal essays and treatises, letters, autobiographies, and journals; a wide range including much that we don’t ordinarily think of as belonging to literature at all, and excludes drama and imaginative fiction.  Why?

We tease out the meanings of generalizations by considering apparent exceptions to them.  Consider Jessamyn West’s The Friendly Persuasion, a series of sketches about the experiences of a 19th-century Quaker family named Birdwell.   A work of imaginative fiction by a committed and knowledgeable Quaker; but it hardly deals with nonviolence at all. Only one sketch out of fourteen deals with the tension between Quaker pacifism and American militarism, and its dealings with that tension are evasive.  The Birdwells’ eldest son Josh resolves to join the militia, to help fight off Morgan’s Confederate Raiders.  His parents test him in thoughtful debate, but he maintains his position and resolution.  He rides off,  joins up, is stationed on a cliff overlooking a river, falls asleep, is wakened by the noise of what he thinks is a battle but in fact is a farmer crossing the river with his sheep, tumbles off the cliff onto the riverbank, and concludes, before fainting, “this is war.  It’s falling over a cliff, cracking thy skull and puking”(88).  His younger brother Labe finds him and brings him back home.  Of what might have happened had Josh actually killed someone, or gone on to fight throughout the Civil War, of the sustained tension between a war against slavery and a religion opposed both to slavery and to war, of what quarrels over the War might have taken place between the Birdwells and their non-Quaker Union neighbors, of all that we know from Peter Brock’s exemplary histories of American pacifism, West tells us nothing.[5]  She is, of course, not bound by her Quakerism to write fiction about Quaker nonviolence; the fact that she doesn’t, though, suggests something about the difficulty of bringing that form and that subject together.

The case of Dorothy Day does too, and more significantly, because Day was so great a heroine of nonviolence, co-founder with Peter Maurin of both the Catholic Worker houses of hospitality and the newspaper of the same name. She wrote a novel called The Eleventh Virgin.  It was published in 1924, when she was twenty-seven, and is a transparently fictionalized version of her own early life.  It’s an unremarkable novel, but Day in her later life had a remarkable reaction to it.  “There was a time,” she told the psychiatrist Robert Coles, “that I thought I had a lifetime job cut out for me – to track down every copy of that novel and destroy them all, one by one . . . .I used to lie in bed thinking about the book in all the libraries, and once I even tried to find out how many libraries there are in the country.”(37)

Why such anguish? Perhaps, as some people argue, because the novel tells of its protagonist’s abortion.  Day was in fact ashamed of that action.  But destroying the novel would have done her no good in her own conscience, or in the sight of God.  Nor did she advance this explanation in her strikingly frank conversations with Coles.  Her autobiographical writings, moreover, though they do not discuss the abortion, are quite candid about other youthful behavior she later repented, including her common-law marriage;  as Coles says, “whatever the reader would find additionally interesting in The Eleventh Virgin is more than hinted at in The Long Loneliness”(63).   All of which suggests that what’s leading Day to feel such self-absorbed animosity might have to do not only with particular episodes of the novel she wrote but also with a certain unease about its being a novel in the first place.  And The Eleventh Virgin is her only novel; after her conversion, she wrote no imaginative literature.

Day’s example makes clear that a great practitioner of nonviolence can write a novel.  But not, in Day’s case at any rate, at the moment when the nonviolence is actually being lived.  When the saint looks back on her artistic past, she condemns it.

That, in a much bigger and more complex way, is the lesson of the towering and inevitable counter-example in this area, so towering that even an Americanist has to take it into consideration, namely, the life and work of Tolstoy.  Tolstoy turned to radical Christianity, in particular to Christian nonviolence and to the doctrine of “resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39), around 1878, just after finishing Anna Karenina.  He was then 50.  He wrote some distinguished fiction after that year:  “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” “Father Sergius,” “Master and Man,” “The Kreutzer Sonata,” the novel Resurrection, “Hadji Murat.”   His example makes clear that it’s possible to be committed to nonviolence and to write distinguished fiction at the same time.

But it also makes clear that the tension between imaginative fiction and radical nonviolence is real.  For one thing – a surprising thing, given how often the later work is characterized as didactic – little in that work deals explicitly with questions of nonviolence.  In life, Tolstoy read and cited such American pacifists as William Lloyd Garrison and Adin Ballou, wrote to and about young men resisting military service in Russia and elsewhere, did much on behalf of the pacifist Dukhobors.  In his work, however, though there are saintly characters in abundance, their saintliness is mostly manifested as abnegation; he gives us no one who tries to put the saintliness of nonviolence into political action – no one like Day, or like Tolstoy himself.  The advocate of nonviolence can make art, but it is not art about nonviolence.

Nor is it unhampered art.  Nothing in the later fiction matches the aesthetic intensity of War and Peace or Anna Karenina.  And there isn’t that much fiction in the first place, given that Tolstoy turned to nonviolence in 1878 and died in 1910.  Fiction became for him, as A. N. Wilson says, “a distraction from the grand business of autobiography”(305). He tried during that period to revive his novel about the Decembrists, and failed.  What he succeeded in writing was diaries, letters, and the autobiographical work A Confession, the Critique of Dogmatic Theology, What I Believe.

Turgenev, who visited him in 1878, saw clearly what was happening; afterwards, he wrote to say, “I trust that your intellectual malady . . . has passed” (Wilson 298).  Later, on his deathbed, Turgenev sent Tolstoy a letter urging him back to literature.  “My friend,” he wrote, “return to literary activity!  That gift came to you whence comes all the rest.” (Wilson 336).  Tolstoy knew what was happening too. That is what he meant by saying that when he was working on “Hadji Murat,” the last of his great stories, he was working “on the sly from himself” (Penguin Master and Man 12). It’s what he meant when in What is Art? he condemned his earlier work as bad art, exalting Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin over Hamlet and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and in a different way what he meant when in “On Shakespeare and the Drama” he wrote that “the undisputed fame Shakespeare enjoys as a great genius . . . is a great evil, as every falsehood is” (Simmons 689).

The three exceptions refine but prove the rule: there’s a tension between nonviolence and literature, especially imaginative literature.  What’s it about?

One thing it’s about, as I myself came to see by way of thinking about some passages in the journal of John Woolman, is the relation between luxuries and necessities.  Woolman was an 18th-century Quaker and anti-slavery activist.  Charles Lamb wrote of the journal, “the only American book I ever read twice was the Journal of Woolman . . . whose character is one of the finest I ever met with . . . Get the writing of John Woolman by heart.”  Lamb’s not the only person to feel that way; the journal breathes an unpretentious, profound saintliness.  And the writing is wonderful, wonderful especially in its exact attention to the workings of Woolman’s mind – which fact gives Woolman authority here, since whatever ideas he has that might bear against literary writing are the ideas of a great writer.

Woolman’s moral art is to examine his conduct to see, as he puts it in “A Plea for the Poor,” “whether the seeds of war have any nourishment in these our possessions, or not” (255).  A remarkable passage in the journal examines that question in relation to dyed cloth.  Woolman had felt unease about wearing such cloth, and tried to find out its source in his inward mind.  He has, contrary to what we might expect, no aesthetic objection to such cloth;  he does not prefer what’s drab for drabness’ sake.   His objection is an economic one.  He begins by thinking about the curse of labor, “that oppression which is imposed on many in the world” (118).  What, asks Woolman, might do away with that oppression?  His answer is, a restriction of labor to what is necessary; for, he writes, “we cannot go into superfluities . . . without having connection with some degree of oppression and with that spirit which leads to self-exaltation and strife” (120).  To make or wear dyed cloth, he concludes, is precisely to “go into superfluities,” and thus to contribute to “the unquiet spirit in which wars are generally carried on” (120).

There’s something so obsessive about the connection Woolman makes, so inquisitorially exact – though maybe less so in the context of the present anti-sweatshop movement – that before suggesting what this has to do with literature I should note that we find a similar connection in Plato.  It’s early in the Republic, where Socrates has just finished a first draft of the just state:  a very simple state, self-sufficient and pious and at peace, but plain.  His friend Glaucon sneeringly objects to the cuisine, saying, “if you were founding a city of pigs, Socrates, what else would you fatten them on?” (42) Socrates acquiesces, but grudgingly:  “I understand.  We should examine not only the birth of a city, but of a luxurious city” (42).  And shortly afterwards, he points out to a now cheerfully consenting Glaucon that such a city will need to annex a portion of its neighbors’ land, and that “[the] next step is war” (43).

What all this has to do with literature is that maybe, in Woolman’s terms, literature is like dyed cloth:  a superfluity, something that “serves chiefly to please the natural inclinations of our minds” (119). (“Natural” here means “unredeemed by grace.”)  That’s a tenable claim.  Literature as we know it in the west is arguably a luxury.  It’s certainly not a necessity; plenty of cultures manage just fine without anything like what we call “literature.”   Works of western literature often have the exquisite complexity, the density, the high finish, the limited but intense appeal, the long life that we associate with luxuries.  Both diamonds and great poems, that is, are forever.  Moreover, literature as we know it entails an industry.  It resides not simply in writers and works and readers, but also in publishing houses and printing presses, editors and publicists and agents, illustrators and warehouses, reviewers and critics and historians, advertising campaigns and bookstore chains and amazon.com.  And though that industry doesn’t contribute as directly to “the unquiet spirit in which wars are generally carried on” as do, say, industries that make armaments or sweatshop clothing, in Woolman’s terms it might seem equally a superfluity, and thus equally contributory to our unquiet spirit.

A second economic critique of literature is suggested for me by a haunting passage of Dorothy Day’s The Long Loneliness, the autobiography she published in 1952, at the age of 55.  I met Day once, at the Catholic Worker House in New York, and though all I retain of that meeting is the image of her face (overlaid, no doubt, by all the photographs of her I’ve seen subsequently), I’ll be grateful to the friend who introduced me for the rest of my life; Day was a great, unpretentious, and saintly woman, and it was an honor to be in her presence.  Jewish tradition tells us that the world depends for its continuance on there being, at any given time, thirty-six just persons in it.  I have no doubt that Day was one of them.

The passage in question deals explicitly not with nonviolence but with voluntary poverty: “How close are you to the worker?  Pitirim Sorokin asked me when I was talking with him at Harvard.  He himself was the son of a peasant woman and a migrant worker and was imprisoned three times under the Czars and three times under the Soviets . . . He had a right to ask such a question and it was a pertinent one. Going around and seeing such sights is not enough.  To help the organizers, to give what you have for relief, to pledge yourself to voluntary poverty for life so that you can share with your brothers is not enough.  One must live with them, share with them their suffering too.  Give up one’s privacy, and mental and spiritual comforts as well as physical.” (214)

I’m haunted by this passage because, whenever I read it, it evokes for me Virginia Woolf’s great remark, that to write – to write for real, that is, to be a writer as Woolf was a writer – one must have “a room of one’s own and 500 pounds a year.” These are precisely the two things Day refuses to allow us. First, the 500 pounds.  “To pledge yourself to voluntary poverty for life so that you can share with your brothers is not enough,” she writes, but it’s surely a step towards what is enough, it’s necessary if not sufficient, and it entails having a lot less to live on than 500 pounds a year. And then, second and more devastatingly, the room of one’s own.  Day says this explicitly:  one must “give up one’s privacy,” i.e., the room that is one’s own, where one writes.  If Woolf is correct about what a writer needs, and Day is correct about what is “enough,” then the person who does enough cannot be a writer.  Day herself loved to read and write, and filled her autobiography and her conversations with apt and eclectic literary references.  But her principles here are like granite.

Both these critiques are answerable, or at least qualifiable.  I’d qualify Woolman’s by questioning its crucial terms, i.e., “necessary” and “superfluous.” Woolman seems to take “necessary” as meaning “required to sustain physical life,” and “superfluous” as meaning everything else.  Those are disputable definitions. Literature as we know it at the moment is, as noted, a peculiar industry; literature in another sense, as the telling of stories and the creating and enacting of dramatic ritual, is common to all cultures and arguably a necessity.  I’m reminded of a celebrated passage in Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery:  “one of the saddest things I saw during the month of travel which I have described,” Washington writes, “was a young man, who had attended some high school, sitting down in a one-room cabin, with grease on his clothing, filth all around him, and weeds in the yard and garden, engaged in studying French grammar” (94).  The sight is sad if one thinks, as Washington does and Woolman might have, that the young man is attending to superfluities rather than necessities.  From another viewpoint, W. E. B. Dubois’s viewpoint and my own, where necessities are multiple, it might be inspiring; we imagine a young man turning, self-denyingly, from the necessity of cultivating one’s garden to the necessity of cultivating one’s mind.  In that other viewpoint, the distinction between necessary and luxurious would still matter; but there’d be room to argue about where to draw the line.

Qualifying Day’s critique means not challenging its terms but brooding over its meaning.  “Going around and seeing such sights is not enough . . . voluntary poverty is not enough.”  “Not enough” for what?   Most immediately, to be able to answer Sorokin’s question– “have you lived with the worker?” – in the affirmative.  You can’t say you’ve lived with the worker unless you’ve gone around and seen, given up what you have, surrendered your mental and spiritual comforts.  But later in the passage, Sorokin’s question is forgotten, and Day raises the stakes:  “going to the people is the purest and best act in Christian tradition and revolutionary tradition and is the beginning of world brotherhood” (216).  And for Day, “going to the people” means being of the people, in particular being of “the truly destitute,” and being of the destitute means making oneself like the destitute, poor and suffering and lacking in privacy and all mental and spiritual comfort.  “Enduring this shame,” she says, is “part of our penance.”  “Enough” in this wider sense means, enough to be a sufficient spiritual discipline and the genuine beginning of world brotherhood.

But in that case, Day’s words bear more on the training of a Christian revolutionary than on the situation of the poor.  The revolutionary must give up funds and privacy and all mental and spiritual comforts.  (This is both like and unlike the mental askesis, which writers practice to get their egos out of the way of their art.)   But that is not to say that the poor, as a group, don’t have such things, and thus not to say that poor people have no access to art.  Which makes sense – because if that’s what Day were saying, she’d be at odds with her own book.  She talks in the passage quoted of “the poor” in general; but whenever she describes an individual, however poor, that person becomes someone with a mental life, and often a taste in art:  “there was that little girl in Harrisburg, and another in Detroit, sent out by their parents to prostitute themselves on the street.  While I talked to the family in Harrisburg, all of whom lived in one room, the little girl sat reading a tattered book, Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall” (213-14).[6]  The little girl isn’t writing, of course, and the question about what the material prerequisites are for being a writer isn’t made less poignant by Day’s image of the girl and her tattered book.  But the gulf between art and the poor seems less absolute.

To these economic critiques of literature I’d add a critique of literary style and vision.  Unlike the economic critiques, which bear on literature generally, the critique of style and vision bears specifically on imaginative fiction, i.e., on the sort of literature that advocates of nonviolence are least likely to write.

Adherents of certain radical philosophical views have distrusted fiction for a long time. Plato famously bans poets from his republic (meaning by “poets” not versifiers but tellers of false tales, i.e., writers of fiction); St. Augustine writes, “I was forced to learn the wanderings of one Aeneas, forgetful of my own, and to weep for dead Dido, because she killed herself for love; the while, with dry eyes, I endured my miserable self dying among these things, far from Thee, O God my life” (Pusey 13); Rousseau writes, “the moral effect of plays and theaters cannot in itself be either good or healthy” (Pleiade  52).

Writers of fiction are correspondingly distrustful of philosophical ideas.  T. S. Eliot praises Henry James for having a mind so fine that no idea could violate it; Chekhov writes that the writer’s job is never to judge but rather to plead the case for the man undergoing punishment; Ford Madox Ford writes that a writer will have his opinions, his ideas, his beliefs–but he must mistrust them.  A writer friend of mine wrote to me, “fiction privileges a profusion of alternatives–non-violence by contrast seems to demand an austerity of intent–as if fiction were waving all around in drunken possibility and non-violence were the cop making it walk the line (and grimly seeing it can’t).”[7]

The writers have the better lines here; and in my world, the world of the academy, Plato and Augustine and Rousseau have lost this argument.  That’s partly because we don’t admire their political ideas; we wouldn’t want to live in the Republic, or the City of God, or whatever combination of Geneva and Eden Rousseau would have designed.  So we don’t trust their aesthetic ideas either.

But I would want to live in what Martin Luther King called “the beloved community” (217); and the relations between the political ideas of nonviolence and the claims of literature must, for me at any rate, be set out differently than we might set out the relations between Plato and Homer.  These are the ideas I take to be part of a program of nonviolence as a way of life:  that violence is among the central causes of human suffering; that violence is intrinsically rather than contingently evil; that violence should therefore not be resisted by violence, even violence undertaken for laudable purposes, since resisting violence by violence perpetuates violence still further (that is what A. J. Muste meant in saying, “there is no way to peace; peace is the way”);  that violence should be resisted only by peaceful means, even if the choice of these means is made at the cost of the resister’s life or the lives of others;  that only by such peaceful resistance can the cycle and empire of violence be broken;  and, most far-reaching, that violence is present and must be resisted not only when armies go to war, or when murderers take the lives of their victims, but everywhere around us: in courts, in standing armies and police forces, in patriotism and parades, in financial excess and inequity, in the force by which accumulations of private and public wealth are protected, and in every institution that, though it is itself not dedicated to violence, requires violence or the threat of violence to protect and regulate it.  These ideas, unlike those of Plato and Augustine and Rousseau, I do admire.  I believe them to be just, and I’d argue that acting in accord with them is necessary to break the intensifying cycle of violence we live in.

That doesn’t keep me from noticing that they’re also fiercely judgmental ideas, condemning many things that many people – myself included – do in their daily lives.  The writer’s job is not to judge; the job of a practitioner of nonviolence is to be judging all the time – to lay two hands on the oppressor, as Barbara Deming wrote, “the one calming him, making him ask questions, as the other makes him move” (416), but not for a moment to be unsure of who the oppressor is.  Writers are called to mistrust their beliefs; practitioners of nonviolence are called to trust their convictions against the world’s consensus and criticism, to say, as Thoreau says, “he who is more right than his neighbor constitutes a majority of one,” and to have, if I may turn Eliot’s remark on its head, a conscience so fine that no temptation of experience will seduce it.  Writers stand for imagination, practitioners of nonviolence for conscience.  I value Shakespeare and Tolstoy for a practically infinite capacity to enter into the perspectives of their characters.  I value Woolman and Day and King for an equally vast, equally stubborn capacity to hold steadily to the light within them.

In utopia, my utopia at any rate, there would be no violence, and certainly nothing like the massive, addictive violence of our present world; and, as there would be no involuntary poverty, there would not have to be any voluntary poverty either.  But there would be literature.  And citizens of a utopia would need to work hard to keep literature vital, since in most fictional utopias – and who has any experience of real ones? – a certain flattening of the imagination is the chief danger to watch out for.  In utopia, if not in life, ennui is the arch-villain Baudelaire made it out to be, and the poet’s unchained imagination is its remedy.

But utopia is not where we are.  Some people, myself included, lead lives one might call utopian, largely free of material care and devoted to love and to valuable and gratifying work.  Most don’t.  The gaps and inequities between rich and poor are staggering, there are some 27 million people now in slavery, 6,000 children a month die as a result of the sanctions on Iraq, wars are abundant, and Dwight Eisenhower’s prophetic utterance, that  “every gun made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed” (37), is more poignantly true than ever.

Because that’s the case, I’m inclined in my own life to move, along the line running between literature and nonviolence, a few steps towards nonviolence. I’m not unaware of the dangers this poses. Conscience, the genuine article and not some hypocritical imitation, can stunt the making and experiencing of art.  Nor do I have a clear sense of what taking these steps might mean, or where or how far they’d have to lead to do any good.  What, in my life or in the lives of others who share these contradictory values of mine, would tipping the balance in favor of conscience mean?  A more critical account of what’s lost as well as gained by imaginative sympathy, a franker acknowledgment of literature as an industry and as an activity requiring money and solitude? Time volunteering with Food not Bombs, a more systematic refusing to buy sweatshop-made clothing, stronger acts of civil disobedience?  Denise Levertov’s lines, that “peace, like a poem,/ is not there ahead of itself” (40), are some consolation to me for this vagueness.  A deeper consolation is my certain sense that the problem is so acute that the solutions will probably start out by looking petty or awkward or peculiar.  The world we live in is bad enough that some fundamental things have got to change to make it better, maybe even things that, like the ordinary practice of literature, I think of as undeniable goods.


[1] A clarification: nonviolence as a way of life is best understood in contrast with nonviolence as a tactic.  People committed to nonviolence as a tactic might say, “this demonstration should be nonviolent because that’s the best way to gain sympathy from the public.”  People committed to nonviolence as a way of life reject the use of violence on principle, across the board, directly and indirectly, nationally and personally, in themselves and in others; in particular, they refuse, in Staughton and Alice Lynd’s phrase, “to accept a stereotyped image of ‘the enemy’ . . . to relinquish the conception that the antagonist is human” (xxxiv).  In this essay, “nonviolence” always means “nonviolence as a way of life.”

[2] My profound thanks to Sally Merry and Victor Kazanjian, of Wellesley College’s Program in Peace and Justice Studies, for their life-changing invitation and subsequent support.

[3] The pioneering work in this area is Michael True’s An Energy Field More Intense than War.

[4] How nonviolence is represented by writers not committed to it is a whole other subject, which I won’t touch on in this essay.

[5] Interestingly, the William Wyler film adaptation of the book puts these questions at its center.

[6] A historical novel by Charles Major, made into a 1924 movie starring Mary Pickford.  “Tattered” because only a tattered copy was available, or because the book had been read so often?

[7] Monica Raymond, personal communication, April 9, 2001.

Works Cited

Augustine, Confessions, tr. Edward Pusey (London: J. M. Dent, 1945).

Robert Coles, Dorothy Day:  A Radical Devotion (Reading, Massachusetts:  Addison-Wesley, 1987).

Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981).

Barbara Deming, “On Revolution and Equilibrium,” in Lynd and Lynd, Nonviolence in America.

Emily Dickinson, remarks quoted in a letter from Thomas Wentworth Higginson, August 16th, 1870, in Norton Anthology of American Literature 4th ed. (New York: Norton, 1994).

Dwight Eisenhower, Peace with Justice (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961).

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” in Lynd and Lynd, Nonviolence in America.

Denise Levertov, “Making Peace,” in Breathing the Water (New York: New Directions, 1987).

Alice Lynd and Staughton Lynd ed. and intr., Nonviolence in America:  A Documentary History (Maryknoll, New York:  Orbis, 1995).

Vladimir Nabokov,  Lolita (New York: Perigee, 1980).

Plato, Republic, tr. G. M. A. Grube (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987).

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “À M. D’Alembert,” in Oeuvres complètes, vol. 5: Ecrits sur la musique, la langue et le théâtre (Paris:  Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pleiade, 1995).

Ernest J. Simmons, Leo Tolstoy (London: John Lehmann, 1949).

Leo Tolstoy, Master and Man and Other Stories, tr. and intr. Paul Foote (London: Penguin, 1977).

Jessamyn West, The Friendly Persuasion (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1945).

A. N. Wilson, Tolstoy (New York: Norton, 2001).

Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery, in John Hope Franklin intro., Three Negro Classics (New York: Avon, 1963).

John Woolman, The Journal and Major Essays, ed. Phillips P. Moulton (Richmond, Indiana: Friends United Press, 1989).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lawrence A. Rosenwald is Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of American Literature; Professor of English at Wellesley College. He has also taught in the Wellesley Peace and Justice Studies Program since 2000, and has co-directed that program since 2001. Among his published works are his edited editions of the journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson for Library of America, who recently commissioned him to edit an anthology of writings of peace and pacifism. Besides editing this new volume, during the sabbatical year, 2013, he will be further researching nonviolence in literature. As he states,  “I’ve been a pacifist and war tax resister since 1987, that being the occasion for the writing I’ve done on nonviolence.” Courtesy of the journal, Agni # 54, 2001.

“When planted in the garden, the mustard seed, smallest of all the seeds, became a large tree, and birds came and made their home there.” Luke 13:19

“For me whatever is in the atoms and molecules is in the universe. I believe in the saying that what is in the microcosm of one’s self is reflected in the macrocosm.” M. Gandhi