I am a major Chekhov and Tolstoy fan.
I don’t mean that I know a lot about them or that I am some kind of expert in their work but that when I read or listen to either Chekhov or Tolstoy I am constantly amazed by their insight into human nature.
They challenge me as a pastor and a preacher: have I thought deeply about the way people work nearly as well? I am preaching the Bible to people, do I know people?
I’m listening to a couple of works by Tolstoy on death right now. You can download them for free here and I tell you they have so fleshed out the book of Ecclesiastes for me. I’m working my way through Ecclesiastes and I’ve often thought that the themes there provide such great material for a novelist.
I don’t know and I doubt it, but listening to Tolstoy I almost wonder if that is what he was doing. If you want some insight into the folly of materialism I’d encourage you to read Tolstoy’s How much land does a man need? or on the hopelessness of life without Christ – the absolute tragedy of life without Christ – I’d encourage you to listen to his The Death of Ivan Ilyich when you get the chance.