An exile

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Lev Tolstoy 1873 portrayed by
Ivan Kramskoi

An exile , even God sees the truth, but does not tell it immediately and God's mills grind slowly ( Russian Бог правду видит, да не скоро скажет , Bog prawdu widit, da ne skoro skaschet), is a short story by Lev Tolstoy , first published in 1872 appeared in the monthly Moscow magazine Besseda . In the same year the text was printed in Tolstoy's 3rd volume of the alphabet reader for school children in Saint Petersburg . The author thought the little story was one of his best. Vasily Surikov created illustrations for the story. The text is one of the Tolstoic stories that Mahatma Gandhi translated into Gujarati in 1905 for his newspaper Indian Opinion . In 1916 Nikolai Larin filmed the material under the title chosen by Tolstoy.


Ivan Dmitrijewitsch Aksenow, a wealthy, enterprising young merchant from Vladimir , is leaving to visit the Nizhny Novgorod fair, although the omens are unfavorable. Ivan's wife saw her husband in a dream with graying hair. The dream comes true: When Aksenov moves into the same room in the hostel with a Ryazan merchant he knows on the outward journey , the friend is stabbed and robbed. Before the bloody act, Aksenov had traveled on in the middle of the night, was found en route by law enforcement agencies and the instrument of the murder, a blood-stained knife, was found in his travel bag.

Aksenov's wife's petition to the Tsar was unsuccessful. Aksenov does not understand his wife's faint doubt about his innocence and has to serve twenty-six years of katorga in Siberia . Before that, he gets knackled.

When, in the twenty-sixth year of imprisonment, Makar Semyonovich was brought in from Vladimir, and from where he was from? How so? When asked, Aksenov cannot, to his horror, exclude from the replies that the newcomer is the murderer of the Ryazan merchant. Out of sheer anger and pain, Aksenow can hardly contain himself for the next two weeks. Makar has already dug a tunnel out of the dungeon and wants to take Aksenow with him on the run. Makar wants to kill Aksenov in case he betrays him. Aksenov refuses the offer to flee because he has lost contact with his family. When the excavation is discovered, Aksenow is silent when asked about the earthworker.

In an interview with Aksenov, Makar admits the murder of the Ryazan merchant and asks for forgiveness. Aksenov cannot forgive, but he thinks God will forgive Makar. Aksenov only thinks about his death.

Makar confesses to his murder. By the time Aksenov's written acquittal finally arrives at the katorga, the innocent has already died.


  • Gary R. Jahn ( University of Minnesota ) analyzed the text in 1975.
  • In his book In Quest of Tolstoy in 2008, Hugh McLean stumbled upon the fact that Aksenov's wife did not attempt to visit her husband during the quarter-century imprisonment and that Aksenov was questioned about the tunnel excavation, although the prison director knew who had dug.

German-language editions

  • An exile . P. 3–14 in Leo N. Tolstoy: Ein Verbbander. Stories. Translated from the Russian by Wilhelm Goldschmidt . Reclam, Leipzig 1960 ( RUB 8110, edition used)
  • God's mills grind slowly. German by Arthur Luther . P. 266–276 in: Gisela Drohla (Ed.): Leo N. Tolstoj. All the stories. Fourth volume. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1961 (2nd edition of the edition in eight volumes 1982)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Russian Беседа (московский журнал), entertainment (Moscow magazine)
  2. Russian Азбука Льва Толстого, The alphabet of Lev Tolstoy
  3. eng. Indian Opinion, The Indian Opinion
  4. Source: ru: Бог правду видит, да не скоро скажет
  5. Russian Иван Дмитриевич Аксенов
  6. Russian Макар Семёнович
  7. ^ Gary R. Jahn: A Structural Analysis of Leo Tolstoy's ›God Sees the Truth, But Waits‹ . Studies in Short Fiction, XXI, No. 3 (Summer 1975), 261 70
  8. Source: ru: Бог правду видит, да не скоро скажет # Критика


  1. Tolstoy chose the Russian proverb "God sees the truth, but does not tell it immediately" as the title.
  2. Gandhi described himself as a student of Tolstoy.