Resurrection is a philosophical novel by Leo Tolstoy. It chronicles the efforts of a Russian nobleman to atone for his previous misdeeds towards a young woman, who has found herself in prison. The protagonist, Nekhlyudov, blames himself for her fall from grace and her later incarceration.
As Nekhlyudov tries to help Maslova, he becomes acutely aware of the injustice, cruelty and corruption around him, and this ensures that his mission extends beyond mere personal redemption.
I had not read any Tolstoy since my teens (War And Peace), and the consensus seems to me that this later effort, Resurrection, is not as "literary" as some of his earlier novels, with less depth in terms of storyline and characterizations. It does act as a platform for the author to expound some of his political beliefs (by this time he was a Christian anarchist).
I was drawn to this work in part because of my own interest in the economic theories of Henry George, to which Tolstoy had become an enthusiastic adherent. The book, though, does not go into as much detail about the workings of Georgism as I had been led to expect.
Resurrection might not be on a par in artistic terms with Tolstoy's acknowledged masterpieces, but I found the story quite absorbing, and the subject matter should tug at the conscience of most people. Some of the passages concerning the conditions endured by the prisoners are genuinely disturbing and moving. Also, Nekhlyudov's interactions with Maslova are quite complex, and how one interprets and gauges their attitudes to each other at various stages adds to the interest.
It is possible to argue I think that there is not sufficient space in the novel to fully explore how the Nekhlyudov character arrived at his world-view - it seems that even before his liaison with Maslova he was harbouring grave misgivings about "the system", and at the disparity between the luxury enjoyed by his own class and the plight of the downtrodden. On the other hand, his indignation at what he witnesses, and his energetic moves to intervene, help to propel the story.
I found highly interesting the descriptions of some of the less appetizing representatives of the ruling classes and the bureaucracy, and the way in which their attitudes of arrogance and indifference compounded Nekhlyudov's disaffection with the milieu with which he had hitherto been closely connected.
So, Resurrection is an interesting read. The world may have changed considerably since this was written in the late 19th century, but the broader issues which it examines can, with some imagination, be transferred to modern times.