"We live surrounded by an endless multitude of mysteries. But no matter how enigmatic may be the mysteries which surround being, what is most enigmatic and disturbing is that mystery in general exists and that we are somehow definitely and forever cut off from the sources and beginnings of life."






Lev Shestov photo


> Athens and Jerusalem

Written over a period of 20 years and completed in 1937, it is clearly Shestov's crowning achievement - a critical overview of the history of Western philosophy from the standpoint of Shestov's vision of the destructive bondage that rationalist thought imposes on human spirit.

> In Job's Balances

This book (1929) constitutes a collection of Shestov's essays on Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Blaise Pascal, Descartes, Plotinus and Spinoza written in the 1920's. Shestov's sharp gift for philosophical criticism finds here its best examples.

> Potestas Clavium

Published in 1923, this work is partly written in aphoristic form and represents Shestov's first attempt at a "critique of organized metaphysics" which he pursued relentlessly ever since. It also contains an essay on Edmund Husserl. The English translation was made from the French edition rather than the original Russian.

> Speculation and Revelation

This book is a posthumous collection of Shestov's essays written at different times and published in йmigrй journals. Shestov's daughters made the selection and issued the book in 1964 in Paris. Some essays deal with Shestov's celebrated contemporaries such as Martin Buber, Edmund Husserl, Nikolai Berdyaev, Lucien Lйvi-Bruhl. Others are devoted to Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and others. The book's longest essay, "Speculation and Apocalypse", treats of Vladimir Solovyov's philosophy.

> The Good in the Teaching of Tolstoy and Nietzsche

Published in 1900, this is the book that established Shestov as one of the more original thinkers of the Russian philosophical renaissance which included Berdyaev, Solovyov, S.Bulgakov, N.Fedorov and a host of other newly arisen luminaries at the juncture of an ominous century.

> Dostoevsky and Nietzsche : Philosophy of Tragedy

Immediately following upon the previous in 1903, Shestov continues here his exploration of a new vision of philosophy and the art of asking "first and last questions". Shestov called Dostoevsky his philosophical master. His second master, Friendrich Nietzsche is given here a very shestovian appreciation.

> All Things are Possible (Apotheosis of Groundlessness)

Originally published in Russia in 1905 under the striking title "Apofeoz Bespochvennosti", this collection of stark aphorisms dates from Shestov's so-called nihilistic period thought as you will see it already contains in grano most of his favorite insights. In 1920 it was translated into English by S.S.Koteliansky and published with a preface by D.H.Lawrence (no doubt to add "weight" to a then unknown author). The book passed unnoticed. Today it reads as fresh as a century ago.

> Penultimate Words & Other Essays (Beginnings and Endings)

Another collection of nihilistic essays and aphorisms dating from 1908. Translated and published in London in 1916 under the title "Anton Chekhov and Other Essays" and simultatneously in Boston as "Penultimate Words". The Russian version, called "Nachala i Kontzy", does not correspond exactly to the English editions as to essays included.

> Kierkegaard and the Existential Philosophy

First published in 1938 in a French translation, this is an account of Shestov's encounter with Kierkegaard who proved both a challenger and a brother in arms. The "struggle with Kierkegaard" spanned a decade and fueled some of Shestov's most uncompromising insights into the nature of faith as source of life.

Leo Sjestov

Most of these essays and aphorisms have been published separately over the years and were later collected or incorporated into books listed above. Shestov was always more of an essayist than a book writer. It has something to do with his style which he tried to render as colloquial as possible, after Socrates' example, and to the greater abolishment of pseudo-scientific academic philosophy.


A Thousand and One Nights
published 1917

Apotheosis of Groundlessness
An attempt of adogmatic thinking, 1905

Children and Stepchildren of Time
Spinoza in History, 1925

Concupiscentia Irresistibilis
On the Philosophy of the Middle Ages, 1930's

Creation from the Void
On Anton Chekhov, published 1908

Dostoevsky and Nietzsche
The Philosophy of Tragedy, 1903

Gethsemane Night
Pascal's Philosophy, 1924

The Gift of Prophecy
For the twenty-fifth anniversary of Dostoevsky's death, 1908

Gnosis and Existential Philosophy
on Nikolai Berdyaev, 1933

The Good in the Teaching of
Tolstoy and Nietzsche

Philosophy and Preaching, 1900

In Memory of a Great Philosopher
on Edmund Husserl, published 1933

In Praise of Folly
on Berdyaev's "Sub Specie Aeternitatis", published 1907

In the Bull of Phalaris
Knowledge and Freedom, 1930's

Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky
published 1935

Kierkegaard as a Religious Philosopher
published 1933

Martin Buber
published 1933

Memento Mori
On Edmund Husserl's Theory of Knowledge, 1916

Menacing Barbarians of today
excerpts in French, published in English 1934

Myth and Truth
On the Metaphysics of Knowledge (Lйvy-Bruhl), 1936

On the Eternal Book
In Memory of M.O. Gershenzon, 1925

On the "Regeneration of Convictions" in Dostoevsky
published 1930

On the Roots of Things
published 1921

On the Second Dimension of Thought
aphorisms, published 1930

On Two Books by Richard Kroner
published 1930

Penultimate Words
from Beginnings and Endings, 1908

Revelations of Death :
On Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, 1921

Parmenides in chains
On The Sources of The Metaphysical Truths, 1931

Revolt and Submission
aphorisms, published 1922

Science and Free Inquiry
published 1923

Sine Effusione Sanguinis
On Philosophical Honesty, 1930
(Karl Jaspers' book "Vernunft und Existenz")

Speculation and Apocalypse
The Religious Philosophy of Vladimir Solovyov, 1927

The Theory of Knowledge
aphorisms, 1908

Vehement Words
Plotinus' Ecstasies, 1926

Yasnaya Polyana and Astapovo
On the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Death of Leo Tolstoy, 1936

What is Bolshevism?
published 1920

What is Truth?
On Ethics and Ontology (Husserl), 1927

Here are links to Shestov's texts in Russian available online here and at other sites. Some of these have not been translated into English (to my knowledge), they are marked with a triple asterix. Also note that English editions of Shestov's books are not always exactly equivalent to the Russian editions as to which essays are included.

А.С. Пушкин
Alexander Pushkin ***

Апофеоз безпочвенности
Apotheosis of Groundlessness

Афины и Иерусалим
Athens and Jerusalem

Великие кануны (Предисловие)
Preface to "Great Vigils" ***

Власть Ключей (Potestas Clavium)

Гнозис и экзистенциальная философия
Gnosis and Existential Philosophy (N. Berdyaev)

Дневник мыслей (1919-1920)
Journal of Thoughts (diary notes 1919-1920) ***

Добро в учении гр.Толстого и Ницше
The Good in the Teaching of Tolstoy and Nietzsche

Достоевский и Ницше: философия трагедии
Dostoevsky and Nietzsche: Philosophy of Tragedy

Киргегард и Достоевский
Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky

Киргегард и экзистенциальная философия
Kierkegaard and the Existential Philosophy

Киргегард - религиозный философ
Kierkegaard as a Religious Philosopher

Логика религиозного творчества
The logic of religious creation (William James) ***

На весах Иова
In Job's Balances

Начала и Концы (Предисловие)
Preface to "Beginnings and Endings" ***

Победы и поражения
Victories and Defeats (H. Ibsen) ***

Последний привет
In memory of Jacques Riviere ***

Похвала глупости
In praise of Folly (N. Berdyaev)

Поэзия и проза Федора Сологуба
Poetry and Prose of Fyodor Sologub ***

Предпоследние слова
Penultimate Words

Пророческий дар
The Gift of Prophecy (F. Dostoevsky)

Разрушающий и созидающий миры
Destroyer and builder of worlds (on Leo Tolstoy) ***

Творчество из ничего
Creation from the Void (Anton Chekhov)

Тургенев (неоконченная книга)
Turgenev (unfinished book) ***

Умозрение и апокалипсис
Speculation and Apocalypse (Vl. Solovyov)

Философия и теория познания
The Theory of Knowledge

Что такое большевизм?
What is Bolshevism? ***

Шекспир и его критик Брандес
Shakespeare and his critic Brandes ***

Угроза современных варваров
Menacing Barbarians of Today

Sola Fide - Только верою (неоконченная книга)
By Faith Alone (unfinished book) ***


  • The search engine will return all occurrences of the word(s) and can thus be used as an index. It also supports exact-phrase and multilingual queries. Additionally it is possible to search each book separately. The search box on the TOC pages (table of contents) will directly search the contents of that particular section. Elsewhere the search boxes are set for the entire site.
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  • Some chapters are made up of a collection of aphorisms which are indexed on a separate page (index).
  • Many texts Shestov comments on are available online and can be located through the links page. Bear in mind that Shestov often gives his own translation of the texts he quotes (especially from Greek) which is often more literal than what is found in standard translations. As I have learned from my own work with ancient languages, the amount of interpretation that goes into the so-called "standard" translations entirely justifies Shestov's practice.


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