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Lev Tolstoy – prominent Russian writer

Ilya Efimovich Repin. Lev Tolstoy

Ilya Efimovich Repin. Lev Tolstoy

Lev Tolstoy is one of the world’s greatest novelists, who is best known for two long novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877).
He was the first who refused the copyright, was an opponent of the state system , and was excommunicated for the rejection of religious authority. He refused the Nobel Prize, hated money and took the side of the peasants.
Leo had left for us 165,000 sheets of manuscript, 10,000 letters and 90 volumes of his works.
Throughout his life he was searching for the meaning of life and the happiness that had found in the simple word – good.
Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828 in Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula region of Russia, into the well-known family of old Russian nobility. He was the fourth of five children. When the parents died, young Lev and his siblings were brought up by relatives.

Tolstoy in his twentieth

Tolstoy in his twentieth

In 1851 he went with his older brother to the Caucasus and joined the army. In 1855–56 Tolstoy wrote Sevastapol Sketches, three short stories which tells of his years as a second lieutenant during the Crimean War.

Tolstoy went abroad twice (in 1857 and 1860-1861) to study Western methods of education. He came to the conclusion that the Russian education is fundamentally wrong , especially the education of the peasantry. Tolstoy established a school for peasant children in Yasnaya Polyana. The school based on the principles Tolstoy described in his 1862 essay “The School at Yasnaya Polyana”. It was the first example of a coherent theory of democratic education.
He also began to publish a pedagogical magazine and had made several textbooks for elementary education. Leo is also known as the author of the ” ABC “, “New ABC ” and “Reader “.

Sonya Behrs

Sonya Behrs

Tolstoy met his future wife, Sonya Behrs , the daughter of a court physician, when she was seventeen and he was thirty-four years . On September 23, 1862 they married. Together the couple lived for 48 years, gave birth to 13 children. The Countess was not only a wife, but faithful and loyal friend, secretary, proof-reader and financial manager.

Lev and Sonya

Lev and Sonya

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

The great writer was interested in India and Vedic philosophy. Tolstoy’s ideas of non-resistance to evil by force , described in his work “The Kingdom of God is within you “, had a strong influence on the young Mahatma Gandhi , who later led the nationalist movement in India and had made its peaceful separation from Britain in 1947.

Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace” at first was called “1805”, then “All’s Well That Ends Well ” and ” Three Eras”. According to the researchers , the novel was rewritten for 8 times, and some of its episodes – more than 25 times .

Tolstoy , Maxim Gorky and Anton Chekhov

Tolstoy , Maxim Gorky and Anton Chekhov

In October 1885 Tolstoy was visited by William Frey – a writer , a vegetarian , a follower of the teachings of Auguste Conte. Since then Lev had given up meat and fish. His daughter – Tatiana and Maria, followed his example.

Tolstoy till the end of his days called himself a Christian, although he was excommunicated from the Orthodox Church. Having a disagreement with the church, Lev started his own Christian doctrine , which was called “Tolstoyanism “. One of the followers of this doctrine was famous writer Mikhail Bulgakov, the author of the novel “Master and Margarita”.
Tolstoy went on a trip after the break with his wife and got pneumonia. He died on November 7, 1910 at the age of 82. It was the first public funeral of the famous person without priests and prayers, without candles and icons.

Tolstoy’s Quotes:
– Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.
– Everything comes to those who wait.
– All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
– Strong people are always simple.
– Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.
– Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
– In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.
– There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.
– Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.
– A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.
– Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.
– The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.

One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.
There are several films about Tolstoy: Leo Tolstoy (1984) directed by Sergei Gerasimov, How Fine, How Fresh the Roses Were (1913), Departure of a Grand Old Man (1912), and The Last Station (2009) directed by Michael Hoffman with Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy and Helen Mirren as Sofya Tolstoya.
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Lev Tolstoy – prominent Russian writer