Lev Nikolaievich Tolstoi

Lev Nikolaievich Tolstoi

Was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, he is best known for the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), often cited as pinnacles of realist fiction.

Count Lev Tolstoi was the youngest of the four boys of the family. In 1830, when Tolstoi’s mother, born Princess Volkonskaia, died, his father’s cousin was busy caring for children. After their father, Count Nikolai Tolstoi, passed away just 7 years later, their aunt was appointed as their guardian. When their aunt died, Tolstoi and his brothers moved to a second aunt in Kazan, Russia. Although Tolstoi suffered many losses at a very young age, he will later idealize his childhood memories in his writings.

Tolstoi went through primary school at home with the help of German and French teachers. In 1843, he enrolled in a program of oriental languages at the University of Kazan. There, the writer hasn’t excelled as a student. His low grades forced him to transfer at an easier program, of law. Tolstoi finally abandoned the University of Kazan in 1847 without a diploma, the reason being its inclination towards excessive partying. He has returned to his parents’ property where he became a farmer.

Lev Tolstoi lived in Yasnaia Poliana together with his wife and children and spent most of the 1860’s toiling on the first great novel, “War and Peace”. Part of this book was published in the “Russian Messenger” in 1865 under the title “The Year 1805”. By 1868, he published another three chapters. A year later, the novel was finished. Both critics and the audience buzzed about the novel’s historical descriptions about the Napoleonic wars combined with the careful development of the fictional, but realistic characters. The novel uniquely integrated three long essays that satirized the historical laws. Among the ideas that Lev Tolstoi glorified in “War and Peace” is also the belief that a human’s meaning and quality of life are acquired through everyday activities.

Following the success of “War and Peace”, in 1873 Tolstoi began to work on the second of his best novels, “Anna Karenina”. The novel was based in part on current events since Russia was at war with Turkey. Like the previous novel, in “Anna Karenina”, fictional events of the author’s life were transposed, as it is specifically obvious, the romance between Kitty and Levin whose relationship is said to resemble that of Tolstoi and his wife.

As a consequence of embracing the unconventional controversial spiritual beliefs, Tolstoi was excluded Russian Orthodox Church and was supervised by the secret police. When his new beliefs requested Tolstoi’s willingness to donate money, his wife has strongly opposed. This disagreement has strained the couple’s marriage, until Tolstoi reluctantly agreed to compromise: he allowed the granting of all his written copyrights to his wife in 1881.

Tolstoi continued to write fiction over the 1880-1890 years. Among his later works genres there are meaningful stories and realistic works. One of the most successful works was the novel “The Death of Ivan Ilich” written in 1886. In this work, the main character struggles to defeat the imminent death. The character’s name, Ivan Ilich, makes reference to the discordant note that he is wasting his life with trivial matters, but he comes to find out too late.

During the last years, Tolstoi reaped the fruit of international appreciation. However, he still struggled to reconcile with the spiritual beliefs that have created tensions in his home. His wife wasn’t only against his convictions, but she disapproved of his followers who regularly visited the family property. Their marriage problems grew in the press. Eager to get rid of his wife’s resentment (which were getting bigger and bigger) in 1910, Lev Tolstoi and his daughter, Aleksandra, embarked on a long journey. Aleksandra, Tolstoi’s youngest daughter, will become her father’s doctor on the journey. They were traveling incognito, hoping to avoid the press, to no avail.

To this day, Lev Tolstoi’s novels are considered some of the finest literary achievements. “War and Peace” is cited as the greatest novel ever written. In the contemporary academy, Tolstoi is still recognized worldwide for his gift to describe the unconscious motives of his characters. He is also recognized for his delicacy in determining the role of each action of man in everyday life, in defining its character and purpose.

Other personalities

Discover some other popular persons who live / lived in Russia.

Tsar Nicholas II

Tsar Nicholas II

Was the last Tsar of Russia, ruling from 1 November 1894 until his forced abdication on 15 March 1917. His reign saw the fall of Imperial Russia from being one of the foremost great powers of the world to economic and military collapse. Near Sankt Petersburg, on 18 May 1868 was born Tsar Nicholas II, […]

Ceaikovski

Piotr Ilich Tchaikovski

Some of whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. Tchaikovski was honored in 1884, by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension. […]

Putin

Vladimir Putin

Putin was Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000, President from 2000 to 2008, and again Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012. During his second term as Prime Minister, he was the Chairman of the ruling party, United Russia Party. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in Leningrad, now Sankt Petersburg and was the only child of […]

Peter The Great

Peter The Great

Was the ruler of Russia, since 7 May/27 April 1682 until his death. He was a tall person, having a heigth of 2 metres, which was way above the average men heigth of that period. His true name was Piotr Veliki. Peter The Great’s (Piotr Veliki) parents were Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and Natalia Naryshkin. Tsar […]

Ivan Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov

Was a Russian physiologist known primarily for his work in classical conditioning. Inspired by the progressive ideas which D. I. Pisarev, the most eminent of the Russian literary critics of the 1860’s, and I. M. Sechenov, the father of Russian physiology, were spreading, Pavlov abandoned his religious career and devoted his life to science. Pavlov […]

Ivan Terrible

Ivan the Terrible

His true name was Ivan Vasilievich. On 25 August 1530, Ivan is born, the highly anticipated son of the Grand Duke of Russia, Vasili III. Ivan’s birth is for the residents of the time the long awaited moment since he would be the first son of the Prince. When he was born, the Kremlin was […]

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close