Childhood, Boyhood, Youth make up the three completed parts of a projected four-part sequence that was Leo Tolstoy’s first writing. One would suppose that with a novelist who generally used a certain amount of autobiography, these first works, which appear in the form of an autobiography (using a first-person narrator), would be the bases for studying his other work; but they have been neglected, and if anyone is to blame, it is Tolstoy himself, who later in life rejected them for their false sentimentality. This is a pity, for, though the young man of the third volume is undoubtedly sentimental, the first two volumes show such a natural development of the character that his feelings seem natural, not only to himself but also to all youth. This description of a particular childhood, boyhood, and youth has sufficient universal relevance to make it worth reading as a tender and real portrait of growing up anywhere and at any time.
The three completed parts of the “Four Epochs of Growth,” the tentative title for the projected four, are of different lengths, with the first two amounting to slightly more than the third part, Youth, the longest of the three. Each section is structured around a chapter bearing the title of that part. Chapter 15 (of twenty-eight chapters) of Childhood is entitled “Childhood,” chapter 19 of the second part is “Boyhood,” and chapter 32 (of forty-five chapters in the third part) is titled...
(The entire section is 1160 words.)
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