Count Leo Tolstoy (1818-1910)
Tolstoy is perhaps the greatest writer of prose fiction, and his pièce de résistance, War and Peace, is hailed as perhaps the greatest novel written. Certainly, he and Dostoyevsky are the two most acclaimed Russian writers. A prolific writer and father (he had 13 children), Tolstoy has two major periods: pre- and post-Christian conversion.
Tolstoy was an Aristocrat (a Count), a member of the last great Russian aristocracy, but was unhappy as such: he wanted a better life for the Russian peasant class. The peasants were finally emancipated in 1862, a few years before the Emancipation Proclamation in the U.S. After this, Tolstoy published two of the most greatest (and longest) novels ever written: War and Peace (1869) and Anna Kerenina (1876).
After Anna Kerenina, Tolstoy converted to a Buddhist kind of Christianity (he believed in the morality and anti-materialism of Christ, but he rejected the afterlife, the idea of a personal God and the divinity of Jesus). As a result of his conversion, he renounced aristocrat society, dressed up as a peasant, and started working in the fields. He advocated universal love of all humankind, freedom from hatred and violence, and abolition of private property.
Tolstoy practiced what he preached: he renounced all of his earlier works; he renounced royalties because art should be in the public domain. After his conversion, he wrote a famous essay, "What is Art?" and "The Death of Ivan Illych," which espoused his brand of Christianity. It is perhaps the greatest novella written.
Leo Nikolaevitch Tolstoy (1828-1910) was a Russian writer. He ranks amongst the best storytellers in the world. He is also prominent as an prominent moral and religious thinker and social reformer who influenced the thinking of some prominent men in public life. For example, Mohandas K. Gandhi was very much impressed by ideas of Tolstoy and named his community living project in South Africa as Tolstoy Farm.
Tolstoy was born at Yasnaya Polyana, near Tula in Russia. Both his parents died when he was young, and therefor he was raised by his relatives.
After receiving receiving primary education from tutors, Tolstoy entered University of Kazan in 1844, but left it without obtaining a degree and returned to Yasnaya Polyana in 1847, where he managed his family estate and devoted himself to study. But he became restless and dissatisfied with his life there and joined Russian Army in 1952 and served there till 1856. He distinguished himself for Bravery during the Crimean War.at the Battle of Sevastopol.
The start of his writing career corresponds more or less with his Army service. He wrote three semi autobiographical novels titled Childhood, Boyhood and Youth in the period 1852 to 1857. He also wrote several articles on Sevastopol for a Magazine in 1955.
After retiring from army he made two trips to western Europe in 1857 and 1861. During these trips he took keen interest in the education systems there and on his return to his estate opened opened as school there. He married Sonya Behrs in 1862. However, later years of their married life were quite troubled.
His best known novels were written in fifteen years following his marriage. These Included The Cossacks (1863), War and Peace (1869), and Anna Karenina (1875-1877).
From 1878 to 1885, Tolstoy became obsessed with spiritual, moral and social questions and produced no works of fiction. He changed dramatically during this period as a result of is introspection. He rejected the orthodox Russian Church and developed his own version of Christianity. To live in conformity with his religious belief he gave up his estate and sex life. He dressed and worked as a peasant and tried to be as self sufficient as possible. These actions of Tolstoy drew lot of public attention and to minimize influence of Tolstoy on religious ideas of people, The church excommunicated him in 1901.
Tolstoy returned to writing fiction in 1886, producing works like The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), The power of Darkness (1888), The Devil (1889), TheKreutzer Sonata (1891), and Resurrection (1899). His Novel Hadji Murad was published after his death.