Leo Tolstoy is one of the most popular Russian writers. His books are sold all around the world. If we ask you «What is his most famous creation?» you will reply «War and peace».
In this article, we will tell you what kind of person he was and how did he manage to write books that are still relevant nowadays?
Early years and searching for a way of life
The future writer was born in 1828 into a noble family in Yasnaya Polyana near the town of Tula. He was the fourth child in the family, but his childhood wasn’t happy: his mother died when Leo was 1.5 years old, and then he lost his father at the age of 9. All the siblings were then adopted by relatives. Leo moved to Kazan where he lived with his aunt. There Tolstoy went to the university and began to learn oriental languages, but he soon found his studies not interesting and didn’t want to put much effort into them.
In April 1847, Leo Tolstoy dropped out of the university and moved to his favorite place, Yasnaya Polyana, to start his life there. He made a plan for himself of what he was going to learn (languages, history, medicine, geography, law, and agriculture, among others) but soon he understood that plans and real life don’t align. He wasn’t satisfied with his results. Leo tried to have a calm and good life but also loved big parties. Tolstoy gradually became more and more upset with himself, but he wasn’t willing to change his lifestyle. In 1851 Leo’s brother Nikolay, who was at that time an officer of the Tzar’s army, came to visit him. Leo was very impressed by the stories of his brother and decided to go to the army and fight the war in the Caucasus with Nikolay. There he felt happy and wrote his first novel, «Childhood». In 1852, the novel was welcomed warmly by the public and then published in 1854.
The most important thing to do is literary work
Tolstoy served as a young artillery officer during the Crimean War and was in the city for the 11-month-long siege of Sevastopol in 1854–1855. These events influenced him greatly. Firstly, he wrote an essay «Sevastopol in December» where he described the devotion of Russian soldiers and officers in the Crimean War. This experience he used later to create «War and Peace». During the war and the siege, he drastically changed his point of view. Now he wrote about the inhumanity of the war and senselessness of the death.
In 1855, Leo Tolstoy moved to Saint Peterburg where his novels were welcomed again. In 1856, he left the army and went to Europe to find some inspiration, but his journey wasn’t successful. That is why he returned to his favorite place Yasnaya Polyana where he continued his literary career. There he created such novels as «Three death» (1859), «Family happiness» (1859), and «The Cossacks» (1863). There he became sure that his main career and goal in life was to be a writer.
Approximately at that time, Leo Tolstoy decided to open a school for the children of peasants. In the beginning, he didn`t know how to organize the study process, which was the reason why he undertook a new journey to Europe to find out how the education system for poor people was arranged there. After he came back home, he developed his program of teaching and published pedagogical guidelines.
To love and to be happy
But all these attempts weren’t enough to feel life fully and to be happy. Leo Tolstoy experienced a life crisis when he didn’t have any inspiration to write. The solution to this problem was his marriage in 1864. He was already 34 years old, and his wife Sofia Bers was 18, a very young and nice woman. Leo Tolstoy and Sofia Bers spent 48 years together; they had 13 children. Even though his wife was so young, she managed to give him so much love, spiritual protection, and support that Tolstoy returned to his work and created in the first years of the marriage his most famous novels «War and peace» and «Anna Karenina».
The transformation inside
In the 1870s Leo Tolstoy began to analyze his life and the life of society. His status as an aristocrat and landlord made him think about peasants, social inequality, and the monarchy. He wanted to change society to give all people freedom and equal rights.
At the beginning of the 1880s, Leo Tolstoy changed his way of thinking completely. He rejected the happy family life, his work, and his success. He began to reflect on religion, art, and life. Tolstoy wrote a book called «What I Believe», in which he openly confessed his Christian beliefs. He affirmed his belief in Jesus Christ’s teachings and was particularly influenced by the Sermon on the Mount, and the injunction to turn the other cheek, which he understood as a “commandment of non-resistance to evil by force” and a doctrine of pacifism and nonviolence. His ideas were spread into the intelligent society and got a form of the philosophy named after his surname «Tolstoyan movement». Because of his criticism of the orthodox church, Tolstoy was excommunicated which made him more persistent in his ideas.
Nobel prize and the death
After his novels and other works were translated into different languages, the entire world was able to see his reflections. Leo Tolstoy was nominated in 1902-1906 for the Nobel prize in literature. He rejected the Prize because money wasn’t important to him.
The end of Tosltoy’s life resembled a story from a book. Renouncing his aristocratic lifestyle, Leo Tolstoy secretly left home at night. The health of an old man wasn’t good enough to overcome such a journey and at the age of 82, Leo Tolstoy died on at the station Astapovo.