Leo Tolstoy

Russian novelist

Summary

Born
September 9, 1828
Died
November 20, 1910
Importance
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Biography

Picture of Leo Tolstoy
Source: www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/

Lev Nikolaevich (Leo) Tolstoy (1828–1910). Russian novelist, reformer, and moral thinker

Tolstoy was born at Yasnaya Polyana, the Tolstoy family estate a hundred miles south of Moscow, on August 28. He died on November 20 at a nearby railroad station, having fled in the night from an increasingly contentious marriage and a set of familial relationships that had been hardened in large part by Tolstoy's attempts to apply his radical moral beliefs to his own life. In the intervening eighty-two years Tolstoy became perhaps the most prominent novelist in an age and place of great authors as well as a vociferous critic of science and modernization.

Tolstoy's international fame rests primarily on two novels, War and Peace (1865–1869) and Anna Karenina (1875–1877). His fictional works also include short masterpieces such as "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" (1886), "The Kreutzer Sonata" (1889), and "Master and Man" (1895). In addition he wrote autobiographical accounts of his childhood (Childhood, Boyhood, Youth[1852–1857]) and his experiences as a soldier in the Crimean War (Sevastopol Sketches [1855]). With regard to issues of science, technology, and ethics Tolstoy's most relevant writings include a variety of short, passionate non-fiction works, particularly "What I Believe" (1884), "What Then Must We Do?" (1887), "On the Significance of Science and Art" (1887), "What Is Art?" (1898), and "I Cannot Be Silent" (1908), all of which address a confluence of moral and intellectual errors he perceived in modern life and thought at the turn of the twentieth century.

Like his contemporary Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881), whom he never met, Tolstoy was broadly concerned with the spiritual future of the human race. He attempted to confront the gradual movement away from traditional values with an almost Aristotelian emphasis on the permanent relationships of things, promoting the universality of natural and religious values of love and labor to which he believed the human heart responds. Although the West now knows him as the writer of large and perhaps infrequently read novels, his influence on writers and political dissidents such as Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948) and Alexander Solzhenitsyn (b. 1918) has been enormous, and his thought provides resources for ethical assessments of science and technology that have not yet been explored fully.

Works About Leo Tolstoy

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