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Leo Tolstoy

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Introduction to Leo Tolstory

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Leo Tolstoy

  1. 1. Count Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy Writer and Thinker 1828-1910
  2. 2. Ivan Kramskoy Portrait of Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
  3. 3. Born August 28 (Sept. 9) 1828 on family estate, Yasnaya Polyana
  4. 4. Childhood and Youth • Born into an ancient noble family • Parents die when • Tolstoy is young • Raised by his • aunts • Studies law at the • Kazan’ University
  5. 5. Tolstoy’s Military Career: 1851-56 Serves first in the Caucasus Then in an artillery regiment in Sebastopol, Crimea Writes and publishes his first fiction: Childhood (1852) Boyhood (1854) Youth (1857)
  6. 6. Literary Beginnings • Moves to Petersburg, tries to integrate into literary circles • In 1857 visits France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany • Photo: Tolstoy inPhoto: Tolstoy in 18621862
  7. 7. 1859: Interest in education1859: Interest in education Upon his returnUpon his return from Europe,from Europe, establishesestablishes schools for peasantschools for peasant children on hischildren on his estate at Yasnayaestate at Yasnaya PolyanaPolyana 1860 goes to W.1860 goes to W. Europe to studyEurope to study schoolsschools
  8. 8. Sophia Andreevna Behrs (1844-1919)Sophia Andreevna Behrs (1844-1919) • Tolstoy and Sophia marry in 1862 • They immediately settle in Yasnaya Polyana • They have 13 children (only 9 survive)
  9. 9. Life with Tolstoy Sophia Andreevna: "I lived with Lev Nikolayevich for forty-eight years, but I never really learned what kind of man he was.“  
  10. 10. The Tolstoys
  11. 11. Tolstoy, his children and grandchildren
  12. 12. War and Peace (1863-69) • Begins to appear in literary magazine Russky vestnik in 1865 • Reflects Tolstoy’s interest in the Russian narod (“people”) • Graphic descriptions of slaughter on the battlefield reflect Tolstoy’s experience as a soldier, amount to a pacifist critique of war
  13. 13. Tolstoy in his study
  14. 14. Anna Karenina, 1873-77 • Family novel centred around an autobiographical hero plus a novel about adultery (cf. Flaubert’s Madame Bovary) • Vehicle for Tolstoy to express his opinion on the reforms of the 1860s, agriculture, modernity
  15. 15. Critical, Psychological Realism • Investigation into the more profound aspects of life • Social inequality • Motivation, why do we do what we do? • Psychological contradictions • Politics • What is Russia? What is Russia’s role in the world?
  16. 16. The 1880s: The Spiritual Crisis • Tolstoy radically questions society, religion, morality, sex, artistic practices • Renounces his previous literary works • Publishes A Confession (1884), Death of Ivan Ilich (1886), Kreuzer Sonata (1887-89)
  17. 17. Tolstoy’s core beliefs • Non-resistance to evil • Renounce all luxury and wealth • Live by one’s own labour • Be like the humble peasant • Vegetarianism
  18. 18. Tolstoy’s Philosophy Il’ya Repin. Tolstoy as ploughman
  19. 19. Vladimir Chertkov (1854-1936) and the Tolstoyans • Meets Tolstoy in 1883 • 1884 becomes publisher of Tolstoy’s and others’ work in popular cheap editions • Educational projects for moral improvement • After Tolstoy’s death edits his work
  20. 20. The last Chapter 1884 first attempt to leave home, gave up his estate in Yasnaya Polyana 1901 Excommunication from Russian Orthodox Church In November of 1910, Tolstoy leaves home
  21. 21. His letter to Sofya Andreevna “My departure will sadden you. But understand and believe that I cannot act in any other way. My position in the house is becoming, or has become, unbearable. Apart from anything else, I cannot live in those conditions of luxury in which I have lived, and am doing what old men of my age usually do: they abandon the worldly life to live out in isolation and silence their last days…”
  22. 22. Tolstoy falls ill on the train, is taken in by the stationmaster… …in the small railway station of Astapovo
  23. 23. Tolstoy’s room in Astapovo
  24. 24. The End Fell ill and died seven days later Thousands of people came to ask about the writer’s condition
  25. 25. Tolstoy’s wife looking through the window
  26. 26. Clock at the Astapovo railway station stopped at the time of Tolstoy’s death
  27. 27. Last words “There are masses of people, apart from Leo Tolstoy, but you only pay attention to Leo Tolstoy…that’s not how peasants die. … I love the truth.”
  28. 28. ’ Tolstoy’s grave
  29. 29. Leo Tolstoy’s Biography I clearly realized that my biography, if it suppressed all the nastiness and criminality of my life - as they customarily write biographies - would be a lie, and that if one is going to write my biography, one must write the whole truth. – Leo Tolstoy
  30. 30. Thoughts from the book "For Every Day“ “That the only object of man's life is self-perfection — the perfecting of immortal souls — that this is is seen to be correct by the fact alone that every other object is senseless in view of death. Therefore the question whether you have done what you should have done is of immense importance, for the only meaning of your life is in doing in this short term allowed you that which is desired of you by Him who or that which has sent you into life. Are you doing the right thing?”

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