Leo Tolstoy Biography & Works
Leo Tolstoy was born on the 9th of September 1828, to a noble family, at Yasnaya Polyana, his parents' estate near Tula. Tolstoy was orphaned at the age of nine, and was brought up by his aunt. He was privately tutored, and at the age of sixteen he began his university studies at the university of Kazan, studying language and law; however, he left the university life without a degree as he found the classes boring. He returned to his estate in 1849, where he made several unsuccessful attempts to help educate the serfs. Tolstoy then began an extravagant life in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Leo Tolstoy followed his brother into army service in the Caucasus, in 1851. While there he wrote his first major piece of writing, Childhood (8152). Childhood was to become the first part of an autobiographical trilogy which includes Boyhood (1854), and Youth (1857). He left the army in 1855 and thereafter for several years divided his time between his estate and the literary circles of St. Petersburg. During this time, he once again made an attempt at educating the lower classes, by setting up a school on his estate for peasant children. When his methods of spontaneous approach to learning proved unsuccessful, he embarked on a journey through Western Europe.
1862 brought about Tolstoy's marriage to Sophia Andreyevna Bers, a well-educated young woman, who was to bare him thirteen children. His marriage suffered constant instability, due to (in no small part) his candor about his infidelities and his conception of wifely duties. During this time, Leo Tolstoy wrote The Cossacks (1863), his masterpiece War and Peace (1862-69), and Anna Karenina (1873-76).
Leo Tolstoy's self examination, around 1876, resulted in his conversion to the doctrine of Christian love and acceptance of the principle of nonresistance to evil. He wrote about his ideological and philosophical transformation in Confession (1879). For the remainder of his life, Leo Tolstoy dedicated himself to his new faith, and produced a series of works which reflected his philosophy.
Leo Tolstoy preached nonviolence and Rousseauism, the return to a simpler and more primitive way of life. Considered an anarchist, due to his view that all organizations rooted in force were wrong (including government and the church), he was eventually excommunicated by the Russian Church in 1901; however, the government did not interfere with his mission based on his prestige.
Tolstoy's rigid insistence on practicing what he preached, which included the abandonment of earthly goods led to a permanent rift between him and his wife as well as his children, all save the youngest daughter, Alexandra. Leo Tolstoy died on the 20th of November 1910, of a chill. He and Alexandra had left home without a destination. He died at the railroad stationmaster's house at Astapovo.
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