Leo tolstoy – author of “anna karenina” and “war and peace

Leo nikolayevich "graf" tolstoy was a russian writer, teacher, and philosopher – his two major works "anna karenina" and "war and peace are among the most influential works of world literature. Tolstoy also made a name for himself in his homeland as a "reform pedagogue" a name and founded a new school system. All his life he fought for the rights of russian peasants living in poverty. His own life was marked by fierce internal conflicts. 100 years ago – on 20. november 1910 – tolstoi died at the age of 82 years.

leo tolstoy - author of 'anna karenina' and 'war and peace

Tolstoy in a painting by the russian painter iwan nikolayevich kramskoi. (source: wikipedia)

Besides fyodor mikhailovich dostoevsky, tolstoy is the most famous russian writer. his books are among the most widely read in the world. His most famous works “war and peace (over a thousand pages long) and “anna karenina” (nearly a thousand pages long) were written between 1865 and 1877.

Often his work is associated with a "cosmos populated by numerous figures that are "more realistic" act as reality itself. Because the characters tolstoy created evolve within his narratives, they seem incredibly vivid. tolstoy had a special gift for writing about everyday things, yet with deep thoughts on topics such as war, religion, agriculture, or feminism ("the new") women’s movement). his writing style is simple and fluent, always trying to get to the bottom of human nature.

as an educator, tolstoy thought about what could be done differently in the education of children than was customary at the time. He criticized above all the neglect of children from the poorer classes of peasants and the working class. Tolstoy’s ambition was "humanism" , "democracy and "freedom also anchor it in the school system ( humanism ) describes a worldview whose ideal is the comprehensively educated human being. The focus is on human values and the dignity of the individual). Following the example of the french philosopher jean-jacques rousseau, whom he held in high esteem, tolstoy briefly set up his own village school.

Childhood and early years

leo tolstoy - author of 'anna karenina' and 'war and peace

yasnaya polyana: tolstoy was born here in 1828, and he spent many years of his life here as well. (source: deutsche fotothek (richard peter) || wikipedia)

Leo (“lev”) tolstoy was born on 9. September 1828 born. According to the “Julian calendar” in use in russia at that time tolstoy’s birthday falls on the 28th day of the year. August 1828. He was descended from a russian noble family – hence the appellation “count”.

The family estate where tolstoy was born is called “yasnaya polyana” and is located in the tula administrative district (about 200 kilometers south of moscow). At that time there was still the so-called “serfdom” in russia. around yasnaya polyana lived about 350 serfs – peasants who were dependent on their landlords and had little freedom.

Already when leo was two years old, he lost his mother – she died giving birth to another child. From then on, a cousin of the father (“aunt Tatjana”) took care of the education of the brothers and sisters. Despite his mother’s early death, tolstoy later described his childhood years as happy. He lived under one roof with his father, aunt, brothers and sisters and paternal grandmother. The young tolstoy idealized his deceased mother as a modest and generous figure – she later appears as such in his books as well.

In 1836, the family moved to moscow, where the children could go to school. In the same year, tolstoy’s father died – the then nine-year-old child was hit hard by this loss. Tolstoy later recounted that it was then that he consciously began to ask himself questions about the meaning of life.

After his father’s death, the brothers and sisters were torn apart – some of Leo’s brothers and sisters moved back to the country to live with aunt Tatiana. Leo, on the other hand, stayed in Moscow, where another aunt named Aline took care of him. After aline’s death in 1841, tolstoy moved in with an uncle in the city of kasan, where he attended university at the age of 15.

youth and study

leo tolstoy - author of 'anna karenina' and 'war and peace

tolstoy at the age of 20: at that time he was struggling with addiction to gambling and alcohol. (source: pavel biryukov || wikipedia)

Tolstoy first began studying oriental languages, but soon became more interested in law and changed majors. He was never comfortable with the university system and was not a very good student.

In 1847, he left the university without graduating. He used the time nevertheless, in particular to learn languages. Thus, as a young man, in addition to his native russian, he already knew – more or less well – arabic, turkish, latin, german, english and french (by the end of his life he spoke as many as twelve different languages).

After dropping out of his studies, tolstoy went back to jasjana poljana without any plan of what to do next. there, as a 20-year-old, he tried to implement social reforms for the serf peasants in order to improve their living conditions.

At the same time, he developed a passion for gambling, which led him to incur large debts. In his younger years, tolstoy was also anything but averse to alcohol. He also plunged into numerous love affairs. to maintain this lifestyle, tolstoy did not stay in yasiana polyana all the time – he often spent weeks in the big cities of moscow and st. petersburg.

war experiences: tolstoy becomes a soldier

leo tolstoy - author of 'anna karenina' and 'war and peace

the contemporary drawing shows the siege of sevastopol, which tolstoy witnessed as a soldier trapped in the city. (source: wikipedia)

In 1851, tolstoy decided to change his lifestyle and follow the example of his younger brother nikolai. The latter told him during a visit about his life as a soldier. Tolstoy became an “artilleryman” in a caucasian regiment. (“artillery” is the technical term for gunner “ensign military service.)

as a soldier, tolstoy became better acquainted with the country and its people – an important prerequisite for his increasingly critical attitude toward society and his search for binding values. In 1852, he wrote his first story, entitled "Childhood" in the years 1854 and 1857 followed the sequels "knabenalter" (boyhood) and "boyhood.

at the outbreak of the so-called crim war, he enlisted in the "danube army" ("artillery") transfer. The Crimean War lasted from 1853 to 1856 and was a military conflict between Russia on one side and the Ottoman Empire, France and Great Britain on the other. After the conclusion of the peace he ended his life as a soldier to return once again to Yasnaya Polyana.

Two of his brothers died of tuberculosis soon after, and tolstoy was undecided about his future. He began with the first preparatory work for his great novels and was also intensively engaged in "folk education. He attempted to found a school in jasjana poljana to teach the children of the serfs. Travels also took him to europe.

Marriage to "sonja and the work on "war and peace

leo tolstoy - author of 'anna karenina' and 'war and peace

the transformation of leo tolstoy: after writing his two great novels, he turned to the subjects of morality and religion. (source: wikipedia)

Tolstoy’s life changed fundamentally after he married sofia andrejewna behrs (“sonja”), who was only 19 years old, in 1862. The couple later had 13 children together – but five of them died very young. Leo and sonja settled in jasnaya polyana.

With the support of his wife tolstoi began to put his great novels into practice. sonja organized tolstoy’s notes and manuscripts, transcribed thousands of pages, and managed the family’s financial affairs.

from 1865 to 1869, tolstoy wrote his most comprehensive work, entitled “war and peace” carries. the book covers the war years at the beginning of the 19. the years 1805 to 1812, when the french emperor napoleon bonaparte invaded russia with his army in order to annex it to his empire.

In this book, Tolstoy unfolds the life stories of countless characters in order to explore the “nature” of the world to represent both the war and the peace. his questions revolve around how the war affects the psychology of the individual and also that of the group. His descriptions take into account all social classes of russia.

Click on the continue arrow to go to the second part of the article about leo tolstoi. There you will learn , like his famous work “anna karenina” emerged, what political movement he championed and how he spent his last years.

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