58 Facts About Tolstoy


Tolstoy received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906 and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901,1902, and 1909; the fact that he never won is a major controversy.

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Tolstoy first achieved literary acclaim in his twenties with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth, and Sevastopol Sketches, based upon his experiences in the Crimean War.

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Tolstoy's fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, "After the Ball", and Hadji Murad.

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Tolstoy became a dedicated advocate of Georgism, the economic philosophy of Henry George, which he incorporated into his writing, particularly Resurrection.

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The first documented members of the Tolstoy family lived during the 17th century, thus Pyotr Tolstoy himself is generally considered the founder of the noble house, being granted the title of count by Peter the Great.

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Tolstoy was the fourth of five children of Count Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoy, a veteran of the Patriotic War of 1812, and Princess Mariya Tolstaya.

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Tolstoy's mother died when he was two and his father when he was nine.

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Tolstoy left the university in the middle of his studies, returned to Yasnaya Polyana and then spent much time in Moscow, Tula and Saint Petersburg, leading a lax and leisurely lifestyle.

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Tolstoy began writing during this period, including his first novel Childhood, a fictitious account of his own youth, which was published in 1852.

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Tolstoy was appalled by the number of deaths involved in warfare, and left the army after the end of the Crimean War.

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Tolstoy later instilled the concept in Mahatma Gandhi through his A Letter to a Hindu when young Gandhi corresponded with him seeking his advice.

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Tolstoy reviewed Proudhon's forthcoming publication, La Guerre et la Paix, and later used the title for his masterpiece.

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Tolstoy described the schools' principles in his 1862 essay "The School at Yasnaya Polyana".

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On 23 September 1862, Tolstoy married Sophia Andreevna Behrs, who was sixteen years his junior and the daughter of a court physician.

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Tolstoy was called Sonya, the Russian diminutive of Sofia, by her family and friends.

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Tolstoy would continue editing War and Peace and had to have clean final drafts to be delivered to the publisher.

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Some members of the Tolstoy family left Russia in the aftermath of the 1905 Russian Revolution and the subsequent establishment of the Soviet Union, and many of Leo Tolstoy's relatives and descendants today live in Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the United States.

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Tolstoy's son, Count Lev Lvovich Tolstoy, settled in Sweden and married a Swedish woman.

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One of his great-great-grandsons, Vladimir Tolstoy was born on 1962, and is a director of the Yasnaya Polyana museum since 1994 and an adviser to the President of Russia on cultural affairs since 2012.

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Ilya Tolstoy's great-grandson, Pyotr Tolstoy, is a well-known Russian journalist and TV presenter as well as a State Duma deputy since 2016.

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Tolstoy is considered one of the giants of Russian literature; his works include the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina and novellas such as Hadji Murad and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

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Tolstoy served as a second lieutenant in an artillery regiment during the Crimean War, recounted in his Sevastopol Sketches.

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Tolstoy thought that Anna Karenina was his first true novel.

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Tolstoy explores and explains the economic philosophy of Georgism, of which he had become a very strong advocate towards the end of his life.

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Tolstoy tried himself in poetry, with several soldier songs written during his military service, and fairy tales in verse such as Volga-bogatyr and Oaf stylized as national folk songs.

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Tolstoy was struck by the description of Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu ascetic renunciation as being the path to holiness.

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In 1884, Tolstoy wrote a book called What I Believe, in which he openly confessed his Christian beliefs.

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Tolstoy 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.

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Tolstoy received letters from American Quakers who introduced him to the non-violence writings of Quaker Christians such as George Fox, William Penn, and Jonathan Dymond.

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Tolstoy believed being a Christian required him to be a pacifist; the apparently inevitable waging of war by governments is why he is considered a philosophical anarchist.

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Later, various versions of "Tolstoy's Bible" were published, indicating the passages Tolstoy most relied on, specifically, the reported words of Jesus himself.

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Tolstoy believed that a true Christian could find lasting happiness by striving for inner perfection through following the Great Commandment of loving one's neighbor and God, rather than guidance from the Church or state.

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Tolstoy believed that the aristocracy was a burden on the poor.

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Maxim Gorky relates how Tolstoy once read this passage before him and Chekhov, and Tolstoy was moved to tears by the end of the reading.

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Tolstoy had a profound influence on the development of Christian anarchist thought.

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Tolstoy describes the state as the domination of the wicked ones, supported by brutal force.

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Tolstoy makes a searching criticism of the prejudices which are current now concerning the benefits conferred upon men by the church, the state, and the existing distribution of property, and from the teachings of Jesus he deduces the rule of non-resistance and the absolute condemnation of all wars.

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Tolstoy denounced the intervention by the Eight-Nation Alliance in the Boxer Rebellion in China, the Filipino-American War, and the Second Boer War.

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Tolstoy praised the Boxer Rebellion and harshly criticized the atrocities of the Russian, German, American, Japanese, and other troops of the Eight-Nation alliance.

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Tolstoy described the intervention as "terrible for its injustice and cruelty".

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Tolstoy was a famous sinophile, and read the works of Confucius and Lao Zi.

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Tolstoy corresponded with the Chinese intellectual Gu Hongming and recommended that China remain an agrarian nation, and not reform like Japan.

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In hundreds of essays over the last 20 years of his life, Tolstoy reiterated the anarchist critique of the state and recommended books by Kropotkin and Proudhon to his readers, while rejecting anarchism's espousal of violent revolutionary means.

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In 1908, Tolstoy wrote A Letter to a Hindu outlining his belief in non-violence as a means for India to gain independence from colonial rule.

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Tolstoy wrote to Tolstoy seeking proof that he was the author, which led to further correspondence.

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Tolstoy was impressed by the pacifist beliefs of the Doukhobors and brought their persecution to the attention of the international community, after they burned their weapons in peaceful protest in 1895.

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Tolstoy provided inspiration to the Mennonites, another religious group with anti-government and anti-war sentiments.

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In 1904, Tolstoy condemned the ensuing Russo-Japanese War and wrote to the Japanese Buddhist priest Soyen Shaku in a failed attempt to make a joint pacifist statement.

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Towards the end of his life, Tolstoy become occupied with the economic theory and social philosophy of Georgism.

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Tolstoy incorporated it approvingly into works such as Resurrection, the book that was a major cause for his excommunication.

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Tolstoy's secretive departure was an apparent attempt to escape from his wife's tirades.

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Tolstoy died of pneumonia at Astapovo railway station, after a day's train journey south.

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At around the same time, literary scholar and historian Boris Eikhenbaum – in a stark contrast from his earlier works on Tolstoy – portrayed the Russian novelist as someone whose ideas aligned with those of early utopian socialists such as Robert Owen and Henri Saint-Simon.

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The discrepancies in Eikenbaum's portrayals of Tolstoy can be attributed to the political pressure in Soviet Russia at the time: public officials pressured literary scholars to conform with party doctrine.

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Meanwhile, Tolstoy designated Vladimir Chertkov – who kept many of Tolstoy's manuscripts – as the editor of his works.

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Originally Tolstoy wanted to make the Russian people the heirs to his writings, but Russian law at the time decreed that property could only be inherited by one individual.

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Vladimir Lenin wrote several essays about Tolstoy, suggesting that a contradiction exists within his critique of Russian society.

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For both Gandhi and Tolstoy, truth is God, and since God is universal love, truth must therefore be universal love.

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