Tolstoy Leo 1828 - 1910 (82)

If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.


A Confession

Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 - November 20, 1910 was a great Russian writer and moral thinker. Both his parents belonged to aristocratic families, his father as an officer took part in the wars against Napoleon, his mother was a princess, the daughter of a high-ranking official. Leo was born on their huge estate near Moscow, at the age of 2 he lost his mother and at 9 his father. He was raised by relatives and by French and German teachers. In 1844 he enrolled first in the school of philosophy and then in law, but he did not show much zeal and did not complete his studies. In 1847 he returned to his paternal estate to take over the management of the vast fortune but after a year he left others in his place and went to Moscow and St. Petersburg where he lived for 3 years with worldly pleasures, dances, feasts, hunting. He often felt remorse for this empty life and began writing an autobiographical work describing his mental state. In 1851 he enlisted as a volunteer in the army to escape the ravages of Muscovite upper society. He stayed for 3 years in the Caucasus where he spent some time in self-isolation and came in contact with himself but also with villagers, gathering material for his subsequent writings.

In 1854 he experienced the siege of Sevastopol as a fighter and observer, wrote a trilogy on the subject which was published in 1856 to the delight of Tsar Alexander II. He became known in literary circles and took the opportunity to attack the established views, shouting that it is not possible for some to starve and for others to have incredible wealth. He went to his estate to put words into practice; he wanted to free his slaves but they did not accept it as they expected something more drastic from the government, such as redistribution of land. In 1857 he resigned from the army and traveled abroad; when he returned, he had formed the opinion that it was important to educate the villagers. He founded on his estate a school for young and old where he even taught. He traveled again to Europe in the following years, exiled himself for some time to Samara, met a 17-year-old middle-class girl in 1861, married her in 1862, had with her 14 children.

In 1863 he finished his short story "The Cossacks", in which he depicted the people and nature of the Caucasus and from 1863 to 1869 he wrote the novel "War and Peace", one of the leading achievements of realistic prose, in which Life and conditions in Russia during the Napoleonic Wars are masterfully depicted. In his other monumental novel, "Anna Karenina" (1873), he describes, among other things, the tragedy of a woman who, driven by love, falls victim to an inhuman and ruthless society. After "Anna Karenina", Tolstoy went through a deep crisis of conscience that brought him to the brink of suicide. The deaths of his seventh and eighth children and a few other relatives contributed to it, but above all it was the doubt that had consumed him for years, about whether he had the right to live such a beautiful individual life when there was no hope for a better life. for so many people. He sought a way out of a particular personal religious belief and trying to live free from conventions and comforts. He renounced well-being and false culture, cultivated the land, dressed like a musician, began to argue that one should live with naturalness, love, and truth, and proclaimed meekness as the essence of the teaching of Jesus, which he considered spiritual child of God and not Godman. In works such as "The Death of Ivan Ilyich", "Master and Slave", "What do I believe", "So what can we do" he manifests this special religiosity coming into conflict with the Russian Church which finally dedicates him in 1901. Along with his religious differences, Tolstoy formed a new conception of art, which in his opinion should promote and realize the ideal of human kindness and brotherhood. I