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Leo Tolstoy Biography

Leo Tolstoy Biography

Research papers on Leo Tolstoy are common because he is considered the greatest Russian writer of all time. The writers at Paper Masters will write on any of his works or do a biographical study of his life, Russia at the time of his writings or any information regarding Tolstoy that is needed to be written. Tolstoy's novel War and Peace has been called the greatest novel ever written by some.

The following are some facts about Leo Tolstoy:

  • Born - August 28, 1828
  • Born in Tula Province Russia
  • Died in Astapovo Russia on November 9th, 1910
  • Russian Name - Lev Nikolayevich

Tolstoy's early life was marked by fact he was the youngest of four boys and raised without his mother or father for much of his life. Educated only at home until he went to university in 1843, Tolstoy was only an average student. Eventually he failed out of college, as his major in oriental studies proved to be too difficult for him.

Tolstoy returned to the town he was born in and attempted to become a farmer and mentor to the serfs that worked for him. However, Tolstoy was a poor business man and worker, and failed at farmer also. These failures turned Tolstoy inward and he began examining his life through diary entries that he wrote until the day he died. When critics read his diaries after his death, it was discovered that much of his fictional work came from the material he wrote about in his diaries.

When Tolstoy was 34 he married an 18 year old girl and found great happiness in life. He also was able to blossom in his work during this happy time and he wrote War and Peace. Since his marriage showed him the life of aristocracy, Tolstoy was able to reflect on the social issues of the time made his writing extremely popular. In 1877 Tolstoy finished Anna Karenina and it became a sensational success.

Tolstoy's early success made him miserable in his later years. From the mid-19th century to the end of the monarchy, Pan-Slavs were an influential party in the government, army, and press and Tolstoy had occasional run-ins with them. Those who supported this ideology, e.g. they were highly critical of the epilogue of Anna Karenina when it came out in 1878, but he was influenced by the same slavophile sentiments that, as part and parcel of European nationalist movements in general, were a prominent part of the climate of opinion and thought in Russia during the 19th century. The Russian "natural", the de-Russianized, French-speaking aristocracy of the past equals "artificial," were equations seen many times in War and Peace. In fact, these equations can be seen at work even in Tolstoy's descriptions of the aristocrats. One instance occurs in the episode where Natasha Rostov dances the "shawl dance" at "Uncle's" in the seventh chapter of the seventh book of the novel. Here Tolstoy remarks that the young countess, "educated by an emigree French governess," had, "imbibed from the Russian air," the "spirit and the movements," of the dance that were, "inimitable and unteachable Russian ones".

The slavophile tendencies of the mid-19th century were present in Tolstoy's time and the way in which he looks back into history reflects this. We may assume that Tolstoy expects his audience to see his characters in the same way that he does, as being relics of a past, people who have been by-passed by a more modern world in which, however autocratic the Romanov monarchy remains, there is a possibility for progress into a more liberal future that is not constrained by the utterly conservative forces that doomed reform in the time of Alexander I. The reforms of the 1860s are different, more substantive, than the liberal muddleings of Alexander I's reign and they accomplish more than Speransky's sweeping (Tolstoy seems too hard on Speransky in War and Peace), but still-born, proposals did, proposals which were doomed by the opposition of just those types of people.

But, quite apart from the nationalistic content of Tolstoy's antagonists, there is something more pervasively negative about that view. Tolstoy was an aristocrat, but he was an "outsider" among the aristocrats and his disgust with the upper crust goes well beyond the slavic-versus-Frenchified aristocracy paradigm. In The Death of Ivan Ilych he wrote about people in his own time-present, people who were not archaic as Scherer and Kuragin were, people who were members of the professional class, not the class of landed aristocrats. He was just as negative about Ivan Ilych and his circle as he was about Scherer and Kuragin. Leo Tolstoy was an alienated man and, to a certain degree, that alienation was personal and idiosyncratic. However, it is also the case that alienation among the intelligentsia of Europe was something "in the wind" at that time. It can be seen in Dostoyevsky and, outside of Russia, it can be seen in a host of the more exotic writers spawned by, or stimulated by, the Romantic movement, Baudelaire and Lautremont, for example, being two.

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