Happy Birthday, Leo Tolstoy!

Thursday, September 09, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Anyone who has read Leo Tolstoy knows that curling up with War and Peace or Anna Karenina is no easy feat. At nearly 700 pages apiece, each novel offers adventure, history, views on social reform, morality, economics, human will, society, and of course, war and peace — but even more interesting is the man behind these works, who was born on this day in 1828.

Sketch of Leo Tolstoy at age 29, as an officer in the Crimean War
(Source: Life Magazine)

A Renaissance man, Leo Tolstoy was born into Russian nobility in Yasnaya Polyana as Count Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy, the fourth son of Count Nikolay Tolstoy. He founded a school for peasant children in 1859, served as an Arbiter of the Peace in 1861, and had thirteen children with his wife, Sophia Behrs, all while penning works considered by many authors as the most remarkable of all Russian literature. Virginia Woolf even declared Tolstoy as "[the] greatest of all novelists."

Audrey Hepburn as Natasha Rostova in the film adaptation of Tolstoy’s “War and Pace”
(Source: Life Magazine)

200 years later, Tolstoy’s writing ranges far and wide in its influence, and his stories have been adapted into film, opera, plays, radio, and television. His wisdom continues to persist throughout the years, such as poignant quotations like "Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them" and the aphorism, "the sole meaning of life is to serve humanity."

To celebrate Tolstoy today, make yourself a cup of kvass and check out some of his works on Google Books in full view, including War and Peace, Boyhood, Anna Karenina, as well as some of his short stories.

С Днем Рождения! (that is, happy birthday Leo Tolstoy!)


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