9 Sep 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Tolstoy!

Today, in 1828, was born Leo Tolstoy - one of the greatest writers and philosophers of all time. A master of realistic fiction, Tolstoy was critically acclaimed in his early 20s with the semi-autobiographical trilogy Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth, which are now a must-read at Russian schools.

Tolstoy was anti-government and anti-church, as the authority of both he greatly contested. As a result, he was watched by the Russian secret police most of his life, and, at the end of it, he also got excommunicated from the Russian Orthodox Church (in 1901).

He was a complicated persona full of paradoxes and extravagant habits. Coming from a noble family (Tolstoy was referred as Count Tolstoy in the society), the writer liked to plough and sweat working hard in the fields among the common people and farmworkers, which constituted a solid slice of then Russian society. Tolstoy tried to understand how 'the soul of a peasant worked' but eventually gave this attempt up. Instead, he started making shoes that he gave as presents to his numerous family members. 

At the age of 18, Tolstoy began writing a diary - a habit he was faithful to his whole life. 
In honour of his birthday, Tolstoy's official web-page made public the rarest of the writer's notes - 55 diary journals, which have been kept within the Tolstoy family all this time, were digitalized so that everybody could have a better idea what kind of a person the writer really was.
You can download them here for free [only in Russian]. 

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