Leo Tolstoy – The Greatest Russian Realist of That Time
Count Lav Nikolaevich Tolstoy (Yasnaya Polyana, September 9, 1828 – Astapovo, November 20, 1910) was a Russian writer classified as the greatest Russian realist of that time. He originated from an old aristocratic family, but he did not hold either to his aristocratic descent, to aristocratic rights, or to aristocratic manners – he was always inclined to the people, loved them, he tried his whole life to help them.
He was born at the Count’s estate in Yasnaya Polyana, where he spent most of his life, died at the Astapovo railway station during the walk at a storm, at the age of eighty. Love for people is the most important of his character, especially love for the ordinary man from the people, towards the peasant farmer, towards the Russian people. He did not go through a young aristocratic man and completed his studies and build a civil servant’s career, instead he left his studies, came to Yasnaya Polyana. He freed his peasants, shared the land, helped them, raised the school for peasant children, wrote books – pedagogical work was one of his preoccupations. He was constantly against injustice and poverty, by his personal example he showed how to erase the differences in the population – the Count helped his peoples in the plowing of the earth. He was free and appreciated freedom; he condemned the immorality of power and nobility; he supported revolutionary ideas. Because of such attitudes he came into conflict with the nobility, the authorities, the church and the family.
When the authorities arrested a professor of his school for the sagacious attitudes, Tolstoy went to the prison warden and demanded that he be arrested. The one policeman replied: “Your glory is, Count, too big and in Russia there is no dungeon that could receive it.” He was hurt by unbearable differences in society: on the one side, those who starve, on the other side, those who do almost nothing and live in abundance: “The criminals who plundered the people gathered together, gathered soldiers and judges to protect their orgies, and – the people are left no more than being robbed of their revenge.”
He wrote articles and essays on current social issues. In 1908 Tolstoy writes the tract “I can not keep it”. The Roman Church is the ultimate accolade with authority and nobility. The church turned against him and anathematized him. But he enjoyed a great reputation with the Russian people. The workers of a Moscow factory sent him a gift with the consecration: “You have been hit by the fate of many great people who are going ahead of their own age, and they were burned at the stake, destroyed in dungeons and exile, and they exclude you from what they want and how the Pharisees want – Russian people will always be proud of you, considering you as their great, loved one. ” Five thousand people went to Jasnaya Polyana after his death to bathe Leo Tolstoy, who was buried, according to his own wishes, without ritual, in a regular wooden casket.
Leo Tolstoy earned his worldly fame as a writer of hymns for his life – he was a giant in work, in spirit and in morality. He started writing at the age of twenty-four (autobiographical work Childhood, 1852) and for over sixty years of literary work he created an extensive literary opus: the jubilee edition of the entire Tolstoy works (1928-1958) includes ninety volumes. Representative titles can be extracted from this work. Autobiographical prose: Childhood (1852), Decade (1855), The Youth (1857); stories: Sevastopol stories (1855), Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886); Novels: Family Happiness (1859), War and Peace (1869), Anna Karenina (1877), Resurrection (1899), Hajji Murat (1912) and Drama: The Living Body (1904).
Leo Tolstoy carefully and studiously worked on his books. It rang a few years from the idea to the beginning of the work on the novel. He worked for a long time on his great novels (not large in size only): He worked for War and Peace for seven years, he wrote Anna Karenina for five years, and the Resurrection for ten years. Another thing is characteristic for his creative process: he worked in several versions of his novels. These versions were created during the work of the novels, before they were finally finished: Ana Karenina went through six versions, and Rat and Peace had ten versions. These facts point to the weight of the creative process, the high artistic maturity of the writer, and the strong awareness of the author’s response to the work and to the readers.