Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy is the greatest representative of Russian literature and world classics, a master of psychology and a world-renowned philosopher. Tolstoy's biography covers 82 years of vivid creative and personal life. During this time, the writer managed to change several places of residence, create a number of world-famous literary masterpieces, and leave several philosophical works to posterity.

In this review from the Geomerid web-site, you can explore the creative path in detail, as well as find links to all the iconic sights from the life of Leo Tolstoy. This is part of the cultural heritage, which could be interesting for visits.


Yasnaya Polyana: birth, early years

The author of "Anna Karenina" was born on August 28, 1828 in Yasnaya Polyana. Leo Nikolaevich, the fourth child in the family, on his father's side belongs to the noble family of Tolstoy, who were in the service of tsars Ivan the Terrible and Peter I. The relationship of the mother derived from the Royal dynasty of Rurik. The facts of Tolstoy's biography also connect him with famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin through a common ancestor, the famous Admiral Fedor Golovin.
Already in early childhood, the writer had to face a cruel reality.

His mother, Maria Nikolaevna Volkonskaya, died in childbirth when Leo Tolstoy was only 2 years old. Seven years later, Leo Tolstoy lost his father, Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoy. Children were forced to engage in aunts Tatiana Ergolskaya and Alexandra Osten-Sacken. The aunt Osten-Sacken soon also passed away, and in 1840 her father's sister, Pelageya Yushkova, who lived in Kazan, became his guardian.

Aunt Pelageya Yushkova is one of the key figures in the education of the writer. She mentored, trained and shaped the worldview of the future writer, which he later described in the story “Childhood", where he describes in detail the years in the Yushkov estate in Kazan. This period Tolstoy considers the most carefree in life.

Tolstoy's estate in Yasnaya Polyana was turned into a Museum in 1921 on the initiative of the writer's daughter, Alexandra Tolstoy. She was also its Director until the occupation during World war II. Today, the Museum is open to the public; the furniture is preserved how it was left by Tolstoy himself. This is one of the main Tolstoy places to visit. Here were written the greatest works of genius - "War and Peace” and" Anna Karenina”, and here is his grave.


Literary Museum in Moscow

In Tolstoy's biography, it is difficult to single out the most important thing, because it is densely filled with events. An important stage is studying at Kazan University. The future classicist received his primary education at home, but decided to continue his studies at the faculty of Oriental languages, where he entered in 1843.

It was hard for the writer at University: the study was very boring, it seemed to him that it was a waste of time. Academic performance has declined, so Tolstoy decides to transfer to law school. Not finding success there, Leo Nikolaevich is expelled after 2 years and returns to Yasnaya Polyana.

One of the most changeable creators is Leo Tolstoy. The biography of the writer indicates the impermanence of his nature. He is thrown from side to side. Disillusioned with himself and the landowner's way of life, Tolstoy goes first to Moscow, where he spends the winter, and from there to St. Petersburg. The main goal is to finish the University and pass the candidate exams. However, he quickly gets involved in high society life, makes a lot of debts due to an addiction to card games.

At the same time, he realizes that he wants to become a writer. To get acquainted with the scale of his work, it is best to visit the Tolstoy Literary Museum in Moscow. It was opened in 1911, a year after the writer's death. The exhibition consists of several rooms where the stages of his work are described in chronological order. His main works are also described here. A special place is given to the epic novel "War and Peace". Here you can also see numerous portraits of the writer and his family, sculptures. The Tolstoy Museum regularly hosts readings of the writer's works, chamber concerts and conferences, where you can often meet famous literary critics and modern writers.


Tolstoy in the service: "Childhood” and "Sevastopol stories”

In 1851, on the advice of his brother, Tolstoy went to the Caucasus. The main reason is the desire to reduce costs to a minimum and stop the pernicious passion for card games.  He had a lot of debt. In the autumn of this year, Leo Tolstoy passes exams in Tiflis (modern Tbilisi) and enters the school of junkers of the 4th battery of the 20th artillery brigade. Her camp was located in the village of Starogladovskaya on the banks of the Terek River, near the town of Kizlyar.

The writer admires the Patriarchal way of life and the picturesque nature of these places, which he writes about in his novels “Cossacks” and “Hadji Murad”. Here Leo Nikolaevich creates the story "Childhood“ and sends it for publication in the magazine ”Sovremennik" with a note that in case of refusal, he will stop doing what he likes. However, the editors liked the story, so Leo Tolstoy creates "Boyhood” and "Youth", eventually receiving a trilogy.

In 1854, the writer was sent to serve in Sevastopol, where there are fierce military operations of Crimea war. Leo Tolstoy, whose complicated biography threw him into the heart of the battles, boldly takes command of one of the batteries, and later writes about his impressions in “Sevastopol stories”. The writer's creation impressed critics, even the Emperor Alexander II himself admired the talent, noting the subtle psychologism in the description of archetypal Russian characters.

In Sevastopol, in honor of the military feat and genius of the writer, a granite stele with the inscription “to the Great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy — a participant in the defense of Sevastopol on the 4th Bastion, 1854-1855" is installed. Although Tolstoy himself did not like traveling, we still advise you to go to this city if you are interested in the writer's life and the history of Russia.


Return to Yasnaya Polyana: peasant schools

In 1855, after the defense of Sevastopol, Tolstoy returned to St. Petersburg. He was warmly welcomed in the creative circle “Sovremennik", placing high hopes on his literary skills. By that time, the writer had already tasted a measured life in the Caucasus; high-society became alien to him. Leo Tolstoy did not like tourism: he was not at all impressed by his travels in Europe, and even bored, as he writes in his diaries. Upon his return, he decides to return to Yasnaya Polyana to work closely with the creative work and the peasants.

Having settled in the family estate, Tolstoy is actively engaged in education. In 1860, he went on a trip to Europe in order to learn teaching experience for their schools. In total, the writer opened 22 schools around his estate near Tula.
A special place in the work of the writer is occupied by children's stories and novellas. He even wrote a training manual “ABC", and 4 volumes of pedagogical advice for teachers. It also includes instructive stories, novellas, and epics.


Borodino field Museum: "War and Peace”

In 1863, the writer begins work on novel "War and Peace". This is the happiest period in Tolstoy's life. He had been married for a year to Sophia Burns, who became his chief assistant. The wife copied and edited manuscripts, and created a work-friendly environment.

It seems that the main idea of the novel is to describe the life and fate of the Russian people during the War of 1812 with Napoleon army. However, in his diaries, Tolstoy claims that this is a protest against hostility, this is a treatise of pacifism. The novel has chapters on peaceful family life, as well as a detailed description of battle scenes.

The detail and accuracy of the description of the battle scenes amazes literary critics to this day. Tolstoy went to Borodino field for inspiration and information, where he stayed in a small hotel at the Spaso-Borodino monastery. He collects information: talks to veterans, makes detailed drawings of the area at Borodino field.

Now it houses the Museum of Leo Tolstoy on the Borodino field. The main theme of the Museum is the epic novel "War and Peace". A separate exhibition contains manuscripts, sketches and drawings that give a complete picture of how the work on the great creation of the genius took place.

Despite the fact that the epic novel was well received by critics, Tolstoy himself was not happy with his creation, repeatedly calling it “wordy rubbish”. According to modern estimates, the cult work of the writer was filmed more than 40 times, and theatrical productions are not counted at all.


Tolstoy's estate Museum in Khamovniki

In 1862, at the age of 34, Leo Tolstoy married Sophia Burns. She and her family were on vacation near Yasnaya Polyana. The couple were married for 42 years, but their relationship can not be called happy. The writer was constantly depressed, dissatisfied with the life he had created for himself.

Leo Tolstoy, whose interesting biography confronts him with many vicissitudes of fate, is a hostage to his psychological state. He manages to subtly feel and describe the internal structure of people, but he could not understand himself.
In 1882, the writer bought an estate in Khamovniki to be closer to the city and quietly spend hours rummaging through the archives in search of material for new works, as well as to provide older children with access to the best universities. Tolstoy lived here for 20 years. They went to Yasnaya Polyana for the summer, but returned every time after that, because he had to work.

Initially, the house did not have electricity, heating, or water, so Tolstoy completely transferred the estate to himself. There were 16 rooms, 10 stoves. On the ground floor there was a spacious dining room, a Tolstoy bedroom, and a children's room. On the second floor there was a living room for receiving guests. The family was often visited by Chekhov, Rachmaninoff, Chaliapin and other famous people.

After the writer's death, the estate passed to the Moscow city Council, and a Museum was immediately opened here. In 1920, the house was restored, but the furniture is completely preserved. A remarkable workroom of Tolstoy: a massive furniture, simple design. This is where the writer worked on his treatises.

In search of answers to eternal questions, Tolstoy turns to the Orthodox Church. He becomes disillusioned with its structure, and in 1883 opens the publication “Mediator”, where he openly conflicts with the Church and criticizes its spiritual foundations and ideals. He not only writes philosophical treatises about the meaning of life ("Confession”, "About Hunger", "What is my faith?”), but also completely reworks the Gospel, cutting out parts from it that he did not agree with.


Station Museum of Leo Tolstoy

As а result of Leo Tolstoy's educational activities, a whole society appears - tolstoyism. The writer is writing a novel “Sunday”. In the novel, he speaks sharply about the judicial system, the army and the government, not forgetting to criticize the Church. The response was not long in coming: in 1901, Tolstoy was excommunicated from the Church. Despite this, as a thinker and philosopher, Tolstoy was recognized as the spiritual and religious leader of the country. Several times he was nominated for the Nobel prize in literature, which, however, he did not want to receive.

Meanwhile, relations in the family are heating up. Tolstoy was haunted by the idea of giving up the goods he had acquired and distributing everything to the peasants. Sophia barely managed to dissuade her husband from this venture, but the General mood of the writer did not change. He forced his wife and children to wear simple clothes that he made himself; they had to give up all worldly pleasures and lead an ascetic life.

Sophia Burns tried to distract herself from her problems by studying music. She took lessons from a Moscow teacher, for whom she had feelings. Nothing happened, they remained friends, but Tolstoy held a grudge against his wife.
In 1910, Tolstoy leaves home after a huge quarrel with his wife. He leaves a note saying that he can't do anything else. He first visited the Optina Pustyn monastery with his daughter Alexandra and doctor Dusan Makovitsky, and then continued his journey to Central Russia.

On the way, the writer fell ill with pneumonia, and he had to stop at the Astapovo station. Stationmaster Ivan Ozolin provided Tolstoy with his home, where the writer spent the last seven days. Tolstoy's wife came here, but Tolstoy did not want to see her. On November 7, 1910, the writer died of pneumonia. The body was moved for burial in Yasnaya Polyana.

The grave of Leo Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana is striking in its modesty. He bequeathed himself to be buried in an alley in the woods of his estate. There are no tombstones, it is not decorated in any way – only a small hill covered with grass. This grave makes a strong impression.

From the travel point of view the village Leo Tolstoy (Lipetsk region) is notable: its attractions with a story about the last days of the writer are located here. Since 1918, the railway station “Astapovo” and the village of the same name has been named after the Russian writer. Now there is a Museum of the writer. In the House of the stationmaster of Astapovo Station, where he spent the last days, everything was left as it was at the time of Leo Tolstoy's death. Even the hand of the clock on the station building is stopped at the moment when the heart of the genius stopped beating (6:05). In the evening of November 7, 1910, a memorial plaque was installed here.

In the village of Leo Tolstoy, Lipetsk region, there are other attractions associated with the life of the writer. In 2010, on the 100th anniversary of his death, a memorial and literary Museum was opened here, which was named "Astapovsky Meridian: on the threshold of eternity". Here you will discover the secrets of the last days of the writer, as well as his complex creative path.

Tolstoy Lev Nikolaevich left us memorable places that, along with his works, perpetuate the spirit of a recognized genius. If you love his work, you can create routes on the site of Geomerida to Tolstoy places and go on an educational journey.