Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy
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Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (known in the Anglosphere as Leo Tolstoy; September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910) was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. Tolstoy is equally known for his complicated and paradoxical persona and for his extreme moralistic and ascetic views, which he adopted after a moral crisis and spiritual awakening in the 1870s, after which he also became noted as a moral thinker and social reformer.

His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. His ideas on ... more »

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  • True science investigates and brings to human perception such truths and such knowledge as the people of a given time and society consider most important. Art transmits these truths from the region of...
    Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, philosopher. repr. In Tolstoy on Art, ed. Aylmer Maude (1924). What Is Art? Ch. 10 (1898).
  • ''To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can't eat it.''
    Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, philosopher. Published in Tolstoy on Art, ed. Aylmer Maude (1924). What Is Art? Ch. 10 (1898).
  • ''All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.''
    Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, philosopher. Anna Karenina (1873-76). Opening words.
  • ''But the peasants—how do the peasants die?''
    Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, philosopher. Quoted in W. H. Auden, A Certain World, "Words, Last," (1970). Attributed last words.
  • ''The chief difference between words and deeds is that words are always intended for men for their approbation, but deeds can be done only for God.''
    Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, philosopher. Letter, February 23, 1903. Tolstoy's Letters, vol. 2 (1978).
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