Biography of Famous Writers and Authors: Leo Tolstoy Part 1

About the famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, history and biography of the author.

Leo Tolstoi (1828-1910). Leo Tolstoi had written in his diary, "My life is some stupid and spiteful joke that someone has played on me." And now he was dying. His last words were, "This is the end . . . and it doesn't really matter." He died of pneumonia on November 20, 1910.

During his long life, Count Leo Tolstoi had been much more than the "angry young man" who turns novelist in order to change things or to better the condition of the oppressed. He was a tormented man, and his mind was plagued by the things he had done. "I put men to death," he wrote in his voluminous diary. "I fought duels to slay others, I lost at cards, wasted my substance wrung from the sweat of peasants, punished the latter cruelly, and deceived men. Lying, robbery, drunkenness, violence, murder . . . all committed by me, not one crime omitted." In other words, he had done all of the things that people expected young Russian noblemen to do, only he had a conscience and worried about it. These thoughts, combined with his overwhelming fear of dying, drove him to the verge of madness and suicide many times.

Leo Tolstoi, the author of what critics have called 2 great complete pictures of society, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, was born at his mother's ancestral home, Vasnaya Polyana. His parents had died by the time he was 10, and for much of the next 20 years he roamed the countryside gambling recklessly, drinking to excess, and, as he put it, "rioting with all sorts of loose women." He contracted syphilis and gonorrhea, and although his many faults (sexual and otherwise) tore at his brain, he never failed to take advantage of an opportunity to carouse when it was offered.

Tolstoi's earliest recollection was of pushing an older woman off the front porch of Vasnaya Polyana for unrequited love. He was 5 and the "older woman" was 10. This older woman grew up to be the mother of the hotheaded and quarrelsome girl named Sofia whom Tolstoi married on September 23, 1862.

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