Saturday, November 20, 2010
Remembering Leo Tolstoy after 100 years
Leo Tolstoy: thank you for writing the classics, "Anna Karenina," "War and Peace," "The Cossacks," "The Death of Ivan Ilyich," "Master and Man," "The Kreutzer Sonata," and "Resurrection." remembering you after 100 years, may you rest in peace!
Leo Tolstoy, or Count Lyev Nikolayevich Tolstoy; September 9 [O.S. August 28] 1828 – November 20 [O.S. November 7] 1910), was a Russian writer whom many consider to be the world's greatest novelist. His masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina represent, in their scope, breadth and vivid depiction of 19th-century Russian life and attitudes, the peak of realist fiction.
Tolstoy's further talents as essayist, dramatist, and educational reformer made him the most influential member of the aristocratic Tolstoy family. 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 nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tolstoy died of pneumonia at Astapovo station in 1910 after leaving home in the middle of winter at the age of 82. His death came only days after gathering the nerve to abandon his family and wealth and take up the path of a wandering ascetic, a path that he had agonized over pursuing for decades. He had not been at the peace off health before leaving home; his wife and daughters were all actively engaged in caring for him daily.
He had been speaking and writing of his own death in the days preceding his departure from home, but fell ill at the train station not far from home. The station master took Tolstoy to his apartment, where his personal doctors were called to the scene. He was given injections of morphine and camphor. The police tried to limit access to his funeral procession, but thousands of peasants lined the streets at his funeral. Still, some peasants were heard to say that, other than knowing that "some nobleman had died," they knew little else about Tolstoy. There is some speculation that Tolstoy was murdered with poison by his wife Sonya