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Leo Count Tolstoy

                   1828-1910, Russian novelist and philosopher. Of a noble
                   family, he was orphaned at nine and brought up by
                   aunts. He left the university without a degree and
                   returned to his family estate, Yasnaya Polyana, where he
                   tried to aid and educate the serfs.

                   After a profligate
                   period in Moscow and St. Petersburg, he joined his
                   brother, an officer, in the Caucasus (1851). In 1852 he
                   enlisted. Childhood (1852), part of an autobiographical
                   trilogy that includes Boyhood (1854) and Youth (1857),
                   was his first published work. Leaving the army in 1855,
                   he lived alternately on his estate and in St. Petersburg.

                   In 1862 he married Sophia Andreyevna Bers, a young,
                   well-educated girl, who bore him 13 children. War and
                   Peace, his first masterpiece, appeared in 1863-69. An
                   epic of the Napoleonic invasion, it illustrates Tolstoy's
                   view that history proceeds inexorably to its own ends.

                   Anna Karenina (1875-77), his second masterpiece, is a
                   tragedy of adultery with profound social and spiritual
                   dimensions. Around 1876 Tolstoy underwent a crisis
                   culminating in his conversion to a doctrine of Christian
                   love, nonviolent acceptance of evil, and renunciation of
                   wealth.

                   He devoted the rest of his life to practicing and
                   propagating his faith, expounded in such works as What
                   I Believe (1884). He considered wrong such institutions
                   as the government and church; he was excommunicated
                   in 1901, but his fame protected him from serious state
                   interference. Moral issues are central to his later works,
                   notably The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), a story; The
                   Power of Darkness (1886), a drama; and the novel
                   Resurrection (1899).

                   In the essay What Is Art? (1898) he
                   argued that the artist is morally bound to create works
                   understandable to most people, and denounced his own
                   earlier works. In 1910 a breach with his family caused
                   Tolstoy to leave home; he died a few days later.
 
 

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