10 famous works of Tolstoy (Tula, 1828; Lipetsk, 1910)
His long and hectic life is as memorable as his literary work. The count who lost his parents at an early age was born on August 28, 1828 and since then he began a search that led him to experience the horrors of war, carnal vices, isolation and asceticism, all to respond to a single question: what path should man take to happiness?
He transit them all due to the influence of Nicolás, his older brother, who infected him with his desire to change the world. Tolstoy had great distractions during his youth. When in 1844 he entered the university, he would only graduate from libertine and player. His excesses rewarded him with a gonorrhea from which he had a slow recover.
Social injustices had already moved him to the core, but what he saw at twenty-six on the battlefield showed him how far man’s ambition was capable. His experiences in Crimea would take him to the top of the Russian realist novel. War and peace assures him a pulpit from which he would be heard with interest by his contemporaries. His essays, his spirituality and pacifist ideas would leave a mark on future characters and historical events. But that stance against violence would not clash with his anarchism, which aimed directly at the Government and the Church in his country. The influence of this rebellion gave him a worldwide reputation comparable to that of a rock star.
Leo Tolstoy, as contradictory as he was, died at the doors of the Russian Revolution and did not find in family life, wealth or prestige the liberation of his turbulent soul.
10 famous works of Tolstoy
1. Childhood (St. Petersburg, 1852)
Tolstoy set out to make a premature account of his life and publishes the first part of his autobiography novel in the magazine The contemporary. It appeared with the name of history of my childhood and in this one he emphasize the pages dedicated to his deceased mother and to the first bonds that established in Yásnaia Polania, the familiar cottage where he was born, time that would turn it, in equal parts, into a introspective and vehement man.
2. Boyhood (St. Petersburg, 1854)
Although he names the main character of his memoirs as Nicolás, this second installment of the trilogy shows the germ of his future philosophical thought. Despite the uprooting caused by the death of his parents, the solitary young man tries to find balance by seeking spiritual purity, the first step for the purpose he would pursue until the day of his death: help make the world a place where love triumphs.
3. Sevastopol Sketches (St. Petersburg, 1855)
A chronicle in three parts about the days when he accompanied the imperial army to the Crimean peninsula, material that later served him to write his most ambitious fiction. It begins with his arrival at the station of Sebastopol in December of 1854 and his first observations already emphasize the moral misery that he finds, besides the vision of mutilated and dying people, which will get worse with the passing of the months. These short stories make up a valuable thesis about the absurdity of war.
4. Youth (St. Petersburg, 1856)
When Nicolás enters the Moscow University, those ideals that are supposed to guide his behavior end up exploding in his hands. It is impossible for him to drive himself propertly in reality, which means a new and revealing break for him. The culmination of his early memories reveals the restlessness of a young man who would soon tire of academic confinement to devote himself to the pilgrim’s spiritual cultivation.
5. Conjugal happiness. (St. Petersburg, 1859)
After leaving school, Tolstoy got the idea of getting married, establishing a relationship that gives him balance and helps him mature and become a useful human being. But before taking that step he imagined the idyll between Masha and Sergei, characters with almost nothing in common, united by a marriage that time would modulate. A story from the point of view of the protagonist that shows the different stages of love, what is lost and won on the road.
6. The Cossacks (St. Petersburg, 1863)
A young nobleman, bored with the monotony and dissolute life that Moscow offers him, decides to make a long trip to the Caucasus and enlists in the Army to join a Cossack village. Thus, cadet Olenin finds in the countryside and the mountains enough tranquility to reflect on what he could not focus on while he was the spoiled heir of a rich family in the city. Based on their own experiences, this short novel is not free of conflicts, the armed and the amorous.
7. War and peace (St. Petersburg, 1865-1869)
The later literature would not have been the same without this extensive epic that when talking about war refers to everything a man is, was and will be. It is framed towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars, 1812, and follows with the same realism the squandering and superficiality of the life of the Russian aristocrats and what the soldiers suffered in the infernal battlefield. The two sides of human decadence are put face to face in this unforgettable story released by deliveries, full of subplots and characters that dazzled their contemporaries as much as we do.
8. Anna Karenina (St. Petersburg, 1875-1877)
An overwhelming success in its time for a story that has not lost validity or interest more than a hundred years of being published. Anna is a young woman who seems to have achieved everything after getting married, but who suffers in silence because her apparent perfect life only covers her growing unhappiness, the same one that Tolstoy exposes while criticizing the dizzying upper class of Russia of the nineteenth century. Despite basically telling a love story, it is remarkable the handling of suspense and how this leads to the great outcome.
9. The death of Iván Ilich (St. Petersburg, 1886)
Shall we live according to our own rules or accept that we must meet the expectations of the world? Should we try to be happy or just accept our destiny and fill the space we have reserved? These are the issues that arise in the head of Ivan Ilych on his deathbed and the writer himself hovered with almost sixty years. The central story is a review of his life, by what took him to the unexpected accident that would trigger his end and makes him conclude that he wasted time. A short novel but with an enormous existentialist charge that makes it essential in its bibliography.
10. The kingdom of God is Within You (Germany, 1894)
The philosophical side of the writer embroiders the pages of this essay about the interpretation that makes Christianity, more than a cluster of sublime ideas, a practical guide to conduct. What did not like the religious and political authorities of that time and what ended up censored and excommunicated, something that took as a personal triumph. It is famous the influence that this text had on the Indian thinker Mahatma Gandhi and his peaceful resistance to achieve the liberation of his country.