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Virginia Woolf declared him the greatest of all novelists. Dostoevsky, Proust, Faulkner, Nabakov Joyce all shared this same enthusiasm for this writer. Thomas Mann once declared, “Seldom did art work so much like nature.” He wrote a novel with 580 different characters, including some real historical figures. Who was this anarchist, pacifist, christian who is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest novelists?

We’ll find out in a moment on Biography Out Loud.

Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Not only did this Russian writer change himself, but the world was never the same after his masterpiece “War and Peace”. Tolstoy was a realistic writer, trying to show the society of his time. He never thought of “War and Peace” as a novel, but told others his first novel was “Anna Karrenina” which he wrote eight years later.

Born in 1828, he toured Europe, witnessed a public execution and met with Victor Hugo and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, an anarchist living in Vienna.

On 23 September 1862, Tolstoy married Sophia Andreevna Bers, the daughter of a court physician, who was 16 years his junior. They had thirteen children, five of whom died during childhood. Their early married life was happy and allowed Tolstoy much freedom to compose the literary masterpieces “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” with Sonya acting as his secretary, proof-reader and financial manager.

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,[citation needed] a path that he had agonized over pursuing for decades. He had not been at the peak of 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, but later died. The police tried to limit access to his funeral procession, but thousands of peasants lined the streets at his funeral.

Leo Tolstoy once said, “The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.”

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