Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (9 September [recorded as Old style Julian calendar as 28 August] 1828 – 20 November [O.S. 7 November] 1910), usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian novelist regarded as one of the greatest of all time.
He is best known for War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). He first achieved literary acclaim in his 20s with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852–1856), and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), based upon his experiences in the Crimean War. Tolstoy’s fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, and Hadji Murad. He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.
War and Peace has over 400,000 words, but that doesn’t make Tolstoy the greatest novelist according to some; yet even the most awarded and accomplished novelists call him that. James Joyce looked up to him, Virginia Woolf declared him the greatest novelist ever.
Nabokov, Chekov, Proust, Faulkner all sung his praises. There is hardly a criticism in the novelists’ book. And it is Anna Karenina that most of these authors believe to be his best masterpiece, not the sprawling War and Peace that many have come to know him by.
Did You Know?..
He gave away his wealth.
Tolstoy had just come off a huge financial hit with Anna Karenina. He started to rake in the cash and was making money like a good Russian noble ought to during that time. And he had done it all through writing.
Except Tolstoy couldn’t abide by his Christian values and keep all that money to himself. He gave up most of his fortune, often to local beggars. It drove his wife, Sofya, to rejection. She had gone into their marriage believing she had married a comfortable and wealthy noble only to be subjected to Tolstoy’s constant and nearly complete charity. Tolstoy eventually left home to travel and he became a wandering ascetic.
For this and other interesting facts including a great link with the Anna Karenina train station visit – http://www.writinggooder.com/2013/04/the-six-six-things-you-didnt-know-about-leo-tolstoy/