Tolstoy, Leo, Count: Later Life and Works
Later Life and Works
About 1876 the doubts that had beset Tolstoy since youth, fed by his puritan temperament in conflict with his sensuality, gathered force. The result of his painful self-examination was his conversion to the doctrine of Christian love and acceptance of the principle of nonresistance to evil. The steps in his conversion are set forth in his
Tolstoy preached nonviolence and a Rousseauistic simplicity of life. He was an anarchist to the extent that he considered wrong all organizations based on the premise of force, including both the government and the church. A Tolstoy cult grew up in Russia and abroad, and his estate became a place of pilgrimage. Because of his prestige the government did not interfere with his activities, although the Russian Church excommunicated him in 1901.
Moral questions are central to Tolstoy's later works, which include the story “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” (1884), the drama
Tolstoy's insistence on putting his beliefs into practice and abandoning all earthly goods led to a permanent breach between himself and his wife. His children, with the exception of the youngest daughter, Alexandra, sided with their mother. In 1910, at 83, Tolstoy left home with Alexandra without a specific destination. He caught a chill and died at the railroad stationmaster's house at Astapovo.
Sections in this article:
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Russian and Eastern European Literature: Biographies