Лев Н. Толстой

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Лев Николаевич Толстой [Leo N. Tolstoy] (1828—1910) is my no. 1 favourite writer. He became my no. 1 favourite writer even before I ever read any of his works considered most famous, such as War and Piece and Anna Karenina. For Tolstoy to captivate me for a lifetime, it was enough for me to read the first few opening paragraphs of his Childhood, which is the introductory volume of his fabulous trilogy ChildhoodBoyhoodYouth.

I'd never read any of Tolstoy as a young person – only in my adult years, after I'd learned enough Russian to be able to read his books in original Russian. And not just any original Russian: I always strive to find reliable Tolstoy editions from the pre-Soviet era (that is, from Tolstoy's own lifetime), ideally released under Tolstoy's personal auspices (such as the Chertkov edition). I do not consider the commonly referenced, 90-volume "academic" edition of his complete works (Polnoye sobranie...), released over several decades by the Soviet Union's communist government, to be a reliable text edition, and I never read Tolstoy in those text versions. They appear to me to be willfully "modernized", cut short, reorganized or "re-sampled" to suit the questionable tastes of his posthumous editors whose potential ideological motives must not be discounted. Indeed, Tolstoy's writings suffered a lot at the hands of both Czarist and Communist censors.

The best book I've read in my life so far (2014) is Tolstoy's categorized collection of both his own pronouncements and his favourite quotations from works by other writers, titled The Path of Life, comprehensively laying out his philosophy of life. It was practically only completed in the final year of his life – perhaps in the final moments of his life, as he lay dying in a railway station. I don't agree with everything Tolstoy has ever said, early or late in his life (indeed, he renounced his own works such as War and Piece and Anna Karenina following his "religious turnaround" that occurred when he was over 50 years old), but Tolstoy's views on life, philosophy, and religion are very close to me.

That is not surprising, seeing as both myself and Tolstoy are fond of earlier philosophers and writers such as Socrates/Plato, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Emerson.

Collections of Leo Tolstoy Quotations Already Available

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