Biography of Leo Tolstoy

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Leo Nikolaivich Tolstoy was born on August 28, 1828 to Princess Marie Volkonsky and Count Nicolas Tolstoy. Tolstoy was born at Yasnaya Polyana, the Volkonsky manor house on the road to Kieff in Russia. It was here that he was to spend the majority of his adult life. Leo was the fourth and last son of the family; they also had one daughter. Tolstoy's mother died when he was 18 months old, an event that would forever affect his feelings about women and motherhood. His father died when Tolstoy was nine years old, and the children grew up with a variety of aunts. According to Tolstoy, one of those aunts, Tatiana Yergolsky, "had the greatest influence on [his] life" because she taught him "the moral joy of love." All four Tolstoy sons attended the University of Kazan. An irregular student, Tolstoy studied law, but he was more attracted by high society than by the rote learning methods employed at the University. When his brother Nicolas finished school and enlisted in the Russian military, Tolstoy took advantage of the opportunity to leave as well. He went to St. Petersburg and Moscow, where he led a debauched life and claimed in his diary that "I am living like a beast." In April 1851 Nicolas, disturbed by the direction of his brother's life, convinced him to head for the Caucasus Mountains with Nicolas' artillery division. Their journey to the Caucasus, over land and sea, was to form the backbone of Leo's 1861 novel The Cossacks. Tolstoy became a soldier and stayed in the Caucasus' for three years, where he wrote his first novel, Childhood, in the winter of 1851-1852. It was published in a leading St. Petersburg review, Sovremennik, in September 1852. The review would also serialize some of Tolstoy's later works, includingBoyhood and Youth. When the Crimean War broke out in 1853, Tolstoy was transferred to the front. During his experience with the War in Sebastopol, he had the first of many religious awakenings, believing that he needed to "create a new religion...
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