Best known for his sweeping masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy is one of the brightest lights in the literary landscape of the nineteenth century. A man of incredible skill and multidimensional talent, Tolstoy was a graceful craftsman who has been celebrated by literary giants from Joyce to Woolf, and Nabokov to Faulkner. His work was marked by exquisite realism—rich with dramatic intensity, depth, and power—as well as profound philosophical and psychological insights. The Select Works of Leo Tolstoy brings together these facets of Tolstoy’s artistry, gathering snippets of Tolstoy’s work in a variety of genres. The collection contains philosophical and religious treatises, memoirs, plays, short stories, and two of his lesser-known novels. Among the works are The Kingdom of God Is within You, which advocates nonviolent resistance and had a profound impact on such leaders as Mohandas Gandhi; What Is Art? in which Tolstoy speaks into the debate over how art is defined and valued; My Religion, where he discusses his personal religious convictions; The Awakening, one of his later novels; and a compilation of his early memoirs, Childhood. Boyhood. Youth.
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Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) was born into a well-established noble Russian family. His parents died when he was young, leaving him to be brought up by relatives. He studied law and oriental languages at Kazan University. In 1851, he and his older brother went to the Caucasus and joined the army. About this time he began writing, a labor which would be profoundly influenced by his military experiences, as well as two trips he took to Europe—one in 1857 and one in 1860. During these trips he witnessed a public execution in Paris, met Victor Hugo and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and had a number of other significant experiences which shaped his philosophical, political, and religious views, and led him to renounce his aristocratic way of life. Tolstoy died of pneumonia in 1910, leaving behind a masterful body of work.