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Essay/Term paper: I am tolstoy, but not a tolstoyian

Essay, term paper, research paper:  High School Essays

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In 1828, somewhere in the countryside north of Moscow,

Leo Tolstoy was born into the Russian nobility. Count

Tolstoy, although acquainted with the finer things that life

had to offer, new that the Romantic view of the world was

false early in his life. His mother left this world when he was

two, and his father undoubtedly told horrific stories of the

chaotic Napoleonic Wars. This, coupled with the

consecutive deaths of not only his father, but his favorite

aunts and grandmother, all before his twenty-first birthday,

a three year stint in the military during the Crimean war, and

the works of masters such as Rousseau, Voltaire, Hegel,

Darwin, Dickens, Gogol, and the New Testament

contributed to the literary genius which is Tolstoy.

As a realist, Tolstoy was committed to truthfully

representing reality in literature. As a founder of a

socio-religious movement, aptly named Tolstoyism, his goal

was to enlighten the masses. The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a

prime example of the merger of these two ideals. At first

glance this is a simple tale of a "most simple and most

ordinary and therefore most terrible" man"s life and death

(1208). But upon closer scrutiny, we see that this is a

stylized account of the Count"s own life.

Much like Ivan, the Count married a younger wife, not so

much out of love, as out of convenience. After a few years

of marital bliss, problems arose. Both men tried to separate

home and work, with the disastrous results of neglecting

their wives. Although ideally matched socially, these two

couple"s argued about everything from work and politics,

to the children not eating their food fast, or slow enough.

When Ivan dies, his wife wraps up his affairs, as best she

can. Tolstoy, however, made out his will well before his

death in 1910, and interestingly enough, leaves his wife of

over 50 years relatively little of his possessions.

Another similarity between the Count and the Judge is their

deaths. Ivan"s "floating kidney," or "appendicitis,"

depending on the doctor, caused him great pain and

discomfort for the last couple years of his life. Towards the

end, he refused to see any doctors, and finally had a

revelation. Tolstoy died the death of an eighty-two year old

man. His last year was spent confined to a few rooms in his

home, and refused also to see a doctor. Where Ivan"s

revelation of life occurred during the last days of his life,

Tolstoy"s occurred somewhere around 1877, following the

deaths of his 7th, 8th, and 9th children in infancy. Both,

however, came up with the same conclusion: a materialistic

and self-centered life is not a good one. Only when your

life has an unselfish, community minded purpose is it worth

living. And with "forgive me" on their lips, they died.


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