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Influence on World Literature

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Life of Leo Tolstoy
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Tolstoy's Themes
Theme Analysis
Tolstoy's Imagery
Tolstoy's Writing Style
Tolstoy's Literary Devices
What Critics Write
Topics of Related Interest
Helpful Resources for Students
Writers Influenced by Leo Tolstoy
Influences on World Literature
Literary Movements
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A Glance at Tolstoy's Masterpieces
Leo Tolstoy's Quotes
Works Cited

     In spite of his sad start, Leo Tolstoy went on to produce many great works of literature and got much acclaim. In Tolstoy’s fictional works, Russian society comes alive. Reading his realistic works will carry the reader precisely into Russian life. “Childhood”, “Boyhood” and “Youth” were Tolstoy's first. These books are noted for their worldwide significance to growing up. In “Sevastapol Sketches”, he tells of his years as a second lieutenant during the Crimean War. This stage of his life made him a peace lover. “The Cossacks”, though never finished, gives insight into Cossack life and was said to be one of the greatest texts in the Russian language.

     Tolstoy's best known and most celebrated novel is War and Peace. This wide-ranging, yet harmonious writing includes more than 1000 characters, fictional and historical. Covering great distances and settings, the novel truly examines Leo Tolstoy's own theory of history. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is said to be one of his most complicated and stylish works, very beautifully constructed. Telling parallel stories, this novel carries people on a voyage. Resurrection, Tolstoy's final novel, gives readers a look into his views of life and religion. ("World Renowned Russian Author Leo Tolstoy.")

     Contemporaries of Tolstoy held him in high regard. In fact, he was even compared to Shakespeare by Gustave Flaubert. Over the years, literary critics and other fine novelists have remarked on the greatness of Leo Tolstoy's novels. Leo Tolstoy's writings are filled with passion, careful thought and beautiful language, a real treat to readers.

     Among Tolstoy's shorter works, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is usually classified among the best examples of the novella.

     Most readers will agree with the evaluation of the 19th-century British poet and critic Matthew Arnold that a novel by Tolstoy is not a work of art but a piece of life; the 20th-century Russian author Isaak Babel remarked that, if the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy. Critics of various schools have established that in some way Tolstoy's works seem to avoid all artifice. What another novelist would describe as a single act of consciousness, Tolstoy convincingly breaks down into a series of infinitesimally small steps. According to the English writer Virginia Woolf, who took for granted that Tolstoy was “the greatest of all novelists,” these observational powers elicited a kind of fear in readers, who “wish to escape from the gaze which Tolstoy fixes on us.” ("Tolstoy, Leo.")