Leo Tolstoy

by Jess from Spokane

Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy

As an education major with an emphasis in English, it is no surprise that my hero is Leo Tolstoy. Leo was born on September 9, 1828 in Yasnaya Polyana, a city about 200 kilometers from Moscow, Russia. Later in life he became a skilled writer, and somewhat of a celebrity. However, he did not really like all of the attention, which is one reason that I admire him (Tolstoy's, 2000).

Leo has written many works that are praised by many. His most famous is War and Peace, which is a historical fiction novel including Napoleon, and Alexander the Great, as well as Tolstoy’s own theory on history. The novel is praised for its realistic qualities in spite of the fact that most of it is fictionalized. Tolstoy also wrote a book called Anna Karenina, which he considers to be his own greatest work. The book reflects his views on the value of marriage during a time when marriage was beginning to lose its value.

A copy of his book, War and Peace
A copy of his book, War and Peace

I admire Leo Tolstoy for his literary genius as do most people who care about that sort of thing. However, I chose him as my hero because he stood up for what he believed in, and in big ways. When Leo saw that peasants were being enslaved he knew it was wrong, and he decided to build a school and educate them. He let them choose the subjects, and he taught. He pointed out that the upper class could learn as much from peasants as peasants could learn from the upper class. Because of Tolstoy, a number of peasants received an education, and were given value otherwise not attributed. At one point Tolstoy noticed that the peasants had so little, and yet they were so happy compared to the wealthy. I had a similar observation when I interacted with people in poverty.

Tolstoy left the world with some great literature and some great ideas. Many of his ideas concerning peace influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

Related Links

Correspondence between Tolstoy and Gandhi - Wikisource
Wikipedia-Leo Tolstoy - A biography of Tolstoy's life
Tolstoy's Life and Works - Tolstoy's Life