Leo Tolstoy seemed to actually almost lost his mind in the last decade of his life. He became a religious zealot and established his own sect with a very rigid dogma. What is fascinating, however, is that Mahatma Gandhi thought very highly of Tolstoy. And, of course, when Tolstoy died, hordes of people flocked to his estate out of deep reverence. And Tolstoy's remembered worldwide as one of the literary greats. It's been said, there's a fine line between madness and genius. He had a bit of both.
From the June 1986 National Geographic, "World of Tolstoy"
The only Tolstoy novel I've read. Learn about it here.
“Can it be that I have not lived as one ought?" suddenly came into his head. "But how not so, when I've done everything as it should be done?”
“the very fact of the death of someone close to them aroused in all who heard about it, as always, a feeling of delight that he had died and they hadn't.”
More quotes from the novel here.
Right before a trip Kade and I made to Thailand, like I often would, I mailed a package to Mother with some items I thought she'd like. It was a way too that I could share some things I was reading or discovering. In some cases, it was a simple follow-up to a phone call or conversation we'd had. She always was interested in my travels and my life in general. After she died, I discovered she kept virtually everything I'd sent her. As you can see in the note, I mailed her the National Geographic magazine with the Tolstoy article. I also included a copy of Kade's and my daily journal from our trip to Russia in 2007. Earlier I had given her my copy of The Death of Ivan Ilych, but I'm not sure if she ever read it. But, in her characteristic way, Mother received it warmly and expressed an openness to read it. Of course, that was good enough for me!
This is the Tolstoy Estate in Moscow that Kade and I toured. For more images, go here. The sprawling summer residence, and most famous of the Tolstoy properties, Yasnaya Polyana, we did not have a chance to visit. Tolstoy is buried there. Lastly, not long ago I blogged about a connection between by ggg-grandfather and a particular Russian writer. You can find that story here.
At the closing of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, there was a magnificent segment involving great Russian writers. Tolstoy is second from right. Here are more photos.
A bio of Tolstoy I bought in Asheville, NC.