Author(s): Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy began his trilogy, "Childhood, Boyhood, Youth", in his early twenties. Although he would in his old age famously dismiss it as an 'awkward mixture of fact and fiction', generations of readers have not agreed, finding the novel to be a charming and insightful portrait of inner growth against the background of a world limned with extraordinary clarity, grace and colour. Evident too in its brilliant account of a young person's emerging awareness of the world and of his place within it are many of the stances, techniques and themes that would come to full flower in the immortal War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and in the other great works of Tolstoy's maturity.
Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana, in the Tula province, and educated privately. He studied Oriental languages and law at the University of Kazan, then led a life of pleasure until 1851 when he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus. He took part in the Crimean War and after the defence of Sebastopol he wrote The Sebastopol Sketches (1855-56), which established his reputation. After a period in St Petersburg and abroad, he married Sofya Andreyevna Behrs in 1862. The next fifteen years was a period of great happiness; they had thirteen children, and Tolstoy managed his vast estates in the Volga Steppes, continued his educational projects, cared for his peasants and wrote War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). A Confession (1879-82) marked a spiritual crisis in his life, and in 1901 he was excommunicated by the Russian Holy Synod. He died in 1910, in the course of a dramatic flight from home, at the small railway station of Astapovo. Judson Rosengrant has translated and edited a wide range of Russian literature and historiography, including works by Olesha, Lydia Ginzburg, Iskander, Limonov and Radzinsky. He has taught Russian language, literature and culture at the University of Southern California, Indiana University and Reed College in the United States, and translation theory and practice at St Petersburg State University in Russia.