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Russian author Leo Tolstoy wrote the acclaimed novels War and Peace, Anna Karenina and The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and still ranks among the world's top writers.
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He decided to express those beliefs by founding a new publication called The Mediator in 1883.
As a consequence of espousing his unconventional—and therefore controversial—spiritual beliefs, Tolstoy was ousted by the Russian Orthodox Church. He was even watched by the secret police. When Tolstoy's new beliefs prompted his desire to give away his money, his wife strongly objected. The disagreement put a strain on the couple's marriage,
until Tolstoy begrudgingly agreed to a compromise: He conceded to granting his wife the copyrights—and presumably the royalties—to all of his writing predating 1881.
In addition to his religious tracts, Tolstoy continued to write fiction throughout the 1880s and 1890s. Among his later works' genres were moral tales and realistic fiction. One of his most successful later works was the novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, written in 1886. In Ivan Ilyich, the main character struggles to come to grips with his impending death. The title character, Ivan Ilyich, comes to the jarring realization that he has wasted his life on trivial matters, but the realization comes too late.
In 1898, Tolstoy wrote Father Sergius, a work of fiction in which he seems to criticize the beliefs that he developed following his spiritual conversion. The following year, he wrote his third lengthy novel, Resurrection. While the work received some praise, it hardly matched the success and acclaim of his previous novels. Tolstoy's other late works include essays on art, a satirical play called The Living Corpse that he wrote in 1890, and a novella called Hadji-Murad (written in 1904), which was discovered and published after his death.
Over the last 30 years of his life, Tolstoy established himself as a moral and religious leader. His ideas about nonviolent resistance to evil influenced the likes of social leader Mahatma Gandhi.
Also during his later years, Tolstoy reaped the rewards of international acclaim. Yet he still struggled to reconcile his spiritual beliefs with the tensions they created in his home life. His wife not only disagreed with his teachings, she disapproved of his disciples, who regularly visited Tolstoy at the family estate. Their troubled marriage took on an air of notoriety in the press. Anxious to escape his wife's growing resentment, in October 1910, Tolstoy and his daughter, Aleksandra, embarked on a pilgrimage. Aleksandra, Tolstoy's youngest daughter, was to serve as her elderly father's doctor during the trip. Valuing their privacy, they traveled incognito, hoping to dodge the press, to no avail.
Unfortunately, the pilgrimage proved too arduous for the aging novelist. In November 1910, the stationmaster of a train depot in Astapovo, Russia opened his home to Tolstoy, allowing the ailing writer to rest. Tolstoy died there shortly after, on November 20, 1910. He was buried at the family estate, Yasnaya Polyana, in Tula Province, where Tolstoy had lost so many loved ones yet had managed to build such fond and lasting memories of his childhood.
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