The Death of Ivan Ilyich: Biography: Leo Tolstoy

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Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born into a life of wealth and distinction on September 9, 1828, in his father's estate near Moscow.  Though he lost his parents at an early age, he received a fine education (yet never a degree), being well-versed in several European languages.  Eventually he joined the army, fighting in the Crimean War.  Many of his early works relate to this war-time period of his life.  He married at the age of 34 and had 13 children.
For the next 15 years Tolstoy lived as a farmer and gentleman and wrote.  War and Peace was finished in 1864-1869 and Anna Karenina in 1873-1876.  Tolstoy went through a serious spiritual crisis, after which he wrote the autobiographical A Confession. From then on he began to publicize his views on religion, morality, non-violence and renunciation of the flesh.  Other works from this time are What Then Must We Do? and The Kingdom of God is Within You.  Relations between he and his wife became strained because of his new beliefs and fame as a pacifist.  In 1910 he left home at the age of 82 and died of pneumonia at a local railway station.
Tolstoy's writings have influenced much of 20th-century literature, and his ethical and religious works have influenced the beliefs of many spiritual and political leaders. In addition to Tolstoy's famous novels, he wrote many plays, stories and sketches, autobiographical and educational works, ethical and religious books and essays, and social and political essays and addresses.
Though he loathed his sinful early life, Tolstoy gradually developed a radical Christian philosophy seen especially in his Death of Ivan Ilyich and other works.  This moral philosophy often contradicted the Eastern Orthodox philosophy on which he was raised.  Tolstoy believed that a Christian should look inside his own heart to find inner happiness rather than looking outward toward the state.  His belief in non-violence when facing oppression is another distinct attribute of his philosophy. 

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