The dominant theme of Tolstoy’s relationship with the world around him was the opposite of Dostoevsky’s. Whereas the latter attempted to resolve the conflicts of Russia in the second half of the nineteenth century on their own terms, and was accordingly intensely topical in his work, Tolstoy’s art and thought represent a rejection of the modern world. His answers are usually antihistorical, absolute. Tolstoy’s background and education provide the starting-point for this struggle. His early upbringing was set in a close family circle on the Yasnaya Polyana estate, where his tradition-bound, conservative father and doting mother provided a rich, comfortable and easy life. The deaths of his mother in 1830, and his father in 1837, when Tolstoy was still only nine, were the principal shocks to disturb this tranquil gentry existence, but it was not until the year of the death of Tolstoy’s father that he left the estate and realised for the first time that he and his family were not the centre of the universe.1
KeywordsModern World Literary World Russian Literature Contemporary Group Popular Education
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