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Leo Tolstoy was born in 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana, province of Tula, the fourth son of Count Nikolay Tolstoy. Between 1856 and 1861 Tolstoy wrote and traveled abroad extensively. He returned with a sense of revulsion for what he considered to be European materialism. In 1859 he started several schools for peasant children at Yasnaya and in 1862 he founded a magazine in which he contended that it was the peasants who should teach the intellectuals, rather than the other way round. Tolstoy's increasingly radical political stance at the end of his life alienated his wife. He frequently dispensed huge sums of money to beggars and drew up a will relinquishing his copyrights. Such behavior led to frequent disputes with his Sofia. Finding it impossible to continue living a comfortable life with his family whilst preaching communism, he left Yasnaya in 1910, with one of his daughters and his doctor, for an unknown destination. He died on the journey and was buried in a simple peasant's grave.
It's 1805 and St Petersburg, Russia is overwhelmed by terror and uncertainty as Napoleon marches on the country and war breaks out. Focusing on three characters whose lives are transformed, War and Peace is about people trying to find their place in a world completely changed by war, social, political and spiritual upheaval. Timeless themes that resonate today while also offering an insight into a moment in history. A fantastic classic recommended by us. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
The lives of Pierre, Prince Andrei and Natasha are changed forever as conflict rages throughout the early nineteenth century. Following the rise and fall of some of society's most influential families, this truthful and poignant epic is as relevant today as ever. This six part adaptation has been written by Bafta-winning author Andrew Davies and will be directed by Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders, The Scouting Book for Boys, Woman in Black: Angel of Death). Accompanied by a stellar cast including Paul Dano (12 years a Slave, Prisoners, There Will be Blood) as the idealistic Pierre, James Norton (Happy Valley, Belle, Grantchester) as the ambitious Prince Andrei and Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey) as the impulsive beauty Natasha. It also features the legendary Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge, Harry Potter, Longford), Gillian Anderson (The Fall, The X-Files), Greta Scacchi (White Mischief, Presumed Innocent) and many more.
Anna Karenina is the story of a woman who throws everything away to be with the young soldier she has fallen in love with, recklessly disregarding the consequences of her actions. In the Compact Edition philosophical and political sections have been outlined rather than given in full, some lengthy descriptions have been pruned, including descriptions of society life in Moscow and St Petersburg, but none of the passion, intrigue or momentum is lost
January 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. On My Bookshelf by Wendy Holden... Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy is the best in its class – I am a novelist, but for my money the writers of the19th century set the bar for the whole genre. The reason I love it isn’t so much the tragic Anna with ghastly Vronsky, but because of Princess Kitty and Levin. He’s cracked and she’s a bit cosy, but their love affair is just so transportingly romantic. The description of when they meet at the frozen pond, where she is skating and he can’t even look at her because he feels it would be like looking at the sun, gets me every time. It’s because of these two lovers that I’ve never understood the fuss about Jane Austen’s Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
In the Sevastopol Sketches, Leo Tolstoy evocatively recollects his experiences at the Siege of Sevastopol in 1854-1855, over the course of three short stories. Although the trio of tales which comprise the Sevastopol Sketches are ostensibly fictional and written in the second person, they accurately recall Tolstoy's experiences as a young man witnessing the Crimean War. All three possess philosophical overtones, with the overarching theme being a vilification of war as a wasteful, senseless and foolish expenditure of human life. The Sevastopol Sketches establish Tolstoy as a pacifist who considered war to be one of the most depraved and lamentable events characterizing mankind. Years after publishing these sketches, Tolstoy would draw upon the Siege of Sevastopol as a critical supplement to the narrative of his epic novel - War and Peace.