A celebration of spirit, born on this day in Moscow, novelist Leo Nikolaivich Tolstoy (1828-1910) created vivid portraits of Russian life and history. His masterpieces War and Peace (1862–69) and Anna Karenina (1873–76) are considered two of the greatest novels ever written.
He once said: "I am what I have written."
Tolstoy kept a notebook with him always and jotted down ideas constantly. He sought perfection in his writing and was his own harshest critic. "One must reject the idea of writing without correction," he said. "Three or four drafts are not enough."
The son of nobility, at age 48 Tolstoy experienced a midlife spiritual crisis and renounced wealth, searched for the meaning of life, and radically changed his beliefs. "It is amazing," he wrote, "how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness."
Writing about Christian love and passive resistance in The Confession (1879) and What I Believe (1884), his books were banned in Russia and the Eastern Orthodox church excommunicated him. Still, he maintained that faith was the key to life's true meaning and continued to write.
"All art has this characteristic - it unites people," he believed.
Tolstoy's holy spirit of pacifism inspired Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez.
"The greatest truth," Tolstoy observed, "is the most simple one."
More Leo TOLSTOY Quotations
What is holy and magical lives within you.