Count Leo Tolstoy (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910) was a Russian novelist and political thinker most important for his contributions to the Russian novel writing arts.
Although best known for his very long books such as “War and Peace” (I only know one person who has read the full book, have you?) and “Anna Karenina” he was also involved in a number of short publications.
Tolstoy Writing a Love Letter To His Fiancee
This is a rather romantic love letter sent by Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Although we all know him better by the name Count Leo Tolstoy.
Count Leo Tolstoy wrote this letter to Valeria Arsenev, at that time still his fiancee although they were never married.
November 2, 1856.
I already love in you your beauty, but I am only beginning to love in you that which is eternal and ever precious – your heart, your soul.
Beauty one could get to know and fall in love with in one hour and cease to love it as speedily; but the soul one must learn to know.
Believe me, nothing on earth is given without labour, even love, the most beautiful and natural of feelings.
Count Leo Tolstoy wrote this letter to Valeria Arsenev, his fiance. Despite his declaration of love in this letter (and others) in his private diaries Tolstoy would reveal a very different side of his love feelings for her.
He felt she was uneducated, too frivolous, and needed to learn about the ways of the world. He went so far as in some of his other love letters to her he writes a family novel which is centered around two people (obviously himself and Valeria) and tells the story of how the woman learns new ways of thinking. Apparently she did not learn from those letters and adapt to his way of thinking about the world.
Rather than get married to Valeria he joined the army in a rather junior rank. As that war with Turkey finished he went to Paris where he gambled away virtually all his money. He returned to Russia and started writing again more seriously. His success and business acumen by publishing the books in installments spread over a few years made him a very rich man again. That way he got a number of payments rather than just one.
It was then he went through what he described a spiritual revolution and started giving away virtually everything he could.
Tolstoy had been born into an extremely wealthy member of the Russian nobility. However as time went on he grew to believe that he was undeserving of his inherited wealth. In fact he became quite famous renowned among the peasants of his land for his generosity towards them. Much to his wife’s concern and anger Tolstoy would frequently return home with vagrants whom he felt needed a helping hand. He would also on trips to the nearby cities start giving away large sums of money to street beggars.
One of his most famous quotes was
“Everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.”- Leo Tolstoy
That one single quote almost sums up his life and why he did what he did for the poorer people he met. His family did not share his spirit of generosity.
His new wife got a court order to stop him and a settlement gave all his early royalties to her and their children to live on. The rest he gave away.
When he died in 1910, thousands of peasants turned out to honour him by lining the streets at his funeral.