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Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer and moral philosopher He was one of the worlds greatest novelists His writings greatly influenced much of 20th-century literature and his moral teachings helped shape the thinking of several important spiritual and political leaders Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born in 1828 into a family of aristocratic landowners at Yasnaya Polyana His early education came from tutors at home but after the deaths of his parents in the 1830s his aunts raised him He entered Kazan University when he was 16 but preferred to educate himself independently and in 1847 he gave up his studies without finishing his degree His next 15 years were very troubled Tolstoy returned to manage the family estate with the determination to improve himself intellectually morally and physically He wanted to better the lot of his peasant serfs After less than two years however he abandoned rural life for the pleasures of Moscow In 1851 Tolstoy traveled to the Caucasus where his brother was serving in the army He enlisted as a volunteer serving with distinction in the Crimean War 1853-1856 Tolstoy began his literary career during his army service and his first work the semi-autobiographical short novel Detstvo brought him praise A series of other stories followed and when he left the army in 1856 he was acknowledged as a rising new talent in literature Tolstoy was never comfortable in the literary world however and in 1859 he returned to Yasnaya Polyana to manage the estate set up a school for peasant children and write about his progressive theories of education In 1862 Tolstoy married Sofya Andreyevna Behrs the 18-year-old daughter of a Moscow physician Married life at Yasnaya Polyana a growing family and his great interest in creating his finest literary work brought him stability for the next 15 years War and Peace in 1886 tells the story of the Pierre Bezukhov and two aristocratic families the Bolkonskys and the
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