Leo Tolstoy was born into wealth at his family’s estate near Moscow on September 9, 1828 and would mainly live there until his death on February 22, 1910. His long life, complex nature, and monumental work are impossible to adequately summarize, but it’s no stretch to claim he is the most highly regarded author ever. Authentic to the core, he was adept at revealing the inner truths that motivated his characters in simple, clear, honest prose.
Although his famous novels, War and Peace (1867 ) and Anna Karenina (1878 ) are celebrated as the finest examples of long form fiction, Tolstoy grew increasingly disappointed with their imperfection as he aged and his spirit evolved, a seemingly odd decline of opinion since both novels will remain forever revered by readers, critics, and authors the world over.
Tolstoy’s dissatisfaction with these masterpieces was probably the result of a profound shift in his moral philosophy. Throughout his life he kept extensive diaries that reveal he was fascinated as a young adult with making all kinds of social and moral behavior rules — first to guide himself but also to improve society. However, as he matured he came to believe that life is too complex and disordered for people to improve themselves or society by merely conforming to rules.
This new philosophy prompted him to compose and adapt mostly short fiction for the last one-third of his life. Among these works are moral tales, including the three included in Tolstoy Illustrated. He adapted these fables to encourage young and old alike to listen to their hearts and to love others and all creation. He died in peace holding firm to his beliefs and vocation to transform society.