Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.
The most authoritative figure not only for his contemporaries, but also for posterity is Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy. “There are two tsars in Russia – Nicholas II and Leo Tolstoy,” Suvorin wrote. Two things testify to the genius of the classic: his works are still relevant and popular all over the world. He is not just a Russian writer – the topics and issues he raises are close to people of any nationality. Tolstoy's genius has worldwide recognition and popularity among readers with a mentality different from Russian and a different paradigm. Our experts have selected the 10 best works from the entire author's heritage.
Rating of the best works of Leo Tolstoy
|Rating of the best works of Leo Tolstoy||1||Anna Karenina||5.0|
|3||War and Peace||4.8|
|4||Childhood. Adolescence. Youth||4.7|
|7||After the ball||4.5|
|9||Prisoner of the Caucasus||4.5|
|10||Death of Ivan Ilyich||4.4|
The novel takes place in Russia at the end of the 19th century. Tolstoy equally skillfully depicts the life of all strata of that society: from the high society St. Petersburg nobility to the peasants. The main character, whose name the work is named after, being a married lady, falls in love with the young Count Alexei Vronsky. Karenina's husband becomes aware of his wife's love affair, but he does not agree to a divorce. The lovers flee to Italy, but their happiness does not last long – Vronsky's feelings gradually cool down. Anna commits suicide by throwing herself under a train. The main idea of the work is that building happiness on the ruins of a family is impossible. The idealism of the young landowner Levin acts as a counterbalance to Anna Karenina's all-consuming passion. He is sure that love, truth and fidelity are the foundation of the world. The prototype of this hero is Tolstoy himself.
Fyodor Dostoevsky highly appreciated the novel 'Anna Karenina', and after reading his work, Tolstoy called him 'the god of art'. The reader gets the impression that the author, down to the smallest detail, understands and understands the essence and consequences of betrayal, passion, jealousy and brings down this understanding on him. The book leaves no one indifferent; they argue about it even 150 years after it was written. Tolstoy's work 'Anna Karenina' has been published in 120 languages of the world, there are many film adaptations, musicals, serials and remakes all over the world. This masterpiece can be re-read all your life, and in every age period you can find new pearls in it.
Our experts give the second place to the last novel by Lev Nikolaevich – 'Resurrection'. The work is named so because even the most 'lost' and cynical souls are able to resurrect for love and spiritual life. The main character is Katyusha Maslova, a pupil-servant of two elderly landowners. At the age of 16, she falls in love with the nephew of her 'benefactors', a young student, Dmitry Nekhlyudov, who seduces her before leaving for the army. Both heroes meet again at the trial, where Nekhlyudov is a jury, and Katyusha is a defendant, a walking girl from a brothel. She is accused of poisoning in order to rob one of the brothel's clients. Tormented by his conscience, Dmitry seeks to reduce the sentence, Katya finds her love in exile, and Nekhlyudov comes to faith in God.
Modern readers note that the work raises topical and today problems: corruption, injustice of the judicial system, social inequality, lack of spirituality, moral callousness. The novel is easy to read, the plot keeps in suspense, and the ending is impossible to predict. It turns out that one act in a distant youth can subsequently turn the whole life upside down.
War and Peace
On the next line of the rating is Tolstoy's world-famous novel 'War and Peace'. The story centers on the fate of the main character Natasha Rostova. At the beginning of the novel, she is a young girl, a teenager. In the end – the venerable mother of the family. There are many storylines and destinies in the work, each of which excites the reader, does not leave him indifferent. Events take place in the early 19th century against the backdrop of the war with Napoleon.
This novel has been reprinted and filmed countless times. In 2016, the television 6-episode version of the film adaptation of War and Peace was triumphant in Britain. The audience is unprecedented – seven million viewers, without stopping, followed the development of the plot in this exotic, incomprehensible and vast Russia. 'Is it over ?! Not! Bring them back! Let Pierre grow his awful beard again! Bring Helen back – I want to see what a terrible mother she becomes! I can’t come to terms with the fact that it’s over! ”- this is one of the reviews of the English audience.
Childhood. Adolescence. Youth
This trilogy of Tolstoy is autobiographical and was born from the writer's diaries, which he kept since childhood. The writer is looking for an answer to the question: how does a pure, light, naive and direct creature turn into a cynical and vicious person? The work is the debut of the writer in great literature, which brought him instant fame. The ingenious book gave impetus to the study of child psychology for teachers of that time.
Critics enthusiastically received the first part of the trilogy – 'Childhood'. Turgenev wrote that the work is in fashion 'more than crinoline'. The attitude towards 'Adolescence' was cooler, and 'Youth' was even subjected to merciless criticism for excessive analysis of insignificant events and too long, confusing sentences. Either way, this trilogy takes pride of place on the list of the best classics.
The following work is atypical for Tolstoy. 'Family Happiness' is a rather short novel, but no less talented than the author's voluminous works. The ability of a male writer to subtly understand the psychology and movements of the soul of a young girl, and then a woman, is striking. In the center of the story is the family – Sergei Mikhailovich and Mashenka, and the changes that occur in their characters after marriage. Masha goes from a naive simpleton to a wise wife and mother. Her husband is from a selfish self-lover to a patient and forgiving person.
According to readers, the novel reveals the secret of a happy family life. To live for another is the whole secret. Relationships between spouses are a daily, hourly choice in favor of love, no matter what feelings overwhelmed at a given moment in time. Such works do not lose their relevance over time, because everyone secretly or clearly dreams of family happiness. Not everyone wants to work for this, but those who understand the principle revealed by Tolstoy are successful in marriage. “All happy families are similar to each other …” – Tolstoy himself thought so.
We give the honorable sixth place in the rating to the famous little scandalous 'Confession'. The first work of Leo Tolstoy, in which he outlined the rudiments of a moral and religious doctrine, later named after him – 'Tolstoyism'. The Russian censors did not miss Confession because of its harsh criticism of the Orthodox Church. The book was published in Geneva and secretly distributed in Russia among admirers of the writer's talent.
In the reviews of those who have read this work, the leitmotif is the opinion that the book is not for everyone. Only those who are looking for their way through faith in God are looking for the meaning of their life, will understand and accept it. A reflection-novel is not read 'voraciously': after each chapter one wants to reflect, analyze, think and pray.
After the ball
Lev Nikolaevich's story 'After the Ball' is built on the opposition of events at the ball and after it. The father of the protagonist's beloved, Colonel Pyotr Vladislavovich, during the ball looks like a loving father, an exemplary family man and just a good person. After – acts as the commander of the brutal massacre of the guilty soldier.
With a colorful literary device, Tolstoy showed that no violence can be justified. It is, in essence, contrary to God. It is also unacceptable to divide people into worthy and despised. The hero of the story, Ivan Vasilievich, immediately falls in love with Varenka, when he realizes what a hypocrite he raised her. A very instructive piece that makes you think.
The experts gave eighth place to Tolstoy's piercing story 'The Kreutzer Sonata'. The author on the train hears the story of family life and the tragedy of the hero of Pozdnyshev's work. The 'companion effect' is triggered, and a monstrous story is heard about how, due to ugly jealousy, the hero kills his wife and the mother of his children. The court justifies this murder, but the perpetrator punishes himself. Punishes with pangs of conscience and understanding, how the absence of a vital core and pride destroys moral foundations in him.
In their responses, the readers of the story are unanimous that the work is surprisingly modern. In the heroes of the plot, everyone recognizes themselves, their relatives and friends. Human vices have not changed for hundreds of years. The entourage has changed, technical progress has stepped far forward, but the souls of people remain the same. “If I didn’t know that this is Tolstoy’s story, I would think that I’m reading the arguments of one of the famous bloggers,” writes one of Tolstoy's astonished fans of the talent.
Prisoner of the Caucasus
A short adventure story by Tolstoy about the different attitudes and behavior of people in trials. Zhilin is optimistic, brave, intelligent, with clear concepts of honor and male deeds. His friend Kostylin is the complete opposite of him. Both young men were captured by the Chechens during the war for the annexation of the North Caucasus to Russia in 1817-1864. Both the one and the other are freed from captivity, but one with honor, retaining a human appearance, and the other – having ruined his family, collecting ransom.
The story has been filmed many times. The most famous version is Sergei Bodrov Sr.'s 'Prisoner of the Caucasus', where his son played the role of Ivan Zhilin. The problem raised by Tolstoy remains topical. Yes, life dramas are sometimes random, but the way out of them depends on the inner core, character and choice. You can betray, surrender, whine, or you can, without losing nobility, look for a way out and fight.
Death of Ivan Ilyich
On the last line of the rating is a poignant story about the illness and death of the judicial officer Golovin Ivan Ilyich. Tolstoy, through the lips of the protagonist, rethinks his life, denies, and then realizes the inevitability of death. And this awareness radically changes the understanding of the entire traversed life path.
The work is rather short, but it received recognition from well-known critics. For example, V. Nabokov wrote that this work is perfect for him and at the same time the most difficult for Lev Nikolaevich. And V. Stasov noted that “No nation, nowhere in the world, has such a genius creation. Everything is small, everything is small, everything is weak and pale in comparison with these 70 pages. ' The story also influenced the work of the genius director Akira Kurosawa – it was she who was inspired by him when writing the script for the film 'To Live'.
Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.