World celebrates in Tolstoy the greatest novelist ever – biographer

Remembering Leo Tolstoy 100 years after his death on November 20, 1910, the world celebrates not only a literary giant, says biographer A.N. Wilson, but a man guided with a passion for the truth.

Starting from Tolstoy’s earliest works, there is a “feeling that we are called to a deeper, truer life, away from the absurdity of society,” says Andrew Normal Wilson, who published an award-winning biography of the author of “War and Peace.”

When you get to the end of Tolstoy’s life, the thousands of people who are following his coffin when he died were not following him because he was a great novelist. They were following him because he had taught not only Russia, but the world, how it ought to live, how we should be less selfish, how we shouldn’t be wrecking the planet, how we shouldn’t be fighting wars.”

Tolstoy alone stood up against [Russia’s] extremely powerful regime and told the truth in a world of lies,” says Wilson. “This was a fantastic example for Russia, because in all the terrible years which followed his death [in 1910], the tradition of Tolstoy lived on and it enabled the dissidents, when they courageously began to emerge in Stalinist times to look at his example and to see that you only needed one voice telling the truth. Look at Akhamatova, look at Solzhenitsyn. They were guided by the influence of Tolstoy. That is what we have to celebrate.”