Author(s): Leo Tolstoy
In "Confession" Tolstoy poses the question: Is there any meaning in my life that will not be destroyed by my death? In 1879 the fifty-year-old author of "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" came to believe that he had accomplished nothing in life. Either of these magnificant novels would have assured Tolstoy's permanent place in the annals of world literature, yet his achievement was not enough to give his life meaning. "Confession" is an account of this spiritual crisis, marking a shift of Tolstoy's central focus from the aesthetic to the religious and philisophical.
Count Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born in 1828 and educated privately. He studied Oriental languages and Law at the University of Kazan, then led a life of pleasure until he joined an artillery regiment in the Caucasus in 1851. He served during the Crimean War and after the defence of Sebastopol wrote The Sebastopol Sketches, which established his reputation. He continued to write while developing educational projects, writing War and Peace and Anna Karenina between 1865 and 1876. A Confession marked an outward change in his life and works: he became an extreme rationalist and moralist, and his theories led to his excommunication from the Russian Holy Synod in 1901. He died in 1910. Jane Kentish is a lecturer in Byzantine and early Russian History and Art at the University of Sussex.