Ilya Tolstoy

Russian writer

Count Ilya Lvovich Tolstoy (May 22, 1866 – December 11, 1933) was a Russian writer, and the third son of Leo Tolstoy.

Ilya Tolstoy in 1916



Reminiscences of Tolstoy (1914)

Full text online at the Internet Archive, trans. George Calderon, Chapman & Hall
  • The chief personage in the house was my Mother. She settled everything. She interviewed Nikolái, the cook, and ordered dinner; she sent us out for walks, made our shirts, was always nursing some baby at the breast; all day long she was bustling about the house with hurried steps. One could be naughty with her, though she was sometimes angry and punished us. She knew more about everything than anybody else. She knew that one must wash every day, that one must eat soup at dinner, that one must talk French, learn not to crawl about on all fours, not to put one's elbows on the table; and if she said that one was not to go out walking because it was just going to rain, she was sure to be right, and one must do as she said. When I coughed she gave me liquorice or King of Denmark drops; so I was very fond of coughing. When my Mother put me to bed and went upstairs to play duets with Father, I found it very hard to go to sleep, and I was annoyed at being left alone; so I started coughing and went on until Nurse went and fetched Mamma, and I was angry with her for coming so slowly. I entirely refused to go to sleep until she had come to my rescue and measured out exactly ten drops in a wineglass and given them to me.
    • pp. 6–7
  • Anna Karenina was the name of the novel on which my Father and Mother were both at work. My Mother's work seemed much harder than my Father's, because we actually saw her at it, and she worked much longer hours than he did. … Leaning over the manuscript and trying to decipher my Father's scrawl with her short-sighted eyes, she used to spend whole evenings at work, and often sat up late at night after everybody else had gone to bed. Sometimes, when anything was written quite illegibly, she would go to my Father's study and ask him what it meant. … When it happened, my Father used to take the manuscript in his hand, and ask with some annoyance: "What on earth is the difficulty?" and would begin to read it out aloud. When he came to the difficult place he would mumble and hesitate, and sometimes had the greatest difficulty in making out, or rather in guessing, what he had written.
    • pp. 98–99
  • When he got home my Father at once told us of Alexander II's assassination, and the papers which arrived the next day confirmed the news. I remember the overwhelming impression which this senseless murder produced on my Father. Besides his horror at the cruel death of the Tsar, "who has done so much good to people and always wished them so much good, this good old man," he could not help thinking of the murderers, of the approaching executions, and "not so much about them as about those who were preparing to take part in their murder, and especially about Alexander III."
    • p. 186
  • The first member of the family who allied herself with my Father at that time was my sister Masha… In 1885 she was fifteen years old. She was a thin, fair girl, lissom and rather tall, resembling my Mother in figure, but taking more after my Father in features, with the same strongly marked cheekbones and with bright blue eyes. Quiet and retiring in disposition, she always had a certain air of being, as it were, rather "put upon." She felt for my Father's solitude, and was the first of the whole family to draw away from the society of those of her own age, and unobtrusively, but firmly and definitely, to go over to my Father's side. Always a champion of the downtrodden and unfortunate, Masha threw herself whole-heartedly into the interests of the poor of the village and, whenever she could, helped them with such little physical strength as she had, and, above all, with her great responsive heart.
    • p. 221
  • My Father hardly ever made us do anything; but it always somehow came about that of our own initiative we did exactly what he wanted us to. My Mother often scolded us and punished us; but when my Father wanted to make us do anything he merely looked us hard in the eyes, and we understood: that look was far more effective than any command. … My Father's great power as an educator lay in this, that it was as impossible to conceal anything from him as it was from one's own conscience. He knew everything, and to deceive him was just like deceiving oneself: it was nearly impossible, and quite useless.
    • pp. 238–239
  • Although my Father had long since renounced the copyright in all his works written after 1883, and although, after having made all his real estate over to his children he had as a matter of fact no property left, still he could not but be aware that his life was far from corresponding with his principles, and this consciousness perpetually preyed upon his mind. One has but to read some of his posthumous works attentively to see that the idea of leaving home and radically altering his whole way of life had presented itself to him long since and was a continual temptation to him.
    • p. 300
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