Maria Lvovna Tolstaya

Russian educator

Countess Maria Lvovna Tolstaya (February 1871 – November 1906) was the second daughter and fifth child of Leo Tolstoy.

Body white as milk, curly white hair; big, queer blue eyes, queer by reason of their deep, serious expression. (Leo Tolstoy)
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. (Ilya Tolstoy)

Quotes about Maria TolstayaEdit

  • The fifth, Masha (Mary) two years old, the one whose birth nearly cost Sónya her life. A weak and sickly child. Body white as milk, curly white hair; big, queer blue eyes, queer by reason of their deep, serious expression. Very intelligent and ugly. She will be one of the riddles; she will suffer, she will seek and find nothing; will always be seeking what is least attainable.
    • Leo Tolstoy, letter to Alexandra Andreyevna Tolstoy, 1872; quoted in Reminiscences of Tolstoy by Ilya Tolstoy, trans. George Calderon (London: Chapman & Hall, 1914), p. 5.
  • 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.
    • Ilya Tolstoy, Reminiscences of Tolstoy, trans. George Calderon (London: Chapman & Hall, 1914), p. 221.
  • Masha is worth a lot; serious, clever and kind. People reproach her for not having any exclusive attachments. But it's this that shows her true love. She loves everyone and makes everyone love her – not just as much as, but even more than people who love their own family exclusively.
  • Masha was on bad terms with her mother; wholeheartedly devoted to her father, she suffered more than anyone else on his account. … Following in her father's footsteps, aflame with renunciation and self-sacrifice, Masha mortified her flesh, slept on hard boards covered with a thin layer of felt; she lived on a vegetarian diet, worked from morning to night in the fields, teaching children, helping the sick, the unfortunates, or visiting peasant families.
    • Alexandra Tolstaya, Tolstoy: A Life of My Father, trans. Elizabeth R. Hapgood (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1953), p. 311.
  • Masha died quietly, conscious to the last. Father and Kolya were sitting by her bed. They raised her on her pillow. An hour before she died she opened her eyes wide, saw Father and laid his hand on her breast. Father leaned over her and raised her thin, transparent hand to his lips. "I am dying," she whispered almost inaudibly.
    • Alexandra Tolstaya, Tolstoy: A Life of My Father, trans. Elizabeth R. Hapgood (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1953), p. 452.

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