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About the Author
A Russian author of novels, short stories, plays, and philosophical essays, Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was born into an aristocratic family and is best known for the epic books War and Peace and Anna Karenina, regarded as two of the greatest works of Russian literature. After serving in the Crimean War, Tolstoy retired to his estate and devoted himself to writing, farming, and raising his large family. His novels and outspoken social polemics brought him world-wide fame.
Date of Birth:September 9, 1828
Date of Death:November 20, 1910
Place of Birth:Tula Province, Russia
Place of Death:Astapovo, Russia
Education:Privately educated by French and German tutors; attended the University of Kazan, 1844-47
Read an Excerpt
Nobody knows where the human race is going. The highest wisdom, then, is to know where you should go: toward perfection.
A wise man seeks wisdom; a madman thinks that he has found it.
It is not the place we occupy which is important, but the direction in which we move.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
Your actions should be determined not by the desire of the people around you, but by the needs of all mankind. April 23
Real goodness is always simple.
Simplicity is so attractive and so profitable that it is strange that so few people lead truly simple lives.
Do not seek happiness elsewhere. Give thanks to God, who made necessary things simple, and complicated things unnecessary.
Most of our spending is done to forward our efforts to look like others.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Every great thing is done in a quiet, humble, simple way; to plow the land, to build houses, to breed cattle, even to think you cannot do such things when there are thunder and lightning around you. Great and true things are always simple and humble.
No one looks less simple than those people who artificially strive to seem so. Artificial simplicity is the most unpleasant of all artificial things. July 9th
People mistakenly think that virtue lies in the knowledge of many things. What is important is not the quantity but the quality of knowledge.
Socrates thought that stupidity was incompatible with wisdom, but he never said that ignorance was stupidity.
We live in the age of philosophy, science, and intellect. Huge libraries are open for everyone. Everywhere we have schools, colleges, and universities which give us the wisdom of the people from many previous millennia. And what then? Have we become wiser for all this? Do we better understand our life, or the meaning of our existence? Do we know what is good for our life?
JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU
Reading too much is harmful to your independence of thought. The greatest thinkers I've met among scholars are people who do not read too much.
Do not fear the lack of knowledge, fear false knowledge. All evil in this world comes from false knowledge.
Knowledge born in argument and discussion is to be doubted. October 16
God is in all of us, and it is possible for all of us to find and understand him there.
To know yourself is to discover the good that lies within.
God is close to us, he is with us: the divine spirit is inside of us. If he were not, the power to be good would be beyond our reach. A person cannot be good without God.
LUCIUS ANNAEUS SENECA
If you are going through a hard time, work harder to understand God; as soon as you understand Him, all difficult things will become easy, and you will feel love and joy.
If a person does not feel a divine force within himself, this does not mean that a divine force does not exist in him, but that he has not yet learned how to recognize it.
Translation copyright © 1997 by Peter Sekirin