August 28, marks the day in 1828 of the birth of one of my most favorite historical and literary figures, Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy known in the Anglosphere as Leo Tolstoy. You may have seen his birthday cited as September 9, but the Gregorian calendar was very late in coming to Russia and was not fully incorporated until 1918.
His two most famous works are, of course, War and Peace and Ana Karenina, and he is considered one of the world’s greatest novelists, both by the populace and his fellow writers. Anton Chekhov, another one of my favorite people, wrote,
“When literature possesses a Tolstoy, it is easy and pleasant to be a writer; even when you know you have achieved nothing yourself and are still achieving nothing, this is not as terrible as it might otherwise be, because Tolstoy achieves for everyone. What he does serves to justify all the hopes and aspirations invested in literature.”Anton Chekhov
He received multiple nominations for the Novel Prize in Literature, every year from 1902 to 1906 and nominations for Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1910 and the fact that he never won is a major Nobel prize controversy. However, according to Books Tell You Why, he never really wanted the prize anyway.