LEO TOL­STOY

History of War - - CRIMEAN WAR -

THE FU­TURE NOV­EL­IST WHOSE WRIT­ING WAS SHAPED BY THE SIEGE OF SEV­ASTOPOL 1828-1910 RUS­SIA

Born into an aris­to­cratic fam­ily, Tol­stoy’s fa­ther had fought dur­ing the French in­va­sion of Rus­sia in 1812. The fu­ture nov­el­ist be­came a ju­nior ar­tillery of­fi­cer and al­ready had three years’ mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence from cam­paigns in the Cau­ca­sus be­fore he ar­rived in the Crimea in the win­ter of 1854. Tol­stoy fought at the Siege of Sev­astopol and cel­e­brated his 27th birthday on the same day that the port fell to the Al­lies af­ter an 11-month bom­bard­ment. Dur­ing the siege, Tol­stoy wrote re­al­is­tic dis­patches that were pub­lished in an in­flu­en­tial St Peters­burg jour­nal. These were later col­lected into a book called Sev­astopol Sketches and his graphic, un­flinch­ing ac­counts of siege war­fare made him fa­mous.

The Crimean War also deeply dis­il­lu­sioned Tol­stoy and heav­ily in­formed his writ­ing. He came to con­sider that bat­tles were de­lib­er­ate folly and that or­di­nary Rus­sians did not de­serve the treat­ment they re­ceived from their rulers. Com­mon hu­man­ity re­placed blind pa­tri­o­tism in his mind and these ideas borne of con­flict found their most po­tent ex­pres­sion in his novel War And Peace.

Tol­stoy pic­tured in his ar­tillery of­fi­cer’s uni­form in 1856

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