(1817 – 1875)
In 1816, Anna Annaevna, seventeen, married Count K. P. Tolstoy, the brother of the famous sculptor, draftsman and engraver F. P. Tolstoy. August 24, 1817 in St. Petersburg was born future poet – Alexei Tolstoy. Father, however, did not play any role in his life: parents soon after the birth of his son divorced, and his mother took him to Chernigov province. There, among the southern Ukrainian nature, in the estates of the mother, and then her brother, Alexei Perovsky, he spent his childhood, which, in his own words, left only bright memories.
Tolstoy discovered literary interests very early. Alexei Perovsky – a famous prose writer of the 1920s and 1930s, who published his works under the pseudonym “Antony Pogorelsky”, cultivated a
Ten years Tolstoy was with his mother and Perovski for the first time abroad. In Weimar, they visited Goethe. Strong impression was made on Tolstoy’s trip to Italy in 1831. Moving from city to city, he admired all new and new monuments of art, visited artists’ studios, attended the purchases that Perovsky made in antique shops and the ruined Italian aristocrats. All this was vividly reflected in Tolstoy’s children’s diary.
In 1834, Tolstoy was identified as a “student” in the Moscow Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The duties of the archival youths belonging to the noble families of the nobility included the analysis and description of ancient documents. In the following year, Tolstoy withstood the examination at the Moscow University for the right to receive a rank and was “recognized worthy of joining the first category of civil servants.” At the beginning In 1837 he was appointed to the Russian mission to the German Sejm in Frankfurt am Main. The work was not too much: immediately after his appointment he received a three-month vacation “to various Russian gubernias”, in October 1838 he lived on Lake Como, part of the winter of 1838-1839 spent with his mother in Livorno. In December
A handsome, friendly and witty young man, gifted with an uncommon memory and such physical strength that he screwed the poker off, knowing the foreign languages well-read, Tolstoy divided his time between service, now interrupted by holidays, secular society and literature. Secular life, by his own admission, was very attractive to him in his youth. From time to time Tolstoy eluded her, indulging in the passion for hunting, which remained unchanged throughout his life. By the thirties, his love for Princess Elena Meshcherskaya; Tolstoy wanted to marry her, but his mother rebelled against it.
Service and social life did not drown out the literary interests of Tolstoy; he took literature seriously and deeply. Until 1836, his main adviser was AA Perovsky (in 1836 he died), which showed the poems of the young poet to his literary friends, including VA Zhukovsky. There is still evidence that Tolstoy’s first experiments were approved by Pushkin. We have reached only a small part of his early works. It should be noted that along with the “serious” poems in the spirit of romanticism, Tolstoy already at that time discovered an attraction to humor. At the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 40s, two fantastic stories were written (in French) – “The Ghoul Family” and “The Encounter in Three Hundred Years”. In May 1841 Tolstoy first appeared in the press, issuing a separate book, under the pseudonym “Krasnohorsky”
In the 1940s Tolstoy published very little – one poem and several essays and short stories. But even then the historical novel “Prince Serebryany” was conceived. Even then, Tolstoy was formed both as a lyricist and as an author of ballads. To this decade belong many of his widely known poems. Since the mid-forties, interest in poetry has plummeted, the main tasks of advanced Russian literature have been decided mainly in prosaic genres, there have been very few published poems, and Tolstoy seems to have been content with a small circle of his listeners-secular acquaintances and friends. The ideological search for the advanced Russian intelligentsia and the heated debates of the 1940s passed by him.
In 1850 Tolstoy was seconded to Senator Davydov, who was entrusted with the revision of the Kaluga province. The poet lived in Kaluga for six months. He often visited the governor’s wife, known to AO Smirnov-Rosset, a friend of Gogol, Pushkin and other Russian writers of the first half of the nineteenth century, read to her his poems and chapters from Prince Serebryany. In Smirnov, Tolstoy became more intimate with Gogol, who acquainted his Kaluga friends with excerpts from the second volume of Dead Souls.
In the early 50-ies “born” Kozma Prutkov. This is not a simple pseudonym, but created by Tolstoy and his cousins Alexei and Vladimir Zhemchuzhnikov, a satirical mask of the stupid and narcissistic bureaucrat of the Nikolayev era. On behalf of Kozma Prutkov they wrote in various genres: poems (fables, epigrams, parodies), and plays, aphorisms, and historical anecdotes, ridiculing in them the phenomena surrounding reality and literature.
In January 1851 was staged a comedy by Tolstoy and Alexei Zhemchuzhnikov “Fantasy”, later included in the collection of works by Kozma Prutkov. This is a parody of an empty, empty vaudeville prevailing on the Russian stage. Nicholas I, who was present at the play, was very unhappy with the play and ordered to remove it from the repertoire.
In the same winter of 1850-1851 Tolstoy met with the wife of the Horse Guards Colonel Sofya Andreevna Miller, who was born Bakhmeteva, and fell in love with her. They agreed, but their marriage was hampered on the one hand by the husband of Sophia Andreevna, who did not give her a divorce, and on the other – Tolstoy’s mother, who treated her unfriendly. Only in 1863 their marriage was officially registered. Sofya Andreevna was an educated woman; she knew several foreign languages, played the piano, sang and had, apparently, an uncommon aesthetic taste. Tolstoy often called her his best and most strict critic and listened to her advice. To Sofya Andreevna all his love poems are addressed, since 1851.
Tolstoy gradually acquired wider literary connections. In the early 50’s, the poet became friends with Turgenev, who helped free himself from exile in the village for his obituary Gogol, then met with Nekrasov and the circle of “Contemporary”. In 1854, after a long break, Tolstoy again appeared in print. In “Contemporary” appeared several of his poems and the first series of Prutkov’s things.
During the Crimean War, Tolstoy at first wanted to organize a partisan detachment in the event of an English landing on the Baltic coast, and then, in 1855, entered the rifle regiment as a major. But in the war the poet did not have to visit: during the parking of the regiment near Odessa he fell ill with typhus. After the war, on the day of the coronation of Alexander II, Tolstoy was appointed as an adjutant.
In 1857, there was a cooling between Tolstoy and the editorship of Sovremennik. After that, his poems in the “Contemporary” did not appear any more. Simultaneously, there was a rapprochement with the Slavophiles, who particularly liked Tolstoy’s interest in Russian history and folk art. Tolstoy became a regular employee of the “Russian conversation” and became friends with IS Aksakov. But a few years later, there were significant discrepancies. Tolstoy renounced his sympathies for the Slavophiles and often ridiculed their claims to represent the true interests of the Russian people.
Tolstoy often visited the court – and not only at official receptions. However, official duties (at one time he was also the clerk of the committee about the dissenters) became increasingly unpleasant to him. Even with the appointment of the adjutant, Tolstoy made an attempt to refuse, but without success. Only in 1859 he managed to obtain indefinite leave, and in 1861 – resignation. Having achieved resignation, Tolstoy settled in the village. He lived then in his estate Pustynke, near St. Petersburg, then – the further, the more and more – in the far from the capital the Red Horn (Chernigov province, Mllinsky district). In St. Petersburg, the poet only occasionally drove.
Being in the palace, he used more than once the only means available to him – “to say by all means the truth.” Tolstoy repeatedly defended himself against reprisals and persecution of writers. Back in the mid-fifties, he was actively involved in the efforts to return Taras Shevchenko from exile. In the summer of 1862, he stood up for I. S. Aksakov, who was forbidden to edit the newspaper “Day”, in 1863 – for Turgenev, who was brought to the case of persons accused of intercourse with “London propagandists,” that is, Herzen and Ogaryov, in In 1864, he attempted to mitigate the fate of Chernyshevsky.
In the sixties, Tolstoy emphatically stayed away from literary life, meeting and correspondence with only a few writers – Goncharov, Pavlova, Fet, Markevich.
Tolstoy printed mostly in the reactionary journal MN Katkov “Russian Herald”, and from the late 60’s – simultaneously in the “Russian Herald” and in the liberal “Messenger of Europe” M. M. Stasyulevich, despite their hostile relations and constant controversy.
In the early 1960s, Tolstoy published a “dramatic poem” “Don Juan” and the novel “Prince Serebryany”, and then wrote one after another three plays, which formed a dramatic trilogy: “The Death of John the Terrible,” “King Fyodor Ioannovich” and “The Tsar Boris “(1862-1869).
In the second half of the 60s Tolstoy returned to the ballad and created a number of excellent examples of this genre; the lyrics now occupy much less space in his work than in the 1950s.
Tolstoy lived widely. His material affairs gradually came to frustration. As early as 1862, he sold the estate to the agency in the Saratov Gubernia, and then some others, sold the woods on a frame, issued bills. Especially noticeable was the ruin of the late 60’s. The poet told his family that he could not live as he had lived until now, and he would be forced to ask Alexander II to take him to the service again. All this very much weighed him and did not infrequently exasperate him.
Since the mid-sixties Tolstoy’s health has been shaken. He began to suffer severely from asthma, thoracic toad, neuralgia, accompanied by painful headaches. Every year he went abroad to be treated, but it only helped for a short while. Tolstoy died October 10, 1875 in the Red Horn, injecting a large dose of morphine.