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Leo Tolstoy, or Count Lyev Nikolayevich Tolstoy[1] (September 9, 1828 – November 20, 1910[2]), was a Russian writer many consider to have been one of the world's greatest novelists.[3][4] His literary masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina represent, in their scope, breadth and vivid depiction of 19th-century Russian life and attitudes, the peak of realist fiction.[5]

Tolstoy's further talents as essayist, dramatist, and educational reformer made him the most influential member of the aristocratic Tolstoy family. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi[6] and Martin Luther King, Jr.[7]


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