The famous Russian
writer and moral philosopher Leo Tolstoy made a great impact in the literary world during the later half of the 19th
century and the beginning of the 20th. In fact he is heralded as one of the world’s greatest novelists. His
writings had such an impact that it was only natural that he should influence not only other authors but the writings of spiritual
and political leaders as well.
Tolstoy first achieved
fame in Russia, but news of him spread quickly abroad. Critics from western societies praised
his works for their “psychological realism and the breadth of (his) approach” (“Leo Tolstoy”). It was this psychological realism and Tolstoy’s ability to analyze that have
had the strongest impact and played the biggest part in helping to shape 20th century literature.
One famous writer who
was influenced by the works of Leo Tolstoy was Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf was a 20th century English novelist
and essayist and is widely regarded as one of the foremost modern literary figures of her time, much like Tolstoy. She greatly
enjoyed Russian Literature and she began reading Tolstoy at an early age.
The influence of Tolstoy
is perhaps most apparent in her fiction books however, which deal with war and social classes in many instances, much like
Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace”. Wolf once said of Tolstoy that through him modernists were able to “brake
away” and develop a news style of literature (Protopopova).
Another author Tolstoy
influenced was James Joyce. Joyce was also a forefront writer of the 20th century. Many of his works feature common
traits of Tolstoy’s including realism and a focus on everyday life (in 20th century Ireland). In addition, he, like Tolstoy, had issues with religion and eventually
renounced his faith. Joyce noted of Tolstoy that “he is never dull, never stupid, never tired, never pedantic, never
theatrical! He is head and shoulders over the others” (Barger).
A fellow Russian author
that was influenced by Tolstoy was Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov was a realism writer as well. In all of his writings there is
an inherent pattern to be discovered by nature. He was very detailed much like Tolstoy. He was also known as a very harsh
critic, so it really is quite a complement to Tolstoy when Nabokov placed him as one of the best fiction writers.
influence was great in the literary world. These are only a sample of some of the authors he has influenced. In addition he
played a major role in shaping the literary modernism movement. Tolstoy’s influence has not been limited to essays and
novels however. He greatly influenced other people too such as Mohandas Gandhi, who in turn influenced others like Martin
Luther king Jr. who in turn still inspires others today. Through these influences Tolstoy’s works, ideas, and legacy
lives on to influence others.