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66 Leo Tolstoy Quotes To Nourish Your Soul

Gaurav Athavale Mar 17, 2020
One of the most popular writers of modern time, Leo Tolstoy also was a thinker and philosopher, who inspired millions by his words. Penlighten has some of his best and most famous quotes along with a brief historical background.

Did You Know?

Leo Tolstoy married Sophia Andreyevna Behrs in 1862. She was younger than him by sixteen years, and together they had thirteen children (all of them Counts and Countesses). Three of these children died in the infant stage, whereas the last one to expire was Countess Alexandra Lvovna Tolstaya in 1979, the youngest daughter of Leo Tolstoy.
On September 9, 1828, Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Leo Tolstoy) was born in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia, in a noble Russian family.
His father was Count Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoy, who was a war veteran. When Leo was a child, his parents died, and hence, he was raised along with his siblings by some relatives.
Around 1850, he joined the army, wherein his writing skills began to develop. Before this, his studies began at the Kazan University, but he was labeled by his teachers as not being able to learn properly.
After meeting Victor Hugo in 1860, the literature and related skills of Tolstoy improved tremendously, and by the time he was out of the military service, he had already started writing. Some of his famous books include the War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, etc.
Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth is one of his first literary works, which is basically about the differences that existed between a rich son of a landlord and the peasants.
The writing style of Leo Tolstoy was based much on his life experiences, both before and after his service in the army. Read the following section for some of the hand-picked sayings and quotes of this world-famous writer from his books and otherwise.

Famous Leo Tolstoy Quotes

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

"Man lives consciously for himself, but serves as an unconscious instrument for the achievement of historical, universally human goals."

"If you look for perfection, you'll never be content."
"It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness." 

"I think, if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts."

"There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness, and truth."
"Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be."

"If you want to be happy, be."

"The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity."
"We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom."

"Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?"

"Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them."
"Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed."

"Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women."
"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back."
"Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking."
"All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love."

"Be bad, but at least don't be a liar, a deceiver!"
"A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor - such is my idea of happiness."
"All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

"Anything is better than lies and deceit!"

"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow."
"Everything was made bright by her. She was the smile that shed light all around her."

"If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war."

"And so there was no single cause for war, but it happened simply because it had to happen."
"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral."

"One must be cunning and wicked in this world."
"Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source."
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it."

"You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love."
"The whole world is divided for me into two parts: one is she, and there is all happiness, hope, light; the other is where she is not, and there is dejection and darkness."

"It's not given to people to judge what's right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong."
"You say: I am not free. But I have raised and lowered my arm. Everyone understands that this illogical answer is an irrefutable proof of freedom."

"There will be today, there will be tomorrow, there will be always, and there was yesterday, and there was the day before."
"Kings are the slaves of history."

"Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy."
"Human science fragments everything in order to understand it, kills everything in order to examine it."

"It's all God's will: you can die in your sleep, and God can spare you in battle."

"In the best, the friendliest and simplest relations flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning."
"Everything I know, I know because of

"We are asleep until we fall in Love!"

"Man cannot possess anything as long as he fears death. But to him who does not fear it, everything belongs. If there was no suffering, man would not know his limits, would not know himself."
"I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself."

"If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed."

"True life is lived when tiny changes occur."
"The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise than according to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life."
"In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful."
"War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves."

"Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold."

"Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life is impossible."

"We lost because we told ourselves we lost."
"If there existed no external means for dimming their consciences, one-half of the men would at once shoot themselves, because to live contrary to one's reason is a most intolerable state, and all men of our time are in such a state."
"Art is the uniting of the subjective with the objective, of nature with reason, of the unconscious with the conscious, and therefore art is the highest means of knowledge."

"I know that my unity with all people cannot be destroyed by national boundaries and government orders."
"Progress consists only in the greater clarification of answers to the basic questions of life. The truth is always accessible to a man. It can't be otherwise, because a man's soul is a divine spark, the truth itself."
"You will die and find out everything, ― or cease asking."

"Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait."
"History is the life of nations and of humanity. To seize and put into words, to describe directly the life of humanity or even of a single nation, appears impossible."

"And all people live, not by reason of any care they have for themselves, but by the love for them that is in other people."
"Joy can only be real if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness."
Leo Tolstoy died in 1910, aged 82, due to pneumonia, and hence was being taken care of by his family. Apart from his quotes and literature, he also has inspired the making of numerous films like 'Departure of a Grand Old Man' (1912), 'How Fine, How Fresh the Roses Were' (1913), 'The Last Station' (2009), and 'Leo Tolstoy' (1984).