Reminiscences of Tolstoy
AT this point I shall turn back and try to trace the influence which my father had on my
upbringing, and I shall recall as well as I can the impressions that he left on my mind in
my childhood, and later in the melancholy days of my early manhood, which happened to
coincide with the radical change in his whole philosophy of life.
In 1852, tired of life in the Caucasus and remembering his old home at Yasnaya Polyana,
he wrote to his aunt, Tatyana Alexandrovna:
After some years, I shall find myself, neither very young nor very old, back at Yasnaya
Polyana again: my affairs will all be in order; I shall have no anxieties for the future and
no troubles in the present.
You also will be living at Yasnaya. You will be getting a little old, but you will be
healthy and vigorous. We shall lead the life we led in the old days; I shall work in the
mornings, but we shall meet and see each other almost all day.
We shall dine together in the evening. I shall read you something that interests you. Then
we shall talk: I shall tell you about my life in the Caucasus; you will give me
reminiscences of my father and mother; you will tell me some of those "terrible stories"
to which we used to listen in the old days with frightened eyes and open mouths.
We shall talk about the people that we loved and who are no more.
You will cry, and I, too; but our tears will be refreshing, tranquilizing tears. We shall talk
about my brothers, who will visit us from time to time, and about dear Masha, who will
also spend several months every year at Yasnaya, which she loves, with all her children.
We shall have no acquaintances; no one will come in to bore us with gossip.
It is a wonderful dream; but that is not all that I let myself dream of.
I shall be married. My wife will be gentle, kind, and affectionate; she will love you as I
do; we shall have children who will call you granny; you will live in the big house, in the
same room on the top floor where my grandmother lived before.
The whole house will be run on the same lines as it was in my father's time, and we shall
begin the same life over again, but with a change of roles.
You will take my grandmother's place, but you will be better still than she was; I shall
take my father's place, though I can never hope to be worthy of the honor.
My wife will take my mother's place, and the children ours.