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Leo Tolstoy Collection


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Tolstoy, Leo, graf, 1828-1910

Count Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist and philosopher, is considered one of the world's greatest writers. Tolstoy was born of a noble family at Yasnaya Polyana, his parents' estate near Tula in Russia.

It was while he was in the army that he wrote the first of his autobiographical trilogy Childhood (1852). Tolstoy's masterpiece writings are War and Peace (1862–1869) and Anna Karenina (1873–76). Tolstoy went through a period of puritanism and self-examination which resulted in his conversion to the doctrine of Christian love and acceptance of the principle of nonresistance to evil. He was an anarchist to the extent that he considered wrong all organizations based on the premise of force, including both the government and the church. However, because of his prestige, the government did not interfere with his activities, although the Russian Church excommunicated him in 1901. Moral questions are central to Tolstoy's later works, which include the novel The Kreutzer Sonata (1889).

The collection consists of correspondence by and about Tolstoy, a portrait of Tolstoy, and a copy of Tolstoy's Kreĭt︠s︡erova sonata. There is a signed autograph letter from Tolstoy to Benedict L. Prieth, Princeton Class of 1891, dated January 30 - February 12, 1907, concerning the death of Ernest Howard Crosby, the American author and friend of Tolstoy. The letter is written in English from his father's estate, "Yasnaya Polyana"" There are two other letters regarding Tolstoy's letter to Prieth. The first is from Eberhard L. Faber, Princeton Class of 1915, dated November 20, 1925. In his letter, Faber forwards to his uncle, Benedict Prieth, a letter from Ernest Crosby and the above mentioned letter from Tolstoy, and informs his uncle of the value of that letter. The second letter is from Benedict Prieth to Philip B. Townley, again forwarding the same Tolstoy letter and pointing to its unusual dates; he asks Townley to retain it for safekeeping.

The portrait is in blue and white pencil and crayon by L. L. Tolstoi (Tolstoy's son), drawn from memory on January 2, 1922, in Paris. It bears an inscription and the signature of the younger Tolstoy on the verso. The manuscript copy of Tolstoy's Kreĭt︠s︡erova sonata, which is based on Ludwig van Beethoven's "Kreutzer sonata," is a hectograph process reproduction of a handwritten text in Russian. This copy (109 pp., 29 x 19.1 cm.) bears the inscription of N. Simonov and the date 1890 on p.1 of the wrapper.

Folders are arranged in alphabetical order.

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

The copy of the sonata was originally part of "The Georges Florovsky Papers" at Princeton University, which was purchased on June 19, 1978.

Letters of Tolstoy, Prieth, and Faber were a gift of Mr. Philip B. Townley, Princeton Class of 1920, on December 13, 1977.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Collection Inventory

Faber, Eberhard L: Letter to Benedict L. Prieth Concerning Tolstoy Letters, 30 November 1925. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Prieth, Benedict L: Letter to Philip B. Townley, 1 December 1925. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Manuscript of "Kreutzer Sonata," Copied by N. Simonov, 1890. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Tolstoy, Leo: Letter to Benedict L. Prieth, 1907. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

"Léon Tolstoi par Son Fils L. L. Tolstoi", 2 January 1922. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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