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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.

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 photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

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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