Tolstoy, who was born in 1828 and died in 1910, was a member of the Russian nobility, from a family that owned an estate and hundreds of serfs. The early life of the young count was raucous, debauched and violent.
“I killed men in wars and challenged men to duels in order to kill them,” he wrote. “I lost at cards, consumed the labor of the peasants, sentenced them to punishments, lived loosely, and deceived people... so I lived for ten years.”
But he gradually weaned himself off his decadent, racy lifestyle and rejected the received beliefs of his aristocratic background, adopting a radical, unconventional worldview that shocked his peers. So how exactly might his personal journey help us rethink our own philosophies of life?