80+ Powerful Leo Tolstoy Quotes

Leo Tolstoy Quotes

Leo Tolstoy is one of the most celebrated and renowned authors of all time, known for his epic novels such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Born in 1828 in Russia, Tolstoy was a man of many talents, including being a writer, philosopher, and social reformer. He was a key figure in the literary world, known for his insightful and thought-provoking writing that explored themes of morality, love, and the human condition. His works have been translated into many languages and have had a profound impact on literature, philosophy, and culture.

Tolstoy’s influence on literature and culture is undeniable, and his legacy continues to live on through his powerful and timeless quotes. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the most famous and inspiring Leo Tolstoy quotes that have stood the test of time and continue to resonate with readers today. From his thoughts on love and life to his musings on the human condition, Tolstoy’s words are as powerful and relevant today as they were when he first wrote them.

Some of the quotes appear in the following video:

Table of Contents

Leo Tolstoy Quotes of Life

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way


Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women.


There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.


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.


Nothing, can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.


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.


I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself.


If you want to be happy, be.


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.


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


The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.


We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.


A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, ‘Today I’m going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep.’


If you look for perfection, you will never be satisfied.


All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.


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.


Music is the shorthand of emotion.


The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.


One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.


Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six.



The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded.


The law condemns and punishes only actions within certain definite and narrow limits; it thereby justifies, in a way, all similar actions that lie outside those limits.


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


A truly wise man is always joyful.


Boredom: the desire for desires.


An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life – becoming a better person.


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.


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.


Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of humanity.


All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.


Everything comes in time to him who knows how to wait.


True life is lived when tiny changes occur.


It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.


Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them.


Our body is a machine for living. It is organized for that; it is its nature. Let life go on in it unhindered and let it defend itself.


I often think that men don’t understand what is noble and what is ignorant, though they always talk about it.


Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.


If you’re not enjoying your work, you should either change your attitude or change your job.


Anything is better than lies and deceit.


It’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.


And you know, there’s less charm in life when you think about death–but it’s more peaceful.


Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.


Rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbour — such is my idea of happiness.


I wanted feeling to guide us in life, and not life to be the guide to feeling.


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.


Have a goal in life. A goal for a certain time, for a year, for a month, for a week, for a day or for an hour and for a minute, sacrificing lower goals to highest.


If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life.


People try to do all sorts of clever and difficult things to improve life instead of doing the simplest, easiest thing – which is refusing to participate in activities that make life bad.


There is only one enduring happiness in life – to live for others.


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.

Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Love

You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.


Yes, love, but not the love that loves for something, to gain something, or because of something, but that love that I felt for the first time, when dying, I saw my enemy and yet loved him.


We are asleep until we fall in love!


Everything I know, I know because of love.


I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed.


Love those that hate you, but to love those one hates is impossible.


I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.


Every heart has its own skeletons.


All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.


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.


Love. The reason I dislike that word is that it means too much for me, far more than you can understand.


But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.


He was afraid of defiling the love which filled his soul.


Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.


If you love me as you say you do, make it so that I am at peace.


I have learnt that all men live not by care for themselves, but by love.


Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.


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.


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.

Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Faith, God, and Religion

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


The chief difference between words and deeds is that words are always intended for men for their approbation, but deeds can be done only for God.


God is the same everywhere.


Faith is the sense of life, that sense by virtue of which man does not destroy himself, but continues to live on. It is the force whereby we live.


Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.


To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one’s sufferings, in undeserved sufferings.


There is one evident, indubitable manifestation of the Divinity, and that is the laws of right which are made known to the world through Revelation.

Leo Tolstoy Quotes on War

War on the other hand is such a terrible thing, that no man, especially a Christian man, has the right to assume the responsibility of starting it.


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


War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves.


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.

Interesting Facts about Leo Tolstoy

Now, here are some interesting facts you may not know, about Leo Tolstoy, author of Anna Karenina and War and Peace.

  1. Tolstoy’s wife Helped “War and Peace” Get Done – In 1862, Leo Tolstoy got married to Sophia Behrs. At the time, he was 34 years old and she was only 18 years old. That same year, he already began writing what would eventually become “War and Peace”, but it didn’t go smoothly at all. Tolstoy was always revising and Sophia had a great deal in the process of getting this novel come to life, as she was responsible for writing each of Tolstoy’s revision by hand. It took 7 years for her to re-write the complete manuscript no less than 8 times until the book was finally published.
  2. A Tough Marriage – At first, the couple were attracted to each other, but it seems that the marriage of Tolstoy and his wife Behrs was far from being peaceful. From the very beginning, things were not ideal, as the night before the two got married, Tolstoy forced Sophia to read his diaries, which were full of his premarital sexual exploits. With time, Tolstoy got more and more interested in spiritual matters, and in the process his interest in his family decreased. This left all the burden on Sophia along with Tolstoy’s changing moods. At one point, Sophia demanded that Tolstoy sign over control of his publishing royalties so he wouldn’t bankrupt the family, and by 1910, he decided to leave house with one of his daughters, never to return home. Eventually, Tolstoy died at the rural outpost on November 20, 1910 due to pneumonia.
  3. He Was All About Self-Improvement – Partially inspired by Benjamin Franklin, Tolstoy decided to create a seemingly endless list of rules by which he aspired to live. Some were pretty easy to implement, like, getting into bed by 10 at night and getting up to start the day at 5 in the morning. He also strived to avoid sweet foods and eat moderately. Other tasks seemed more demanding in Tolstoy’s life, like his desire to limit his visits to the brothel to only two times per month, and limit or control his gambling habits. He kept a Journal of Daily Occupations, where he wrote how he spent his day and how he plans to spend the next day, but that’s not all, as he also compiled a list of his moral failures that went on and on and just kept growing in his attempts to improve himself.
  4. Excommunicated by The Russian Orthodox Church – As Tolstoy turned more and more successful after he published “Anna Karenina”, he also started questioning his aristocratic background, which caused him to undergo a series of emotional and spiritual crises. He no longer kept the same old beliefs he had about organized religion, and began seeing it as well as its leaders corrupt. As it came to be, Tolstoy rejected his old religious rituals and also started attacking the role of the state and the concept of property rights. This caused the government to put him under police surveillance, and in 1901, the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated him.
  5. He Inspired Gandhi and a Cult – Religious as well as royal leaders in Russia were hoping to diminish Tolstoy’s popularity, but instead, he quickly began attracting adherents to his new faith. This new faith and way of life mixed pacifism with Christian anarchism, which thought living a morally and physically ascetic lifestyle. Some of his students and followers decided to move onto his estate, in order to be nearer to their leader and teacher, while thousands of others established settlements in Russia and around the world. There are even some that remained operational to this day, including at least two in England. Mahatma Gandhi was also influenced by Tolstoy’s social beliefs. He even established a cooperative colony in South Africa, which he named after Tolstoy. He shared with Tolstoy his own spiritual and philosophical views and evolution, particularly with Tolstoy’s teachings on peaceful non-resistance to evil.

For more quotes from famous authors, please visit our pages dedicated to Jane Austen quotes, Neil Gaiman quotes, Ray Bradbury quotes, and Sylvia Plath quotes.

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