Interactive Google Doodle celebrates Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy

9 Sep 2014

Author Leo Tolstoy

Internet search giant Google has published a new interactive doodle that celebrates the life and works of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace, on the 186th anniversary of his birth.

Today’s stylised Google logo on the company’s homepage consists of cartoon vignettes that capture scenes from Tolstoy’s best-known works, including War and Peace, Anna Karenina and the Death of Ivan Ilych.

Born Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy on 9 September 1828 in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia, much of Tolstoy’s observations about life in 19th-century Russia were captured in his novels.

Tolstoy served as a second lieutenant during the Crimean War and novels such as Anna Karenina evoke life among the Cossacks during that era.

His book War and Peace, which recounts the events of Napoleon’s doomed march on Moscow in 1812, is considered one of the greatest books ever written.

The Google Doodle that honours author Leo Tolstoy

As well as his literary achievements, Tolstoy is known for his social and ascetic values and trips to Europe in the 1850s and 1860s – including one where he witnessed a public execution in Paris – shaped his political views and disdain for governments everywhere.

During his trips to Europe he became acquainted with French writer Victor Hugo.

A passionate believer in democratic education for the masses, Tolstoy returned from Europe and established 13 schools for his serfs’ children. However, harassment from the Tsar’s secret police stymied his efforts.

Tolstoy died from pneumonia at a train station in Astapovo in 1910 at the age of 82, after renouncing his aristocratic lifestyle and separating from his wife.

Declared by writer Virginia Woolf as the greatest of all novelists, he was also remembered by Irish writer James Joyce: “He is never dull, never stupid, never tired, never pedantic, never theatrical!”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years