Title Image - Quotes by Author Leo TolstoyPhoto Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Leo Tolstoy. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Leo Tolstoy

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой, tr. Lev Nikoláyevich Tolstóy, IPA: [lʲef nʲɪkɐˈla(j)ɪvʲɪtɕ tɐlˈstoj] (listen); 9 September, [O.S. 28 August] 1828 – 20 November, [O.S. 7 November] 1910), usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906 and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909. That he never won is a major controversy.

Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, Tolstoy is best known for the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878), often cited as pinnacles of realist fiction. He first achieved literary acclaim in his twenties with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852–1856), and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), based upon his experiences in the Crimean War. His fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), Family Happiness (1859), and Hadji Murad (1912). He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.

In the 1870s, Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work A Confession (1882). His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894), had a profound impact on such pivotal 20th-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He also became a dedicated advocate of Georgism, the economic philosophy of Henry George, which he incorporated into his writing, particularly Resurrection (1899).

A bad mood is often the reason for blaming others; but very often blaming others causes bad feelings in us: The more we blame others, the worse we feel.

--Leo Tolstoy

Art is a human activity having for its purpose the transmission to others of the highest and best feelings to which men have risen.

--Leo Tolstoy

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

--Leo Tolstoy

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

A holy spirit lives within you.

--Leo Tolstoy

Every misconception is a poison: there are no harmless misconceptions.

--Leo Tolstoy

All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

--Leo Tolstoy

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

--Leo Tolstoy

Life is a transition from one form to another. The life of this world is the material for a new form.

--Leo Tolstoy

The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.

--Leo Tolstoy

Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.

--Leo Tolstoy

A cigar is a sort of thing, not exactly a pleasure, but the crown and outward sign of pleasure.

--Leo Tolstoy

What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.

--Leo Tolstoy

Time is a perpetual motion, without a single moment of rest.

--Leo Tolstoy

The first rule of achieving goodness is this: think only about self-perfection.

--Leo Tolstoy

The earth is the general and equal possession of all humanity and therefore cannot be the property of individuals.

--Leo Tolstoy

The Jew is the emblem of civil and religious toleration. Love the stranger and the sojourner, Moses commands, because you have been strangers in the land of Egypt.

--Leo Tolstoy

Pure and complete is as impossible as pure and complete joy.

--Leo Tolstoy

Boredom, the desire for desires.

--Leo Tolstoy

These men are looked upon as the most malevolent, the most dangerous, and generally as the most unbelieving of all human beings, and yet they are the only men of our time believing in the Gospel doctrine, if not as a whole, at least in part.

--Leo Tolstoy

The cudgel of the people's war was lifted with all its menacing and majestic might, and caring nothing for good taste and procedure, with dull-witted simplicity but sound judgement it rose and fell, making no distinctions.

--Leo Tolstoy

Truth, like gold is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.

--Leo Tolstoy

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

--Leo Tolstoy

If you want to be happy, be!

--Leo Tolstoy

Follow the best way of life you possibly can, and habit will make this way suitable and pleasant to you.

--Leo Tolstoy

I often think how unfairly life's good fortune is sometimes distributed.

--Leo Tolstoy

Love those you hate you.

--Leo Tolstoy

Never did Christ utter a single word attesting to a personal resurrection and a life beyond the grave.

--Leo Tolstoy

And the cause of everything is that which we call God.

--Leo Tolstoy

I don't think anything, she said, but I always loved you, and if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be.

--Leo Tolstoy

Anna smiled,as people smile at the weaknesses of those they love.

--Leo Tolstoy

Whatever our fate is or may be, we have made it and do not complain of it.

--Leo Tolstoy

I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt it in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life.

--Leo Tolstoy

Childhood candor... shall I ever find you again?

--Leo Tolstoy

There are no conditions to which a person cannot grow accustomed, especially if he sees that everyone around him lives in the same way.

--Leo Tolstoy

Except life's usual answer to the most complex and insoluble questions. That answer is: live in the needs of the day, that is find forgetfulness.

--Leo Tolstoy

What's all this love of arguing? No one ever convinces anyone else.

--Leo Tolstoy

Debates conceal rather than reveal the truth. Truth is revealed in solitude.

--Leo Tolstoy

Can it be that I have overlooked something, that there is something which I have failed to understand? Is it not possible that this state of despair is common to everyone?

--Leo Tolstoy

Man survives earthquakes, epidemics, the horrors of disease, and agonies of the soul, but all the time his most tormenting tragedy has been, is, and will always be, the tragedy of the bedroom.

--Leo Tolstoy

He began to pray, and was obsessed by the fear lest he should die without having done any good in the world; he longed to live, and to live so as to achieve the renunciation of self.

--Leo Tolstoy

To destroy governmental violence, only one thing is needed: It is that people should understand that the feeling of patriotism, which alone supports that instrument of violence, is a rude, harmful, disgraceful, and bad feeling, and, above all, is immoral.

--Leo Tolstoy

You're not going to be different ... you're going to be the same as you've always been; with doubts, everlasting dissatisfaction with yourself, vain efforts to amend, and falls, and everlasting expectation, of a happiness which you won't get, and which isn't possible for you.

--Leo Tolstoy

I ask one thing only: I ask for the right to hope, to suffer as I do. But if even that cannot be, command me to disappear, and I disappear. You shall not see me if my presence is distasteful to you.

--Leo Tolstoy

And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness, flickered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever.

--Leo Tolstoy

But really, why should you distress yourself? Whoever stirs up the past -- out with his eye! Who is not a sinner before God and to blame before the Tsar, as the saying is?

--Leo Tolstoy

He looked at her as a man looks at a faded flower he has gathered , with difficulty recognizing the beauty for which he picked and ruined it.

--Leo Tolstoy

The simplest and shortest ethical precept is to be served as little as possible ... and to serve others as much as possible.

--Leo Tolstoy

In precisely the same way the specialty of government is not to obey, but to enforce obedience. And a government is only a government so long as it can make itself obeyed, and therefore it always strives for that and will never willingly abandon its power.

--Leo Tolstoy

It is not enough to be a hardworking person. Think: what do you work at?

--Leo Tolstoy

Just fancy! One can hear and see the grass growing,' thought Levin, as he noticed wet slate-coloured aspen leaf move close to the point of a blade of grass.

--Leo Tolstoy

All governments are in equal measure good and evil. The best ideal is anarchy.

--Leo Tolstoy

Once we're thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it's only here that the new and the good begins.

--Leo Tolstoy

Every man had his personal habits, passions, and impulses toward goodness, beauty, and truth.

--Leo Tolstoy

I have learned what must be, and therefore have come to see the whole horror of what is.

--Leo Tolstoy

The activity of art is... as important as the activity of language itself, and as universal.

--Leo Tolstoy

The improvement of life was only accomplished to the extent to which it was based on a change of consciousness, that is, to the extent to which the law of violence was replaced in men's consciousness by the law of love.

--Leo Tolstoy

Nekhlúdoff clearly saw that all these people were arrested, locked up, exiled, not really because they transgressed against justice or behaved unlawfully, but only because they were an obstacle hindering the officials and the rich from enjoying the property they had taken away from the people.

--Leo Tolstoy

But Levin was in love, and so it seemed to him that Kitty was so perfect in every respect that she was a creature far above everything earthly; and that he was a creature so low and so earthly that it could not even be conceived that other people and she herself could regard him as worthy of her.

--Leo Tolstoy

Often a man goes on for years imaging that the religious teaching that had been imparted to him since childhood is still intact, while all the time there is not a trace of it left in him.

--Leo Tolstoy

The Jew -- is the symbol of eternity. … He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.

--Leo Tolstoy

Blessed are the peacemakers; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

--Leo Tolstoy

In order to get the power and retain it, it is necessary to love power; but love of power is not connected with goodness, but with qualities which are the opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning, cruelty.

--Leo Tolstoy

The only happy marriages I know are arranged ones.

--Leo Tolstoy

How can one be well...when one suffers morally?

--Leo Tolstoy

But she was not even grateful to him for it; nothing good on Pierre's part seemed to her to be an effort, it seemed so natural for him to be kind to everyone that there was no merit in his kindness.

--Leo Tolstoy

One is ashamed to say how little is needed for all men to be delivered from those calamities which now oppress them; it is only needful not to lie.

--Leo Tolstoy

There was no answer, except the general answer life gives to all the most complex and insoluble questions. That answer is: one must live for the needs of the day, in other words, become oblivious.

--Leo Tolstoy

It is a rude feeling, because it is natural only to people standing on the lowest level of morality, and expecting from other nations such outrages as they themselves are ready to inflict.

--Leo Tolstoy

He felt like a man who, after straining his eyes to peer into the remote distance, finds what he was seeking at his very feet. All his life he had been looking over the heads of those around him, while he had only to look before him without straining his eyes. p 1320.

--Leo Tolstoy

Upon meeting, you're judged by your clothes, upon parting you're judged by your wits.

--Leo Tolstoy

And people strive not for the good in life, but for goods they can call their own.

--Leo Tolstoy

Life is too long to say anything definitely; always say perhaps.

--Leo Tolstoy

He was one of those diplomats who like and know how to work, and, despite his laziness, he occasionally spent nights at his desk.

--Leo Tolstoy

By patriotism is meant, not only spontaneous, instinctive love for one's own nation, and preference for it above all other nations, but also the belief that such love and preference are good and useful.

--Leo Tolstoy

You say: I am not free. But I have raised and lowered my arm. Everyone understands that this illogical answer is an irrefutable proof of freedom.

--Leo Tolstoy

As often happens between men who have chosen different pursuits, each, while in argument justifying the other's activity, despised it in the depth of his heart.

--Leo Tolstoy

Well, pray if you like, only you'd do better to use your judgment.

--Leo Tolstoy

If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects, a reward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.

--Leo Tolstoy

I can't understand how anyone can write without rewriting everything over and over again.

--Leo Tolstoy

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.

--Leo Tolstoy

But if Christianity really gives peace, and we really want peace, patriotism is a survival from barbarous times, which must not only not be evoked and educated, as we now do, but which must be eradicated by all means, by means of preaching, persuasion, contempt, and ridicule.

--Leo Tolstoy

It was clear that everything considered important and good was insignificant and repulsive, and that all this glamour and luxury hid the old well-known crimes, which not only remained unpunished but were adorned with all the splendor men can devise.

--Leo Tolstoy

Live in the needs of the day.

--Leo Tolstoy

He was always in a hurry to get where he was not.

--Leo Tolstoy

I was shy by nature, and rendered worse in that respect by a consciousness of my own ugliness. I am certain that nothing so much influences the development of a man as his exterior--though the exterior itself less than his belief in its plainness or beauty.

--Leo Tolstoy


While I doubted, I had hope; but now there is no hope left and all the same I doubt everything.

--Leo Tolstoy

Levin tried to drink a little coffee, and put a piece of roll into his mouth, but his mouth could do nothing with it. He took the piece out of his mouth, put on his overcoat and went out to walk about again.

--Leo Tolstoy

And so there was no single cause for war, but it happened simply because it had to happen.

--Leo Tolstoy

Everything was made bright by her. She was the smile that shed light all around her.

--Leo Tolstoy

Know a quote that we are missing? Please use our suggest a quote form below and let us know. Thank YOU for visiting -- we wish you a perfect day!