Tatiana Sukhotina-Tolstaya

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I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by people who loved one another and who loved me.

Countess Tatiana Lvovna Sukhotina-Tolstaya (4 October 1864 – 21 September 1950), was a Russian painter and memoirist, the second child and oldest daughter of Leo Tolstoy.


  • One of my friends, Vasilii Maklakov, a learned and sharp-witted person, used to talk of Tolstoy's followers: "The one who understands Tolstoy does not become his follower. Whereas the one who becomes a follower does not understand him." I was often convinced of the truth of these words. There were many so called "Tolstoyans" amongst the numerous visitors who came from all over the world to meet father. More often than not they strove to resemble their teacher in their outward appearance without comprehending the real essence of his ideas. Those who understood Tolstoy could not follow in his footsteps. After all, Tolstoy felt that each person was free to live according to his own beliefs. And so, for those who understood Tolstoy the external appearances did not mean much. I once noticed an unknown young man amongst father's visitors. He was dressed in a Russian shirt, his trousers tucked into enormous boots. "Who is it?" I asked my father. Papa bent towards me and shielding his mouth with his hand whispered into my ear: "This young man belongs to an alien and totally beyond my understanding, sect—the Tolstoyan sect."
    • Flashbacks, trans. Namita Sinha and Kalpana Sahni, in Reminiscences on Tolstoy, ed. Kalpana Sahni, Humanities Press, 1980, pp. 49–50.

Tolstoy Remembered (1975)[edit]

Trans. Derek Coltman. London: Michael Joseph, 1977.
  • I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by people who loved one another and who loved me. I assumed then that such loving relationships were only natural, an inherent characteristic of human nature. And despite a long existence during which I have since encountered cruelty and hatred between men, that is still my belief. I am truly convinced to this day that such behaviour is no more normal than illness is. And that, like illness, it is produced by transgressing the fundamental laws of life.
    • p. 16
'A little boy went into a garden. He saw a cucumber. A cucumber as big as this'
  • We also loved a certain story papa used to tell us. It was called 'the Seven Cucumbers' … 'A little boy went into a garden. He saw a cucumber. A cucumber as big as this (holding up his two forefingers to demonstrate the length). He picked it, hup!, and ate it. (The voice quite matter of fact so far, and pitched fairly high.) The little boy continued on his way and saw a second cucumber, a cucumber as big as this. Hup! He ate it. (The voice now slightly louder and deeper.) He went on, he saw a third cucumber, a cucumber as big as this (the forefingers indicating a length of about eighteen inches), and hup ! He ate it. … And so it went on until the seventh cucumber, with papa's voice getting louder and louder, deeper and deeper … When papa showed how the little boy ate the seventh cucumber his mouth with its missing teeth opened so wide it was frightening to see.
    • p. 37
Do you know why my father is buried under a little mound in the shade of some old oak trees, there in Yasnaya Polyana wood?
  • Do you know why my father is buried under a little mound in the shade of some old oak trees, there in Yasnaya Polyana wood? It is because that spot conjured up for him a childhood memory particularly dear to his heart. The oldest of the Tolstoy children, Nicolai, who had a great influence on all his brothers, and particularly on my father, had told him that just there, in that particular part of the wood, he had secretly buried a little green stick on which he had carved a magic spell. Whoever found that wand would become its master, and would have the power to make everyone in the world happy. Hatred, war, disease, grief, and misfortunes would disappear from the face of the earth, all men would know happiness and become 'Muravei Brothers', or in other words 'Ant Brothers.' 'That phrase appealed to me particularly,' my father remarked later, 'because it made me think of all the members of an anthill living together in perfect harmony.'
    • pp. 155–156
  • My father was accustomed to say that disorders of the mind are simply a heightened form of egoism. And it was certainly in this form that my mother's psychological anomalies presented themselves. She who had once been always ready to give of herself totally, without any thought of self, now fell prey to a single morbid preoccupation: what other people were saying about her. What would they say about her in the future? Might they one day, after her death, treat her as a Xantippe? And she had some grounds for such fears, since she was surrounded by people who pitied her husband for all she made him endure.
    • p. 228
  • Calm had come to her during her final years. Her husband's dream for her had in part come true, that transformation for which he would have sacrificed all his fame. My father's ideas had become less alien to her. She had become a vegetarian. She was kind to those around her. But she had retained one weakness: she was still afraid of what people would say and write about her when she had gone, she feared for her reputation. As a result she never let slip the slightest opportunity of justifying her words and actions.
    • p. 243

Quotes about Tatiana Tolstaya[edit]

  • Tanya strove to reconcile her parents. She was very fond of her mother, but she sympathized with her father's views and she pleaded with her mother to make some concessions.
    • Alexandra Tolstaya, Tolstoy: A Life of My Father, trans. Elizabeth R. Hapgood (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1953), p. 311.

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