Nels Mattson's Reviews > Childhood, Boyhood, Youth

Childhood, Boyhood, Youth by Leo Tolstoy
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's review
Sep 28, 2007

really liked it
Read in October, 2007

Like Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, this novel was written early on in Tolstoy's career. Both novels are fictional yet clearly based on the author's youth. Where Joyce focuses on his literary origins, Tolstoy attempts to outline the different stages of youth as a whole. The result is a beautifully warm biography of one of the gentlest men to have ever walked this Earth.

It's fascinating reading a novel written by a brilliant author when he was 25 just after I myself turned 25. Can someone really write a masterpiece at such a young age? Can someone really have a complete understanding of love without ever having experienced it? Much later on in the novel, the narrator takes an entire chapter to expound on his theory of love, which is clearly Tolstoy's jaded theory of love. He lists 3 types of love and states that he's skeptical of young love, which I would say romantic love is too broad and love at first sight is too narrow. The novel ends with the protagonist joining the army. Sevastapol is Tolstoy's account of the Crimean War, so I'm assuming he intended this to be the sequel he alluded to in the first novel. It'll be interesting to see if Tolstoy's understanding of love changes throughout the decades in his writing.

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