Today is Tolstoy’s 186th birthday (9 Sept. 1828-20 Nov. 1910), and Google has celebrated with an animated Doodle recounting his best works. You can get to it by clicking on the screenshot below, and you advance from work to work by clicking on the arrows that will appear.
The Guardian took a break from its atheist-bashing to explain both the Doodle and the intentions of the artist, Roman Muradov. Be sure to click on the link to see Muradov’s piece:
Artist Roman Muradov has also picked out scenes from The Death of Ivan Ilyich for his Google doodle. In a piece written for the search engine, the illustrator, who has also recently designed and illustrated the centennial edition of James Joyce’s Dubliners for Penguin Classics, said the tribute to Tolstoy was a “daunting task”.
“No set of images can sum up a body of work so astonishing in scope, complexity, and vigour – its memorable scenes come to life with seeming effortlessness, fully realised in the immortal lines and between them,” he wrote. “Tolstoy’s lasting influence is a testament to the power of his art, which will remain relevant as long as the questions of life and death occupy our minds, which is to say – forever.”
Tolstoy wrote what I consider to be the best novel of all time, Anna Karenina, though I’ve read it only in the Constance Garnett translation and I’m told there are even better ones. His second-best piece (though not the second best work of all time, which I consider to be The Dead) is The Death of Ivan Ilych, which is a gut-wrencher. It was such a realistic portrayal of death that it was once (and still is, I think) used in medical schools to teach students what it is like to die, and to make them more empathic.
Hail to the Lev! Here he is at age 20, looking nothing like the bearded patriarch he became later: