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As a passionate and not very self-confident person, Tolstoy managed to turn his own marriage and relationship with his future wife into a rather exalted performance. Lev Nikolayevich himself, who lost his mother at the age of two and his father at the age of nine, had no personal experience of family organization.
Therefore, Tolstoy treated this topic in the same way as he treated creativity – with absolute maximalism. The sacred union of a man and a woman, in his opinion, should form a symbiotic personality, that is, free both from the need for personal boundaries. It is clear that the choice of a couple had to be done with all responsibility. Tolstoy has been engaged in this choice since the age of 20.
After going through several candidates, he became more and more interested in girls from the family of Dr. Bers, an old acquaintance of the Tolstoys. The Berses had three daughters: Lisa, Sonya and the younger Tanya. At first, the girls’ parents were sure that Tolstoy was in love with the older Lisa. She was waiting for a marriage proposal. However, Tolstoy hesitated and suffered from doubts. “One calculation is not enough, but there is no feeling,” Tolstoy wrote in his diary in the fall of 1861. Soon, the youngest of the sisters, Tatyana, found out that the middle Sonechka was in love with Tolstoy, who had already promised her hand to a certain student Mitrofan Polivanov.
In August 1862, Tolstoy himself, who visited the Berses at their dacha, first drew attention to Sonya. Immediately, an entry appeared in the diary: “… spent the night at the Berses. Child! It seems! And the confusion is great … I am afraid of myself that if this is the desire for love, and not love. I try to look only at its weaknesses and yet it is. Child! It seems”.
That summer, Sonia, in love, wrote a novel that accurately described her personal experiences. The heroine named Elena chooses between two men: Prince Dublitsky, a middle-aged man with “unattractive appearance” and “changeable outlook on life”, and Smirnov, a young man “with high ideals”. The poor girl suffers so much that she almost decides to go to a monastery, but in the end she arranges the marriage of her elder sister with Dublitsky, and she herself marries Smirnov.
August 26, 1862 Sonya asks Tolstoy to read her novel. It is clear that Tolstoy’s “unattractive appearance” and “changeable views” were hurt, but he did not show it. “I gave her a story to read,” he wrote in his diary. “What an energy of truth and simplicity. I read everything without fading, without a sign of jealousy or envy, but “unusually unattractive appearance” and “changeable judgments” touched nicely. I’ve calmed down. All this is not about me.”
In response, Tolstoy writes a letter to Sonya, where he explains that he does not love Lisa at all and did not want to propose to her. In the letter, instead of words, there were only capital letters. Then, in Anna Karenina, Tolstoy uses the same technique in the scene of Levin and Kitty’s explanation. In the novel, Kitty understands the meaning of Levin’s message. In life, Sonya did not understand the letter and asked for transcripts. This is attested in Tolstoy’s diary. Of course, according to the recollections of Sonya and Tatyana, Sonya herself parsed the text.
The inevitable mechanism of passion had already been launched by this moment. Tolstoy constantly visits the Berses and falls in love more and more every day. “I am in love, as I did not believe that it was possible to love,” Tolstoy writes in his diary. “I’m crazy, I’ll shoot myself if this continues. They had an evening. She is adorable in every way. And I’m a disgusting Dublitsky. I should have taken care first. Now I can’t stop. Dublitsky, let it be, but I am beautiful with love.
On September 14, Tolstoy writes a letter to Sonya with a declaration of love and a marriage proposal, but he decides to give it only on September 16. Sonya ran out of the room with a letter in her hands, followed by Liza. In the bedroom, Lisa screamed, “What did he write?” “He proposed to me,” Sonya replied calmly. “Give it up now!” Lisa sobbed. At that moment, her mother entered the room and told Liza to calm down, and Sonya to go to Lev Nikolaevich and immediately answer. Sonya returned to Tolstoy and said: “Of course, yes.”
From that moment on, Tolstoy begins something like hysteria. It was supposed to take about a month to prepare for the wedding, but he requires an immediate wedding. His main fear was the fear of losing his passionate erotic attraction to Sonya. In the end, the wedding took place on September 23, just a week after the explanation and a month after Tolstoy first wrote in his diary about his interest in Sonya. Immediately after the wedding in the Kremlin Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, the young people left for Yasnaya Polyana.
Scenes and debriefing at the Tolstoys began immediately after the honeymoon and lasted with varying degrees of success throughout the 48 years of marriage. These passions gave the world Natasha Rostov, Anna Karenina, and the Kreutzer Sonata. Were the spouses happy? Hardly. At least Tolstoy did everything to make it not so. If one of the modern psychotherapists intervened in their married life, most likely, he would not be able to help two passionate natures who believed that the main thing in life was sacrifice.
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