Page:Rolland Life of Tolstoy.djvu/43

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CHAPTER IV

EARLY WORK: TALES OF THE CAUCASUS

The Story of my Childhood[1] was commenced in the autumn of 1851, at Tiflis it was finished at Piatigorsk in the Caucasus, on the 2nd of July, 1852. It is curious to note that while in the midst of that nature by which he was so intoxicated, while leading a life absolutely novel, in the midst of the stirring risks of warfare, occupied in the discovery of a world of unfamiliar characters and passions, Tolstoy should have returned, in this his first work, to the memories of his past life. But Childhood was written during a period of illness, when his military activity was suddenly arrested. During the long leisure of a convalescence, while alone and suffering, his state of mind inclined to the sentimental;[2] the past unrolled itself before his eyes at a time when he felt for it a certain tenderness. After the exhausting tension of the last few unprofitable years, it was comforting to live again in thought the

  1. Published in English as part of Childhood, Boyhood, Youth.
  2. His letters of this period to his Aunt Tatiana are full of tears and of sentimentality. He was, as he says, Liova-riova, “Leo the Sniveller” (January 6, 1852).