Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/142

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When in Moscow, Tolstoy frequently visited the Nikolsky Market and the Ilinsky Gate, where, during the 'eighties, the pedlars used to buy their stock of popular literature. Tolstoy had long since wished to bring new blood into this literature, which at that period was a strange mixture of booklets on saints' lives, patriotic military tales, and strange romantic adventures, mostly written by illiterate people in a coarse style, often without beginning or end, and, generally, indigestible as intellectual food. Strange to say, Russian literature of that period was illustrious with great names, but not a single one—poets, novelists, or scientists—was ever brought before the mass of the people. This injustice Tolstoy was disposed, if not to remedy entirely, at least to reduce as much as possible.

As a beginning, he wrote a series of highly artistic tales to be published in the form of popular literature, but in good style, with attractive