“Without my Yasnaya Polyana I can hardly imagine Russia and my attitude toward it. Without Yasnaya Polyana I might see laws necessary for my motherland better but I will not love it passionately” — L.N.Tolstoy.
Yasnaya Polyana today is a large museum, research, tourist and publishing center whose purpose is to save Tolstoy’s estate for future generations.
History ReferenceThe village of Yasnaya Polyana was started not far from Raspberry Gate of Raspberry Abatis. In 1627 noble Grigoriy Kartsev and his son Stepan were given land in the Solovskoy (later Krapivenskiy) district for their loyal service to the tsar. The Kartsevs protected this part of abatis forests. Yasnaya Polyana was paid due attention because it was the way to Tula and further to Moscow.
The Tolstoy’s believed that the name of Yasnaya Polyana (Clear Glade) originated from a wide sunny valley that can be seen when turning to the estate from the highway or probably from the name of the Yasenka river that flows nearby.
In 1763 Lev Tolstoy’s grand-grandfather Prince S.F.Volkonskiy bought Yasnaya Polyana for his wife and since then it devolved to descendants. Back then, stone buildings were erected in place of wooden ones.
Since 1856, Yasnaya Polyana has been associated with the name of L.N.Tolstoy. Its landscapes, best traditions of estate domestic life, family legends was an inexhaustible source of inspiration and ideas for Tolstoy. And it was also present in his works such as Novel of Russian Landlord, War and Peace, Anna Karenina and others.
After L.N.Tolstoy’s death, Yasnaya Polyana remains the property of the Tolstoys.
S.A.Tolstaya did her best to keep the house, park and steadings in the original condition. She became the first curator of the memorial complex of the estate.
The events of 1917 changed the future of Tolstoy’s estate. On June 10, 1921 Yasnaya Polyana was declared a state reserve by a VTsIK decree. The writer’s daughter A.L.Tolstaya became head of the museum.
By Tolstoy’s centenary repairs were carried out in the museum and the original condition of the writer’s memorial house was restored.
On October 29, 1941 the Nazi stepped on the Yasnaya Polyana soil. The occupation of Yasnaya Polyana lasted 45 days. The house of the great writer was turned into a barrack, and the Nazi buried 70 of their soldiers next to his grave. The garden and the park were heavily damaged. On their last day in Yasnaya Polyana the Nazi made fires inside the writer’s house, and it was only through heroic efforts of the museum staff that the fire was overcome.
Yasnaya Polyana was liberated on December 15, 1941. Right after the liberation repairs began. They were over by the end of May 1942. On May 24 the museum was opened for visitors again. And in May 1945 its exposition was back from Tomsk where museum valuables had been evacuated.
In 1986 the museum was given the status of a State memorial and natural reserve. And in 1993 that of a cultural object of especial importance. It is remarkable that in 1994 Vladimir Tolstoy, Lev Tolstoy’s descendant was appointed museum director.
L.N. TolstoyLev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born on August 28, 1828 in Yasnaya Polyana and lived there most of his life. Lev Tolstoy created a biography which was no less interesting than his works. He did not just believe in immortality, he lived on it. The ‘art of living’ is probably the most tricky art. Its essence is not working 16 hours a day without leaving the desk, not living exactly by schedule or keep away from real feelings, allowing oneself to meet the darling one for only 30 minutes a year. The ‘art of living’ means something different: the ability to enjoy everything.
Estate DescriptionThe manorial estate of the end of the 18th century till the beginning of the 20th century keeps scores of memorabilia and rich resources of invaluable relics associated with the life of great Russian writer L.N.Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana.
The estate looks kept till the present. It includes the house where L.N.Tolstoy and his family lived with all the original furniture and library, guest house where movable expositions are shown and exhibitions are held and the servants house which is an office building now; court buildings; parks with a cascade of ponds made around the beginning of the 19th century; fruit gardens; woods, planted mostly by L.N.Tolstoy between 1870 and 1910. This is where L.N.Tolstoy was buried in November 1910 500 yards from his house at the Stary Zakaz wood. …
White towers welcome guests to the estate. There is, as L.N.Tolstoy remembers, “…play of light and shade from big heavily clad birches on tall dark-green grass, and forget-me-not, and thick nettle…” There is no thick nettle there nowadays, of course — everything is taken great care of, the museum staff are very meticulous. The Big Pond is to the left from the entrance to the estate. It is one of the oldest hydrotechnical installations of Yasnaya Polyana. While walking up the shady alley, it is possible to turn right: there are greenhouses there, and the Middle Pond is next to them with a swimming bath.
If we go on walking on the same alley we get directly to the writer’s house. Its outside, layout, furniture and everything else is kept the way it was in last year of the writer’s life. Tolstoy’s vast (22,000 books) library, his study with the old table of Persian nut-tree covered with green broadcloth — the witness and involuntary participant in many immortal works of the world literature: War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Resurrection, Power of Darkness, Haji Murat; the hall where they dined, rested, argued, played music; the ‘vaulted room’ with its small round table, a lamp, a sofa, some arm-chairs, an old three-mirror dresser, his personal things, portraits of the writer and his family — everything is spiritualized with L.N.Tolstoy’s image. Each artifact there can tell a story about his great industry, his dislike for idleness as a way of existence. And the exposition of the literature museum is exhibited at the guest house.
However, Yasnaya Polyana is not only plenty of invaluable artifacts and exhibits but also a vast park area which has many locations associated with the great writer. For instance, one of the remote alleys of the estate has the favorite bench of Lev Nikolayevich which boasts a great view. Another natural sight of Yasnaya Polyana is Love Tree. As a legend has it, if you walk three times around it and make a wish, it will come true without fail.
L.N.Tolstoy’s grave is worth special attention too. This place is the most popular among visitors to the museum. Lev Nikolayevich in his Memoirs wrote that his elder brother Nikolenka announced that “he had a secret that will make all people happy and they will love each other when it is revealed. This secret is written on a green stick and the stick is buried at the road on the brink of a ravine in the Yasnaya Polyana park”. It is believed that this is why Tolstoy asked to be buried in the Stary Zakaz wood, on the brink of a ravine where the “Green Stick is supposed to be — in memory of his dear elder brother and believing that there is a green stick out there with the words that would destroy all the bad in people and make them happy”. According to Stefan Zveig, it is the most beautiful, the most impressive, the most moving grave in the world.
Tolstoy’s Memorial Museum HouseThe interior of the house, the name, the purpose of the rooms corresponds to the last year of Tolstoy’s life — 1910. The library that had been collected by three generations, ancient furniture, portraits of ancestors, family icons, plenty of other artifacts of different nature, 33 thousand total still live in the house.
HallThis room was used both as a drawing-room and a dining-room for the Tolstoys family and was referred to as the ‘hall’. The entire family would gather at the big table for lunch. This is where they read aloud, played chess and classical music (Shopen, Gaydn, Weber, Mozart, Chaykovskiy) and old Russian romances and songs; set up a Christmas Tree and made a masquerade. This is also where guests were entertained. Writers I.S.Toorgenev, A.P.Chehov, A.A.Fet, V.G.Korolenko, composers S.I.Taneyev, A.B.Goldenweiser, artists I.N.Kramskoy, I.E.Repin and others.
Sitting-RoomThis room is associated with the name of the writer’s wife Sofya Andreyevna. This is where she had guests and copied out her husband’s works.
Tolstoy’s StudyThere are four rooms at the house that were used as studies by the writer at different times. One of them was a study for about 15 years altogether — from 1856 through 1862 and then from 1902 through 1910. When moving the study from one room to another, Tolstoy always had his sofa and writing table taken there too. About 200 works were created on them, including War and Peace and Anna Karenina.
Tolstoy’s BedroomThis is the only room in the house that never changed its purpose and was always Tolstoy’s bedroom. The ancient furniture — wardrobe, wash-stand — belonged to the writer’s father. The old things’ value for Tolstoy was in the nice “sincere family memories” that they called up. The portraits of the people he loved are also there: father, wife, daughters. And his clothes are there too. He dressed like a peasant. And personal artifacts: barbells for exercising, a whip for riding, a stick chair.
S.A.Tolstaya’s RoomThis is where S.Tolstaya lived till her death. “My mother lived 9 years longer than my father”, wrote daughter Tatyana Lvovna Tolstaya in her memoirs. “She died surrounded by children and grandchildren… She realized she was dying. She was humbly waiting for death and accepted it as a lamb”. Sofya Andreyevna was buried at the family graveyard of counts Tolstoys near the Nikolo-Kochakovskaya Church, 2 km to the south from Yasnaya Polyana.
Secretarial RoomThe writer’s secretaries lived and worked in that room since 1907. Their duties included handling Tolstoy’s drafts and manuscripts, sorting letters and wires and responding some of them. Tolstoy was receiving up to 35 letters a day then and a lot of newspapers and magazines. The secretaries used a typewriter called Remington and therefore the room was sometimes referred to as the Remington Room.
LibraryIf it was too hot in the study in summer, Tolstoy would move to work there. Most of his library is kept there. Tolstoy’s personal library has about 23,000 items.
They include Russian and foreign editions from the 17th century till 1910 — newspapers, magazines, books, maps, art albums, music notes. Some of them were inherited by Tolstoy from his parents, others bought by himself, some were given to him as a gift. There are plenty books on history, philosophy, religion, esthetics, folklore here… Some of the books were signed by Tolstoy’s outstanding contemporaries.
Vaulted RoomThis room once used to be a pantry but with Tolstoy there was no pantry there and there was a stove. It was always quiet under the vaults. That is probably why Tolstoy worked there for 20 years. In early 1860s the first chapters of War and Peace were written there.
Guest RoomIt is a big room with a “stone balcony hanging over the garden”; Tolstoy’s study between 1871 and 1887. This is where Anna Karenina was written as well as Azbuka and other works. The writer’s youngest daughter Alexandra writes in her book Father: “The study was divided into two parts with bookshelves, a door in the middle of the partition, a crossbar above the door. Tolstoy put his writing table in his study, leather furniture, the leather sofa where his children were born, and there was his beloved brother’s bust in a niche, a recess. In this room the coffin with Tolstoy’s body was set up on November 9 (21) for farewell.
Non-Memorial Museum FundBesides memorial artifacts, there is a non-memorial fund in Yasnaya Polyana. It includes graphic art collections, photos, different items, books.
They are all about Tolstoy and his people, Yasnaya Polyana landscapes as well as other locations associated with Tolstoy, illustrations for his books, his editions, etc. Works made in Tolstoy’s lifetime are especially valuable.
Additional InformationAlso, in Yasnaya Polyana those who are interested can go on an interactive tour in a coachman’s hut, drink tea from a samovar and have pies. It is a wooden hut with a straw roof on the territory of the estate with the interior of a typical old Russian hut — a stove, wooden tables and benches, a distaff, place of honor and hostess in a traditional costume who will tell about customs of a Russian estate.
Also it is possible to ride horses, Another exciting activity is a ride to the Kozlova Zaseka station where there is an exposition called Railroad in Tolstoy’s Life in the building of the Kozlova Zaseka station complex which was restored to the original
This is more a question than anything else... How many rooms are included in the Tolstoy House?