Leo Tolstoy Famous Quotes

Leo Tolstoy, a literary giant, has etched his name in the annals of history with his profound contributions to literature and moral philosophy. Born into Russian nobility on September 9, 1828, Tolstoy’s expansive body of work reflects a tireless pursuit of truth and an unflinching examination of the human soul. His masterpieces, “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina,” are celebrated for their epic scope and deep psychological insight, offering a window into 19th-century Russian society and the universal complexities of human life.

Tolstoy’s most significant contribution, however, extends beyond his narrative genius. His later life was marked by a moral and spiritual quest, leading to the development of a radical anarcho-pacifist Christian philosophy that advocated for non-violence, simplicity, and personal transformation.

His poignant quote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself,” is a clarion call for introspection and personal responsibility. This statement is vital as it challenges the common tendency to externalize the source of the world’s problems without recognizing the need for individual self-improvement. In contemporary society, where blame is often shifted onto others and systemic issues, Tolstoy’s words resonate with the undeniable truth that change begins within.

The enduring relevance of this quote lies in its capacity to provoke deep reflection on our role in societal progress. It serves as a reminder that the collective is but an aggregation of individuals; therefore, personal change is foundational to any meaningful societal transformation. Tolstoy’s wisdom encourages a more mindful approach to life, where each person is an active participant in crafting a better world through the crucible of self-change. His legacy endures, inspiring those who seek to make a difference by first looking within.


Leo Tolstoy Says: “A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “A man’s every action is inevitably conditioned by what surrounds him and by his own body.”

Leo Tolstoy Says:  “A monkey was carrying two handfuls of peas. One little pea dropped out. He tried to pick it up, and split twenty. He tried to pick up the twenty, and split them all. Then he lost his temper, scattered the peas in all directions and ran away”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Am I mad, to see what others do not see, or are they mad who are responsible for all that I am seeing?”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person’s main task in life—becoming a better person.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “And not only the pride of intellect, but the stupidity of intellect. And, above all, the dishonesty, yes, the dishonesty of intellect. Yes, indeed, the dishonesty and trickery of intellect.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Art is not, as the metaphysicians say, the manifestation of some mysterious idea of beauty or God; it is not, as the aesthetical physiologists say, a game in which man lets off his excess of stored-up energy; it is not the expression of man’s emotions by external signs; it is not the production of pleasing objects; and, above all, it is not pleasure; but it is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Art is the uniting of the subjective with the objective, of nature with reason, of the unconscious with the conscious, and therefore art is the highest means of knowledge.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Because of the self-confidence with which he had spoken, no one could tell whether what he said was very clever or very stupid.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “By words one transmits thoughts to another, by means of art, one transmits feelings.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Each person’s task in life is to become an increasingly better person”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Every lie is a poison; there are no harmless lies. Only the truth is safe. Only the truth gives me consolation – it is the one unbreakable diamond.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Flesh eating is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is contrary to moral feeling: By killing, man suppresses in himself, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity, that of sympathy and pity towards living creatures like himself and by violating his own feelings becomes cruel.” “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking…”

Leo Tolstoy Says:  “Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “I have found that a story leaves a deeper impression when it is impossible to tell which side the author is on”

Leo Tolstoy Says:  “I think that in order to know love one must make a mistake and then correct it.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects, a reward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.”

Leo Tolstoy Says:  “If people tell you that you should live your life preparing for the future, do not believe them. Real Life is found only in the present.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “If you see that some aspect of your society is bad, and you want to improve it, there is only one way to do so: you have to improve people. And in order to improve people, you begin with only ONE thing: you can become better yourself.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “In a writer there must always be two people – the writer and the critic.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. A handsome woman talks nonsense, you listen and hear not nonsense but cleverness. She says and does horrid things, and you see only charm. And if a handsome woman does not say stupid or horrid things, you at once persuade yourself that she is wonderfully clever and moral.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “it’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “It’s too easy to criticize a man when he’s out of favour, and to make him shoulder the blame for everybody else’s mistakes.”

Leo Tolstoy Says: “Just as one candle lights another and can light thousands of other candles, so one heart illuminates another heart and can illuminate thousands of other hearts.”