What Men Live By | Tolstoy

What Men Live By

There are books that have influenced their readers for hundreds of years and have guided human behavior for generations. Undoubtedly, one of the most well-known of them is “What Men Live By” It is the book of the famous writer Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.

Lev Nikolayevich (1828-1910) Tolstoy is a writer who has built great works for Russian Literature with his books such as War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Resurrection.

The sincerity, simplicity, and striking storytelling of the love of humanity, belief and inner world he deals with prompted the readers to think inwardly.

When I started reading the book, there was only a shadow of having read it as a child years ago, what this mature man would see between the lines.

First story: Semyon, the shoemaker who was broken by poverty and not doing well.

It starts with helping the naked young man, who has obviously had a problem, on his way back home without being able to ask for money from the people he owes him, to dress him and give him food.

A great story, a great test of humanity, people keep asking themselves what would you do if it were you.
While the finale ends with a surprise, three words of God remain in our minds:
What is in a human?
What has not been given to man?
What does man live with?

The second story, He Who Doesn’t Extinguish the Spark Can’t Contain the Fire

It tells the series of events that started with the lack of tolerance of two families who were neighbors in village life and reached a frightening pace day by day.
Again, the lessons to be learned are clear and very convincing.
The experience of age is something to be listened to, for thousands of years the elders of every society represented wisdom. Maybe this is not the case for the first time in the age of instagram and botox, the intergenerational information perspective has opened up a lot as scissors.

The name of the third story is Candle

This story is about how a landlord’s overseer had his landlords tormented.
Despite the past centuries, it is possible to adapt this story to the present day with minor changes, there is still long working hours, fear of mobbing, insufficient wages and unemployment. The power of the story’s karma to reflect on the person who does whatever is done is told in an impressive sequence of events.

The fourth story, Does Man Need a Lot of Land?

A story that is mentioned and referred to a lot in literature is human nature’s greed and inexhaustible passion for possession. Everything starts with a claim, Poham, a simple villager, defies the devil, Our only problem is little land! If I had as much land as I wanted, I would not be afraid of anyone, not even the devil!”

Fifth story Elijah

It tells the story of a well-established family that made its fortune by working hard with his wife, and treated the guests well, that I personally lived most of my life from this point of view.



The Autobiographical Trilogy 

  1. Childhood (Детство [Detstvo], 1852)
  2. Boyhood (Отрочество [Otrochestvo], 1854)
  3. Youth (Юность [Yunost’], 1856)

War and Peace 

  1. War and Peace (Война и мир [Voyna i mir], 1869)
  2. The Decembrists (Декабристы, abandoned 1863. planned but abandoned sequel to War and Peace) – 3 chapters


  • Anna Karenina (Анна Каренина [Anna Karenina], 1877)
  • Resurrection (Воскресение [Voskresenie], 1899)


Short stories 

Fables and parables 



  • Prince Fyodor Shchetinin
  • [A novel about the time of Peter I] (published 1936)