The artistic work of Leo Tolstoy has been described as 'nothing less than one tremendous diary kept for over fifty years'. This particular 'diary' begins with Tolstoy's first published work, Childhood, which was written when he was only twenty-three. A semi-autobiographical work, it recounts two days in the childhood of ten-year-old Nikolai Irtenev, recreating vivid impressions of people, place and events with the exuberant perspective of a child enriched by the ironic retrospective understanding of an adult. Boyhood and Youth soon followed, and Tolstoy was launched on the literary career that would bring him immortality.
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