Song Without Words: the Life If Sophia Tolstoy

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Sophia Tolstoy was the second of three children, all girls, born to Andrey Evstafievich Behrs and his wife Liubov Alexandrovna Behrs. Her father was a physician and a student of his, Kukula, taught her to use his camera the summer she turned sixteen. Eventually, Kukula gave the camera to her as a present and she spent the summer recording images of her family and friends. Unfortunately, none of those first photos have survived, and it was more than twenty years before she picked it up again. When she was eighteen Sophia was introduced to Leo Tolstoy, who began to visit the family often. Although it was thought that he favored her elder sister, Lisa, Leo proposed to Sophia on September 17, 1862. The couple was married a mere week later, in Moscow, and immediately retreated to the Tolstoy family estate, Yasnaya Polyana. Sophia had been keeping a diary from the time she was eleven but had it destroyed just before the wedding. On the other hand, in an act similar to a character created in his work Anna Karenina, Leo asked his new bride to read his personal diaries. He had hoped to begin their life with no secrets. The times demanded that a woman be subservient to the men of their lives. Leo Tolstoy saw no exception to this way of thinking and though her diary entries reveal that Sophia was a strong-willed woman, she also believed in the importance of duty. And it was her duty to hand copy Lev’s works for him, and to manage the finances, the children and the estate. Though she longed for many things for herself, she often felt selfish after recording such thoughts. “I try to convince myself that true happiness comes from fulfilling ones duty, and I force myself to copy out all his works and do my other duties, but sometimes I weaken, and I yearn for some personal happiness, a private life and work of my own, rather than constantly toiling away for

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