Emily in Moscow

Emily is a senior majoring in Markets and Cultures, with a Russian minor, in Dedman College. During summer 2009, she participated in SMU-in-Moscow, an intensive five-week study of the language and culture of Russia. Emily received support for her travel and studies in Moscow from the Alexander V. Mamantov Memorial Scholarship and Kay Wiley Memorial Fund.

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Understanding Tolstoy

We just got back from Leo Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana estate, about a three-hour drive out of Moscow.

The famous Russian writer was an incredibly influential part of Russian literary history, and to see the sprawling estate where he created most of his work was extremely moving. We went on a private tour of the grounds, including a garden, the main house, a school, and his grave.

The tour guide was acutely knowledgeable, and I learned so much in just a few short hours about the man behind such works as War and Peace. He was a very religious and sensible man. Toward the end of his life, he became more and more disillusioned by the things of this world and found it admirable to live frugally and do one’s best to facilitate the moral integrity of mankind.

He died in the early 19th century, but his philosophy that values peace and piety has had a major impact on the Russian people, like many other Russian writers and poets of his day. As the saying goes, “A Russian poet is more than a poet.”

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