The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition «Leopardi – Tolstoy: Breath of Eternity»
October 1 – November 27, 2011, Yasnaya Polyana, Volkonsky House

Leopardi – Tolstoy: Breath of Eternity is the second joint exhibition designed by Yasnaya Polyana and our partners in Recanati (Mache Region, Italy ) as part of Russian-Italy cross-cultural year.

tandleopardi1sThe first of the two exhibitions - Tolstoy – Leopardi: Breath of Eternity – was opened on July 2, 2011 at the Giacomo Leopardi Museum in Recanati. Within one and a half months, about eight thousand tourists from many countries visited the exhibition. Over 140 original objects from the collections of the Yasnaya Polyana museum were on display in Palazzo Leopardi: paintings, drawings, sculptures, books, and Leo Tolstoy’s personal belongings. The conception and design of the exhibition made it possible to speak of Tolstoy and Leopardi in the context of some similarity of their creative aspirations and literary interests, based on comparing their personal libraries.

tandleopardi3sThe same approach is used in the conception and design of the exhibition Leopardi – Tolstoy: Breath of Eternity, which shows about 100 objects from the collection of the Counts Leopardi family in Palazzo Leopardi in Recanati. The exhibition tells the visitors about Giacomo Leopardi and suggests a number of parallels in the life and creative ideas of the Italian poet and Leo Tolstoy. These parallels let us see some interests and preferences they had in common. First of all it is true about the contents of their libraries, which had a great influence on both authors. For example, each of them first discovered works of Rousseau in their home libraries, and that author meant very much for them both. Themes of Leopard’s poetry can also be found in Tolstoy’s literary works, in his diaries, and religious and philosophical writings.


Leo Tolstoy and Giacomo Leopardi were contemporaries for 9 years. The Italian poet belonged to the generation of Tolstoy parents; he died in the same year as Leo Tolstoy’s father. Leopardi is mentioned in Tolstoy’s letters, diaries and works only a few times, but always in a positive way. In What Is Art? Tolstoy mentions Leopardi, along with Byron and Heine, among the “exceptional people” of the early 19 th century – the poets who expressed “the feeling of anguish of life.” Leopardi can also be found in the drafts of the treatise, being mentioned among the authors Tolstoy valued very highly – Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.

The exhibition does not claim there was an “affinity if souls” between Tolstoy and Leopardi; it is interesting due to the diversity of approaches and interpretations.

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