I wrote this post for the Midnight Freemasons blog a few weeks ago, and thought you might enjoy it!
|1826 - 1910|
Without question, Leo Tolstoy was very knowledgeable on the subject of Freemasonry. His descriptions of Masonic rituals in War and Peace were extremely accurate and detailed. In fact, so familiar with the subject of Freemasonry, Tolstoy was able to categorize Freemasons into four groups. Upon reading this description, you'll see that Tolstoy was very accurate in that description, and for the most part, his description of these four types of Masons remains true today:
From War and Peace
"He divided the Brothers he knew into four categories. In the first he put those who did not take an active part in the affairs of the lodges or in human affairs, but were exclusively occupied with the mystical science of the order: with questions of the threefold designation of God, the three primordial elements- sulphur, mercury, and salt- or the meaning of the square and all the various figures of the temple of Solomon. Pierre respected this class of Brothers to which the elder ones chiefly belonged, including, Pierre thought, Joseph Alexeevich himself, but he did not share their interests. His heart was not in the mystical aspect of Freemasonry.
In the second category Pierre reckoned himself and others like him, seeking and vacillating, who had not yet found in Freemasonry a straight and comprehensible path, but hoped to do so.But the question remains. Was Leo Tolstoy a Freemason?
In the third category he included those Brothers (the majority) who saw nothing in Freemasonry but the external forms and ceremonies, and prized the strict performance of these forms without troubling about their purport or significance. Such were Willarski and even the Grand Master of the principal lodge.
Finally, to the fourth category also a great many Brothers belonged, particularly those who had lately joined. These according to Pierre's observations were men who had no belief in anything, nor desire for anything, but joined the Freemasons merely to associate with the wealthy young Brothers who were influential through their connections or rank, and of whom there were very many in the lodge."
He is frequently cited as a Freemason, however, there is no evidence that Leo Tolstoy was a Freemason. However, the fact that so many Freemasons for so long have believed he was, based on his writings, is a true testament to his tremendous skill as a writer.
Todd E. Creason, is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL). You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org