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Although I like what I am publishing now better than former writings, nevertheless this also seems uninteresting, as the beginning of a book sometimes is. But that which will follow——!"

From this letter it is clear how, through the modesty of genius, his indomitable creative power asserted itself and his plans developed.

"1815" was the original title of "War and Peace." Studying that epoch, he worked among the historical and military archives, interviewed survivors of that period, visited the battlefield of Borodino, and was so transported with joy by the picture flashing before his imagination that he wrote to his wife:

"If God grants health and peace, I shall give such a picture of the battle of Borodino as has never yet been done."

The work absorbed him entirely, and when he was especially satisfied with his writing he used to say to his family:

"To-day I left a bit of my life in my ink-pot."

This great work occupied six whole years—from 1863 to 1869. The critics did not at once appreciate its value. They were staggered. Liberal critics, not understanding its meaning and artistic beauties, accused Tolstoy of reactionary views—of preaching the philosophy of stagnation, etc. On