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Towards the end of the 'sixties, when Tolstoy had finished his "War and Peace," he was brooding over new projects of popular instruction, interrupted, as we saw, in 1862. As usual, he threw his whole energy into the work, and published his well-known reading-book for beginners. Again he created a model school, collected teachers around him, took an active part in the proceedings of the Moscow Committee for the Promotion of Primary Instruction, and published an article "On Popular Instruction" in a St. Petersburg radical monthly review, Annals of the Fatherland—an article which aroused quite a storm in the educational and literary world.

Surveying with a sharp and pitiless eye the existing system of popular instruction, with new arguments he vindicated free schools, as he had done before in his review, Yasnaya Polyana. Tolstoy's views were heatedly discussed in the periodicals of that time and in educational circles.