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Tolstoy’s 186th Birthday Honored With Interactive Google Doodle

On what would be Russian writer Leo Tolstoy’s 186th birthday, Google pays homage with a doodle that is displayed in most parts of the world.

The interactive doodle includes an eight-scene slideshow with images of Tolstoy himself, as well as scenes from his works War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich by guest doodler Roman Muradov.


On the Google Doodles website, Muradov says he settled on two images from Tolstoy’s three major works that are displayed in a stage-like format. In addition, he notes the second scene of War and Peace originally showed character Andrei Bolkonsky in his carriage, but, after some feedback, the team opted to instead show another character, Pierre Bezukhov, and a comet.

“I sketched the chosen scenes digitally, then after a few revisions and adjustments went over them with brush and ink on layers and layers of paper,” Muradov says. “I then created a color scheme and assembled all these bits into digital layers that we arranged to move at varying speeds across the stage.”

The doodle is shareable via Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and email.


Muradov, who says he also recently illustrated the Centennial Edition of James Joyce’s Dubliners for Penguin Classics, notes both Joyce and Tolstoy “are careful and selective with words, allowing the reader’s imagination to collaborate with the text instead of passively taking it in.”

Similarly, Muradov says the language of cartooning is “less descriptive than realistic artwork or film, and is less likely to replace the reader’s vision.”

He also notes, “It seemed fitting to focus on Tolstoy’s central theme of dualism and to highlight his stylistic nuances through the rhythm of the sequences – the almost full moon against the almost starless night, the red of Anna’s handbag, Ivan’s fatal curtains that stand between him and the light of his spiritual awakening.”

Muradov says he hopes the doodle will inspire viewers to read and reread Tolstoy.

“No set of images can sum up a body of work so astonishing in scope, complexity, and vigor – its memorable scenes come to life with seeming effortlessness, fully realized in the immortal lines and between them,” he says. “Tolstoy’s lasting influence is a testament to the power of his art, which will remain relevant as long as the questions of life and death occupy our minds, which is to say – forever.”


For those who do not have time to read or re-read War and Peace on September 9, The Independent has created a 186-word version, which also honors Tolstoy’s birthday.

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