After Confession Tolstoy wrote three more books on religion which he thereafter considered to be his greatest work. These were: A Study of Dogmatic Theory, A Harmony and Translation of the Four Gospels, and What I Believe.

The remainder of Tolstoy’s life was devoted to the propagation of his religious views through publicistic essays, works of fiction (which were in form and content significantly different from his earlier literary output), in personal contacts with visitors and through correspondence. Among the many views put forward in the works of this period was that that money should be abolished in favour of the direct exchange of services and the dis-establishment of private property rights. He also wrote many brief essays on topics such as the nature of religion, vegetarianism, famine relief, the evils of alcohol and tobacco, patriotism, military conscription, war, terrorism and capital punishment.

In the middle of the 1880’s Tolstoy once again resumed his literary mantle, writing a series of pieces designed specifically with a popular or peasant audience in mind; these were called his Stories for the People and were published in 1884 using a non-profit making publishing house which Tolstoy set up with his friend and disciple, V. G. Chertkov, specially for that purpose. Around this time Tolstoy also wrote his only major piece of theatre, a play called The Power of Darkness, the two novels Resurrection and Hadji-Murad, and the short novels The Death of Ivan Ilyich, The Kreutzer Sonata, and Master and Man as well as more than a dozen short stories.

In 1901 Tolstoy fell seriously ill, and despite recovering was dogged by increasingly ill-health for the remainder of his life. During this time he devoted himself to the compilation of anthologies of spiritual wisdom, collections of quotations of words and writings of noted sages of the past arranged for reading by the day, week or month. At this time he was described as "the sage of Yasnaya Polyana" and "the conscience of humanity", and despite having been excommunicated by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1901, Tolstoyan communities sprang up all over Europe and in the United States. However, at home he was the centre of an unpleasant struggle between his disciples and his family; a struggle that finally lead to him abruptly leaving Yasnaya Polyana accompanied by his youngest daughter and his personal doctor. During his journey by train he fell ill and died in the stationmaster’s house at the tiny town of Astapovo, which is now named Lev Tolstoy. His body was returned to Yasnaya Polyana and buried their at the edge of a ravine where, as a young boy, he and his brothers used to play a game, the object of which was to find a mythical "green stick" on which was supposed to be inscribed the secret of human well-being and happiness.

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