New East Digital Archive

Google celebrates Tolstoy’s birthday with special Doodle

Google celebrates Tolstoy’s birthday with special Doodle

9 September 2014
Text Jamie Rann

Novelist, freethinker and noted beard-wearer Leo Tolstoy would have been 186 years old today. In honour of the occasion Google has launched a special animated Doodle featuring portraits of the author and scenes from his most famous novels.

The interactive illustration, which was drawn by Russian-born San Franciscan Roman Muradov, includes scenes from War and Peace, Anna Karenina and The Death of Ivan Ilich. Muradov described the commission as a “daunting task”, saying: “No set of images can sum up a body of work so astonishing in scope, complexity, and vigour — its memorable scenes come to life with seeming effortlessness.”

Tolstoy was born on 9 September 1828 at Yasnaya Polyana, the estate of his aristocratic land-owning family where the author went on to spend his declining years. After serving in the army during the Crimean War, Tolstoy went on to become not only one of Russia’s most famous authors, but also an influential pacifist and unorthodox Christian thinker.

This is not the first Russia-themed Doodle this year: during the Sochi Olympics, Google’s rainbow-coloured illustration was interpreted by many as an oblique criticism of state-sponsored homophobia in Russia.

Meanwhile, in Russia, the Moscow City Government has declined to adopt the branding concept developed for it by Art.Lebedev Studios, the city’s most prominent design house. The proposed symbol and logotype were based in part on the famous red stars affixed to the towers of the Kremlin during the Soviet Union. The concept met with a mixed response from the public, with some seeing the design as too closely tied to the past. As of yet, debates continue about creating a single unified brand for the Russian capital.