Leo Tolstoy wrote this short meditation on sadness and the meaning of life when he was middle aged. He had already completed his masterworks, Anna Karenina and War and Peace, reared fourteen children and gained fame and acclaim in Russia as a man of letters. But despite having attained that success, he still found himself unhappy and always returning to the disturbing idea that all achievement is meaningless.
A Confession is his attempt to put these thoughts in words as he teetered on the brink of suicide. It forms the first in a four-volume series that included A Criticism of Dogmatic Theology, The Gospel in Brief, and What I Believe (also known as My Religion or My Faith).