Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tolstoy: A Russian Life

Rosamund Bartlett weighs in on Tolstoy in a new biography that has garnered mixed reviews.  Rather than offering fresh insights,  Christopher Tayler writes that she plays this one by the numbers.  Of course, it is hard to top the previous biographies by Troyat and Wilson.


  1. Pasternak offers a number of allusions to Tolstoy, Chekhov and Onegin in his reflective chapter on Varykino where the good doctor indulges in a journal while riding out the winter. Seems he didn't think much of Tolstoyism and the devotees the movement inspired. Chekhov also seemed to keep his distance from the Tolstoyans, taking his jabs at the movement in his short novels. I don't know if Parini gets anymore into it than we saw in the movie, The Last Station, but it would be interesting to explore this cult that emerged in the late 19th century and came to influence many persons far and wide, including Gandhi.

  2. I totally agree with you. I loved wilson's bio. i've just starteed the bartlett one and i am so far not as engaged.

  3. Thanks for the comment, dj. Feel free to post more. Tolstoy is such a larger than life figure that he would be very hard to pin down.