Synopses & Reviews
and#8220;Magisterial sweep and scale.and#8221;and#8212;The Independent
In November 1910, Count Lev Tolstoy died at a remote Russian railway station. At the time of his death, he was the most famous man in Russia, with a growing international following, and more revered than the tsar. Born into an aristocratic family, Tolstoy had spent his life rebelling against not only conventional ideas about literature and art but also traditional education, family life, organized religion, and the state.
In this, the first biography of Tolstoy in more than twenty years, Rosamund Bartlett draws extensively on key Russian sources, including much fascinating material made available since the collapse of the Soviet Union. She sheds light on Tolstoyand#8217;s remarkable journey from callow youth to writer to prophet; discusses his troubled relationship with his wife, Sonya; and vividly evokes the Russian landscapes Tolstoy so loved and the turbulent times in which he lived. Above all, Bartett gives us an eloquent portrait of the brilliant, maddening, and contrary man who has once again been discovered by a new generation of readers.
Longlisted for the UK's BBC Samuel Johnson Prize
"[Bartlett's] deep and easy familiarity with her subject and the period
permits Bartlett to touch on both the thinkers and writers who engaged Tolstoy...while getting to the essence of the spiritual power that informs his work. Bartlett is particularly adept at assessing Tolstoy's impact..."
-Publishers Weekly, starred "A rich, complex life told in rich, complex prose."
-Kirkus, starred "Bartlettand#8217;s book is an exemplary literary biography."
-Library Journal, starred "[Bartlett's]Tolstoy biography should become the first resort for everyone drawn to its titanic subject."
-Booklist, starred "Rosamund Bartlett's new life of Tolstoy is a splendid book -- immensely readable, full of fresh details, and often quite brilliant in its perceptiveness about the greatest of Russian writers, and one of the stars in the western firmament. This biography has the sweep and vividness of literature itself, and I strongly recommend it."
-Jay Parini, author of The Last Station "It is difficult as a reader to take in the sheer scale and extent of Tolstoyand#8217;s interest and achievement. For the biographer to put all this into less than 500 pages is an achievement in itself. But Bartlett never seems hurried and she gives herself time to paint the scene for us, bringing the scent of Russian earth and grass to the nostrils."
-Financial Timesand#160; (UK) "The extraordinary character of the giant is captured better by Bartlett than by any previous biographer, and this is partly because she knows Russia so well... Superbly well written."
Includes bibliographical references (p. -548) and index.
In this landmark biography of Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, A. N. Wilson narrates the complex drama of the writer's life: his childhood of aristocratic privilege but emotional deprivation, his discovery of his literary genius after aimless years of gambling and womanizing, and his increasingly disastrous marriage. Wilson sweeps away the long-held belief that Tolstoy's works were the exact mirror of his life, and instead traces the roots of Tolstoy's art to his relationship with God, with women, and with Russia. He also breaks new ground in recreating the world that shaped the great novelist's life and art--the turmoil of ideas and politics in nineteenth-century Russia and the incredible literary renaissance that made Tolstoy's work possible. "Admirable. . . . Absorbing. . . . Superb."--Anthony Burgess "Stands as a model of the biographer's art: intelligent and opinionated, yet judicious--and, what's more, deliciously readable."--Michiko Kakutani,
"Must surely rank among the most impressively intelligent biographies ever written."--Zena Sutherland,
and#160;The first new biography in twenty years of the literary colossus, spiritual leader, and icon of the nineteenth century "Conveys Tolstoy to me more vividly than any biography I have read."and#8212;A. N. Wilson, Financial Times "Engaging . . . impressive."and#8212;Claire Messud, Telegraph
About the Author
Rosamund Bartlett's previous books include Wagner and Russia and the acclaimed Chekhov: Scenes from a Life. An authority on Russian cultural history, she has also achieved renown as a translator of Chekhov.
Table of Contents
and#160;Tolstoy Family Tree and#160;xii
and#160;Bers Family Tree and#160;xiv
and#160;Note on Conventions and#160;xv
1 and#160;Ancestors: The Tolstoys and the Volkonskys and#160;11
2 and#160;Aristocratic Childhood and#160;31
3 and#160;Orphanhood and#160;55
4 and#160;Youth and#160;68
5 and#160;Landowner, Gambler, Officer, Writer and#160;83
6 and#160;Literary Duellist and Repentant Nobleman and#160;118
7 and#160;Husband, Beekeeper and Epic Poet and#160;149
8 and#160;Student, Teacher, Father and#160;180
9 and#160;Novelist and#160;214
10 and#160;Pilgrim, Nihilist, Muzhik and#160;251
11 and#160;Sectarian, Anarchist, Holy Fool and#160;294
12 and#160;Elder, Apostate and Tsar and#160;345
and#160;Epilogue: Patriarch of the Bolsheviks and#160;416
and#160;Further Reading in English and#160;498
and#160;Select Bibliography and#160;499
and#160;Illustration Credits and#160;508