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The Resource Tolstoy : a Russian life, Rosamund Bartlett

Tolstoy : a Russian life, Rosamund Bartlett

Label
Tolstoy : a Russian life
Title
Tolstoy
Title remainder
a Russian life
Statement of responsibility
Rosamund Bartlett
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Bartlett draws extensively on key Russian sources, including much fascinating new material made available since the collapse of the Soviet Union. She sheds light on Tolstoy's remarkable journey from callow youth to writer to prophet; discusses his troubled relationship with his wife, Sonya, a subject long neglected; and vividly evokes the Russian landscapes Tolstoy so loved. Above all, she gives us an eloquent portrait of the brilliant, maddening, and contrary man who has, once again, been discovered by a new generation of readers
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Coming after the centennial of Tolstoy's (1828–1910) death, this biography is worth the extra year's wait. The cliché "larger than life” only begins to describe Tolstoy's complexity: something of a saint, though excommunicated by the Orthodox Church; animal-rights advocate who early on hunted for sport; champion of married chastity, though he fathered a string of children; master of an estate while dressing like a peasant. Bartlett (Chekhov: Secrets from a Life) has no problem compacting all this while also scrupulously examining Tolstoy's understandably rocky relationships with family members. His revolutionary ideas on class and culture caused a serious rift with his wife, Sonya, before a series of partial and tragic reconciliations. Given the volume of Tolstoy's literary production, Bartlett wisely avoids evaluating the work beyond what is necessary to telling the life and situating it in its time. Her deep and easy familiarity with her subject and the period permits Bartlett to touch on both the thinkers and writers who engaged Tolstoy—such as Rousseau, Dickens, and Schopenhauer—while getting to the essence of the spiritual power that informs his work. Bartlett is particularly adept at assessing Tolstoy's impact, from the role his work played in bringing about the fall of the Romanovs, an image the Soviets highlighted, to how Tolstoy remains subversive in Russia today. 16 pages of photos, map. (Nov.) --Staff (Reviewed July 25, 2011) (Publishers Weekly, vol 258, issue 30, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ Lev Tolstoy did nothing halfway. He was respected as much for his impressive aristocratic pedigree as his outspoken political views, brave and courageous military career, prodigious literary output, and, nearer the end of his life, religious austerity. As a national icon, he was celebrated; as a political dissenter, untouchable. He was the biggest celebrity in Russia. Tolstoy the family man was dictatorial, his larger-than-life personality intimidating. His wife, Sonya, ran the household and, it's reported, found time to revise the entire manuscript of War and Peace seven times. Apparently, running Tolstoy's life demanded as much from his family as from the writer himself. Bartlett (Wagner and Russia ), an authority on Russian cultural history, objectively explores all facets of Tolstoy's life, from youth to looming public persona to controlling family man, producing an epic biography, tapping into newly available sources, that does justice to an epic figure. VERDICT Many books have been written about Tolstoy, but few give his family life its due. Written for both the curious, educated reader and the academic scholar, Bartlett's book is an exemplary literary biography. [See Prepub Alert, 5/16/11.]— Lisa Guidarini, Algonquin P.L., IL --Lisa Guidarini (Reviewed July 1, 2011) (Library Journal, vol 136, issue 12, p81)
  • /* Starred Review */ Cultural historian and translator Bartlett (Chekhov: Scenes from a Life, 2004, etc.) unravels the ornate and complicated tapestry of the life of the great Russian writer. Count Tolstoy (a title he later eschewed) lived more than several lives, and Bartlett explores them all with understanding and a sympathetic but also critical eye. Born into a privileged class, Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828–1910) did not distinguish himself early on and seemed determined to investigate all the sordid alternatives available to a young man of property—alcohol, gambling (he had to sell entire villages to pay his considerable debts), lassitude and lust. At university, he neglected the curriculum and pursued his own interests—he was smitten with Pushkin, Dickens, Trollope, Rousseau and, significantly, Diogenes). For some of his early years, Bartlett can offer only speculations (few records exist), but when he went off to war in the early 1850s, the narrative accelerates. Tolstoy was a fine soldier, though he later renounced violence of all sorts (he became a vegan, quit hunting and took up bicycling). While in the military, he continued writing, and the flow of words surged ever more thickly for the next half-century. Bartlett does not linger overlong on any of his most celebrated works, though she does point out that he used family members in War and Peace and employed an actual case of suicide under a train to inform Anna Karenina. The author is most attentive to the growing celebrity of Tolstoy—and the emergence of groups of devoted followers, especially when he began to embrace his own form of Christianity, dress like a peasant, advocate education for the masses and assail violence, the government and the Orthodox church. Bartlett also highlights the great difficulties faced by his wife and attends fully to his postmortem status. A rich, complex life told in rich, complex prose.(Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2011)
Biography type
individual biography
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10015879
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Bartlett, Rosamund
Dewey number
  • 891.73/3
  • B
Illustrations
  • illustrations
  • maps
  • portraits
  • genealogical tables
Index
index present
LC call number
PG3385
LC item number
.B37 2011
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Tolstoy, Leo
  • Authors, Russian
  • Russian authors
Target audience
adult
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
a Russian life
Label
Tolstoy : a Russian life, Rosamund Bartlett
Instantiates
Publication
Note
Originally published: London : Profile, 2010
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (p. 455-507) and index
Contents
Ancestors : the Tolstoys and the Volkonskys -- Aristocratic childhood -- Orphanhood -- Youth -- Landowner, gambler, officer, writer -- Literary duellist and repentant nobleman -- Husband, beekeeper, and epic poet -- Student, teacher, father -- Novelist -- Pilgrim, nihilist, muzhik -- Sectarian, anarchist, holy fool -- Elder, apostate, and tsar -- Epilogue: Patriarch of the Bolsheviks
Dimensions
24 cm.
Edition
1st U.S. ed.
Extent
xv, 544 p., [16] p. of plates
Isbn
9780151014385
Isbn Type
(hbk.)
Lccn
2010050015
Other physical details
ill., geneal. tables, maps, ports.
System control number
  • (OCoLC)666239940
  • (OCoLC)ocn666239940
Label
Tolstoy : a Russian life, Rosamund Bartlett
Publication
Note
Originally published: London : Profile, 2010
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (p. 455-507) and index
Contents
Ancestors : the Tolstoys and the Volkonskys -- Aristocratic childhood -- Orphanhood -- Youth -- Landowner, gambler, officer, writer -- Literary duellist and repentant nobleman -- Husband, beekeeper, and epic poet -- Student, teacher, father -- Novelist -- Pilgrim, nihilist, muzhik -- Sectarian, anarchist, holy fool -- Elder, apostate, and tsar -- Epilogue: Patriarch of the Bolsheviks
Dimensions
24 cm.
Edition
1st U.S. ed.
Extent
xv, 544 p., [16] p. of plates
Isbn
9780151014385
Isbn Type
(hbk.)
Lccn
2010050015
Other physical details
ill., geneal. tables, maps, ports.
System control number
  • (OCoLC)666239940
  • (OCoLC)ocn666239940

Library Locations

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