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  • Tolstoy's centenary year

    Wed, 06 Jan 2010 10:02

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    To mark the centenary of Russian author Leo Tolstoy's death, the Guardian has published a series of articles on one of the finest writers to have ever lived (expect this to be a big year for all things Tolstoy-related). Particularly noteworthy is Jay Parini's article There's more to Tolstoy than War and Peace:

    This is the anniversary year for Tolstoy's death -- a century ago he fled his ancestral home, Yasnaya Polyana, and went on the road with a friend (his private doctor) to become a kind of wandering monk. He died only a couple of weeks later, in a remote railway station called Astapovo. He was estranged from his wife of nearly five decades, cut off from all of his children except one daughter, who had become a devoted "Tolstoyan". It was a strange end, and the story itself was (to me) so compelling that I wrote a novel about it, The Last Station, in 1990. It has now been made into a film, with Helen Mirren as the Countess and Christopher Plummer as the great man himself.

    Needless to say, the anniversary is going to draw a lot of readers to Tolstoy. This is certainly a good thing. I would assume that most readers who have read Tolstoy seriously will know the important novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. These are certainly masterpieces that rank among the great works of western European literature. I go back to them myself every few years, just to sink into their worlds, which are endlessly informative, stimulating, and convincing. I love these books.

    But there is a vast shelf of books by Leo Tolstoy, and these contain some very intriguing and much less widely read works (more...)

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