RASPUTIN: Satyr, Saint, or Satan? by Douglas Myles

RASPUTIN: Satyr, Saint, or Satan?

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Described as ""the first full [Rasputin] biography in 40 years,"" this is in fact little more than a reworking of Maria Rasputin's memoirs of her father (Rasputin, 1977). And as he did in Prince Dracula (1988), Myles alternates superficial historical synopses (of the Russo-Japanese War, the Bolshevik Revolution) and novelized passages notable only for their clichÉd emotions and perfervid prose. Myles' depiction of the Russian starets (holy man) is by and large sympathetic, unsurprising considering his major ""research"" source. While acknowledging Rasputin's debaucheries, the author seems convinced of his subject's religious sincerity and selflessness in his relationship with Tsar Nicholas and the royal family. Myles downplays Rasputin's political maneuverings and frequently sees him as a victim of jealous rivals. If there is a villain to be found in these pages, it is Prince Feliks Yussupov, Rasputin's assassin, whose homosexuality and effete life-style elicit Myles' unconcealed disdain. It is, however, when the author attempts to delineate the thoughts and emotions of his dramatis persona that he falters most disastrously: ""He hated him. The whole peasant world has hated his kind for centuries. The vermin in silks and satins who drove the poor into the ground. . . 'Yussupov!' As he clutched the felon dog he heard his own croaking whisper. 'Yussupov!' "" Rasputin: hype, horsefeathers, or hokum?

Pub Date: May 7th, 1990
Publisher: McGraw-Hill