TOLSTOY, MY FATHER by Ilya Tolstoy


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This memoir was written when Ilya Tolstoy was 70 and has never been published in this country. Per se, it does not have the coruscating sharpness of Bulgakov's Last Year of Leo Tolstoy which also appeared here for the first time earlier this year since son Ilya writes in a heavily sentimental fashion, affectionately apostrophizing (""Dear Auntie, I fondly evoke your memory"") as he remembers the ""succession of delights"" that was his childhood. There are the early years of growing up on Yasnaya Polyana (he was a beamish, sometimes hot-tempered or ""naughty"" boy) under the aristocratic, seignorial tutelage of his indefatigable father until, after fifteen years of comfort and serenity, the world there fell apart. Ilya gives his view, corroborated by his sister, of the famous estrangement with Turgenev; he also goes over the sturm of the moral crisis when Tolstoy withdrew to lead his life of rigorous ascetic Christian anarchism, the rift with 'maman,' the last year of emotional and physical illness, the final severance of the will. If it is to be read, it will be for the particularizing detail (Anna Karenina -- Tolstoy ""would have destroyed this novel"") or domestic addendum although of course it has residual value as part of the great body of works on the great man.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1971
Publisher: Regnery