MARRIED TO TOLSTOY by Lady Cynthia Asquith


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More than twenty biographies of Leo Tolstoy have expressed widely differing views of the author and his wife, Sonya. Cynthia Asquith's contribution to the reading public's understanding of the great man perpetually suffused by ""ethical convulsions"" is, obviously, partial to Countess Sonya Tolstoy. Lady Cynthia attempts to sort out all the conflicting guesses, impressions, and interpretations that others have set forth concerning one of history's longest and strangest marriages. Sonya was forced in the interest of their many children's welfare to shoulder the management of all her husband's financial affairs when he persistently and publicly renounced his property in order to conform to his own latterly-acquired didactic view of Christianity. She ""did not quarrel with Tolstoy's diagnosis of the appalling problem of poverty, but she could not see that he had any practical cure to prescribe that could possibly work in a world not exclusively peopled with other Leo Tolstoys."" Lady Cynthia has an extraordinary capacity to vivify both her subject and Tolstoy himself. Readers who have heretofore been influenced by the Countess' detractors will find that her admirers now have fresh ammunition to sustain her defense. The reader who may once have failed to make his way completely through War and Peace is tempted to return to those pages immediately, for a second attempt, so interesting are the real-life characters on which the fictional were drawn.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 1961
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin