‘Mad Monk’ Revisited

Grigoriy Rasputin was found murdered on this day in 1916. Joseph T. Fuhrmann’s 2012 biography, Rasputin, is subtitled The Untold Story, based on his use of documents released after the collapse of the Soviet Union to help solve the enduring questions about the “Mad Monk”: “Was he a man of God or just a crafty manipulator? Could he heal through prayer? What was the secret of his appeal to women? How much influence did he have over Tsar Nicholas and his wife?” Fuhrmann’s research shows that Rasputin “stood for peace and religious toleration,” that he “befriended Jews and prostitutes,” and that he too would have opposed the Putin government’s recent anti-gay legislation:

The research that has gone into this book provides a pioneering account of Rasputin’s relations with homosexuals. These men were out of the closet and forging public careers that would have been inconceivable anywhere else in the world at that time. Readers will be surprised to learn how rapidly Russians were coming to accept same-sex relationships at every level of society.

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at todayinliterature.com.