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One hundred years after his death, Leo Tolstoy continues to be regarded as one of the world’s most accomplished writers. Historically, little attention has been paid to his wife Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya. Acting in the capacity of literary assistant, translator, transcriber, and editor, she played an important role in the development of her husband’s career. Her memoirs – which she titled My Life – lay dormant for almost a century. Now their first-time-ever appearance in Russia is complemented by an unabridged and...
One hundred years after his death, Leo Tolstoy continues to be regarded as one of the world’s most accomplished writers. Historically, little attention has been paid to his wife Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya. Acting in the capacity of literary assistant, translator, transcriber, and editor, she played an important role in the development of her husband’s career. Her memoirs – which she titled My Life – lay dormant for almost a century. Now their first-time-ever appearance in Russia is complemented by an unabridged and annotated English translation.
Tolstaya’s story takes us from her childhood through the early years of her marriage, the writing of War and Peace and Anna Karenina and into the first year of the twentieth century. She paints an intimate and honest portrait of her husband’s character, providing new details about his life to which she alone was privy. She offers a better understanding of Tolstoy’s character, his qualities and failings as a husband and a father, and forms a picture of the quintessential Tolstoyan character which underlies his fiction.
My Life also reveals that Tolstaya was an accomplished author in her own right—as well as a translator, amateur artist, musician, photographer, and businesswoman—a rarity in the largely male-dominated world of the time. She was actively involved in the relief efforts for the 1891–92 famine and the emigration of the Doukhobors in 1899. She was a prolific correspondent, in touch with many prominent figures in Russian and Western society. Guests in her home ranged from peasants to princes, from anarchists to artists, from composers to philosophers. Her descriptions of these personalities read as a chronicle of the times, affording a unique portrait of late-19th- and early-20th-century Russian society, ranging from peasants to the Tsar himself.
My Life is the most important primary document about Tolstoy to be published in many years and a unique and intimate portrait of one of the greatest literary minds of all time.
"Naturally, it would have been wrong and unworthy on my part not to be satisfied with my happy family life. But I solemnly promised myself that I would write the whole truth in my Autobiography and not hide all the bad things that happened to me."— from Part III
"I don't know that anyone has the right to deny any particular quality in a person and a writer, but this I personally knew for certain, that when my husband was a writer of fiction, I was happy, but when he became a religious thinker, my life and happiness clouded over."— from Part III
"While I was proofreading The Kreutzer Sonata for Volume XIII — a story I had never liked on account of its coarse treatment of women on the part of Lev Nikolaevich, it made me think about writing my own novel on the subject of The Kreutzer Sonata. This thought kept coming to me more and more frequently, to the point where I could no longer restrain myself. I did write this story, but it never saw the light of day and is now lying among my papers at the Historical Museum in Moscow."— from Part V
Map of European Russia & Ukraine (Early 20th Century)
From the Editor
Editor's Introduction A critical look at an insider's perspective (first epigraph: Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya's Preface to My Life) Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya Tolstaya, Sofia Andreevna
PART I 1840s to 1862 1
PART II 1862 to 1875 63
PART III 1876 to 1883 221
PART IV 1884 to 1888 389
PART V 1889 to 1891 559
PART VI 1892 to 1895 711
PART VII 1896 to 1899 867
PART VIII 1900 to 1901 985
Poetry Appendix 1023
Chapter Outline 1060
Index of Titles of L.N. Tolstoy's Works 1076
Footnote Index 1086
Posted November 29, 2010
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