Tolstoy's False Disciple: The Untold Story of Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Chertkov

Tolstoy's False Disciple: The Untold Story of Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Chertkov

by Alexandra Popoff


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"Popoff constructs a narrative of a toxic, controlling friendship, in which Chertkov manipulated Tolstoy for his own gain."—The New Yorker

On the snowy morning of February 8, 1897, the Saint Petersburg secret police were following Tolstoy's every move, and he was always in the company of a man named Chertkov. Tolstoy was recognizable enough, with his peasant garb and beard, but who was the man who towered over Tolstoy, twenty years younger, with a cold, impenetrable look on his face?

This man, Chertkov, was a relative to the Tsars and nephew to the chief of the secret police and represented the very things Tolstoy had renounced. He would become the writer's closest confidant, reading even his diary, and at the end of Tolstoy's life, Chertkov had him in his complete control, preventing him from even seeing his own wife on his deathbed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781605986401
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 11/15/2014
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Alexandra Popoff is the author of the award-winning biography Sophia Tolstoy: A Biography and The Wives: The Women Behind Russia's Literary Giants, a Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year. She lives in Canada.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

A Note on Russian Names xi

Prologue xv

Chapter 1 Born to Privilege 1

Chapter 2 Unlikely Friends 22

Chapter 3 A Laborer for God 43

Chapter 4 Happy and Unhappy Families 66

Chapter 5 Evil Genius 87

Chapter 6 Tolstoy Under Surveillance 114

Chapter 7 The Tsar of the Tolstoyans 131

Chapter 8 "A Graven Image" 156

Chapter 9 Beyond the Grave 178

Chapter 10 The Greatest Literary Scandal 202

Chapter 11 Chertkov vs. Tolstoy's Youngest Daughter 234

Chapter 12 Working for the Soviets 245

Abbreviations 271

A Note About My Sources 273

Endnotes 275

Index 299

About the Author 309

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