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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The new book from the critically acclaimed author of The Wives and ?Sophia Tolstoy sheds light on one of the strangest and most unusual relationships in literary history—which has been steeped in secrecy for more than a century.

On the snowy morning of February 8, 1897, the Petersburg secret police were following Tolstoy's every move. At sixty-nine, Russia's most celebrated writer was being treated like a major criminal. Prominent Russians were always watched, but Tolstoy earned particular scrutiny. Over a decade earlier, when his advocacy on behalf of oppressed minorities angered the Orthodox Church and the Tsar, he was placed under permanent police surveillance.

Although Tolstoy was wearing his peasant garb, people on the streets had no trouble recognizing him from his portraits. He was often seen in the company of his chief disciple, Vladimir Chertkov. A man of striking appearance, twenty-five years younger, Chertkov commanded attention. His photographs with Tolstoy show him towering over the writer, but who exactly was this imposing man?

Close to the Tsars and to the chief of the secret police, Chertkov represented the very things Tolstoy had renounced ––class privilege, unlimited power, and wealth. Yet, Chertkov fascinated and attracted Tolstoy. He became the writer's closest confidant, even reading his daily diary, and by the end of Tolstoy's life, Chertkov had established complete control over the writer and his legacy.

Tolstoy’s full exchange with Chertkov comprises more than 2,000 letters, making him the writer’s largest correspondent. The Russian archives have suppressed much of this communication as well as Chertkov’s papers for more than a century. The product of ground-breaking archival research, Tolstoy's False Disciple promises to be a revelatory portrait of the two men and their three-decade-long clandestine relationship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781605987279
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
File size: 3 MB

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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