Lev and Sonya: The Story of the Tolstoy Marriage

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9780399132360: Lev and Sonya: The Story of the Tolstoy Marriage

Tolstoy was in his thirties and already somewhat famous when he married a barely 18 year old Sonya Bers. The marriage lasted 48 years and produced 13 children. Sonya was a woman before her time. She took care of everything involving the management of their daily life (household, properties, children, even proofing and recopying his manuscripts and seeing to his every need) so that he could devote all of his attention to his craft. I'm sure she (and her family) was not only an inspiration for characters in his book, but probably had a lot to do with the fact that he wrote such rich female characters. They both wrote extensively in their diaries and they both read what each other wrote. They ached for each other physically.

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Language Notes:

Text: English, Russian (translation)

From Publishers Weekly:

The author's self-imposed limitation of focusing on the Tolstoys' love story, quoting extensively from their diaries, proves to be a limitation of scholarship. This is a claustrophobic book, conveying virtually no sense of place or erafor example, Yasnaya Polyana, the Tolstoy estate where much of their family life was centered, is not described. Although we're told that the count, observing his principle against commercial gain, assigned management of properties, including copyrights to his work written before 1882, to his wife, Smoluchowski does not adequately assess the cumulative toll of these stewardships on Sonya: we're shown the young wife coping admirably, even throughout 13 pregnancies, until an aging Sonya was to pit herself against her husband's vacillating exercise of his philosophical beliefs and the influence of his infamous disciple Vladimir Chertkov and her own daughter, Aleksandra, who together would discredit her as venal and demented and snatch all from her, including her husband of 48 years. Smoluchowski, who is described here as "that most treasurable of biographers, a nonacademic and an amateur in the finest sense," is a writer whose grasp of nuance is insufficient to this project.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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