Love and Hatred: The Troubled Marriage of Leo and Sonya Tolstoy

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9780671881627: Love and Hatred: The Troubled Marriage of Leo and Sonya Tolstoy

A provocative dual biography of Leo and Sonya Tolstoy offers an illuminating anecdotal study of a long and stormy marriage between two remarkable individuals and the impact of their complex relationship on Leo Tolstoy's literary work. 50,000 first printing.

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From the Back Cover:

A touching, brilliant, and groundbreaking biography of one of literary history's most famous couples, at once a dual biography, a history, and the portrait of a long and stormy marriage, William L. Shirer's new book - written in his ninth decade - explores the passionate, highly charged, and extraordinary lives of Leo and Sonya Tolstoy. It is a compelling illumination both of the nature of genius and of the universal problems of love, sex, and marriage - themes that Tolstoy played out in his great fiction and that haunted him in his tangled domestic life. Rich in anecdotes, wise, full of sweeping history, and imbued with Shirer's profound knowledge of literature and life, Love and Hatred ranks beside such works as Robert Massie's Nicholas and Alexandra and Nigel Nicolson's Portrait of a Marriage as a masterly, intuitive, and sympathetic exploration of the love/hate relationship between two famous, bigger-than-life people. Beginning in 1862, when Tolstoy committed the blunder of asking his young bride to read his diaries of his bachelor life so there should be no secrets between them, and ending with his tragic flight from home (and marriage) in 1910 while the whole world waited for news of him, Love and Hatred tells the story of a great romance between two people who could live neither together nor apart - a romance that exhausted and obsessed them both, and that forms the basis for much of Tolstoy's work. The final book of William L. Shirer's long and brilliant career, it is - appropriately - a masterly re-creation of a time, of two extraordinary people, and of the very nature of love, marriage, and old age.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Given the Tolstoys' voluminous, unsparing, often shared, and ultimately rather deranged diaries, writing about this prizefight of a union is not much harder than simply showing up at ringside. Using the straight-line, calendar-like procedure of his famous Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Shirer simply follows the count and countess through the rounds of their agonies. Shirer (who died last December) revisits Sonya's devotion as secretary (the woman copied her husband's manuscripts out by hand many times over during their composition--a Herculean task); Leo's personal renunciation of one of the most fabulous gifts of talent in world art in favor of his own brand of obnoxious humility as a Christ figure; the ensuing acolytes; the jealous and largely ignored children; the comings and goings of fellow Russian writers and disciple-ish suck-ups; Sonya's pathetic attempt to snare the attentions of the epicene composer Tanayev and thus win for herself a little well-deserved appreciation. All that's here is complete enough--less schlockily pitched than in Anne Edwards's Sonya (1981) but finally no deeper. A great man's marriage is of legitimate interest, but we need to have some sense of the greatness first. Shirer's stabs at lit crit are negligible (``Again, in the telling of that rough journey to purgatory,'' he writes apropos of Resurrection, ``Tolstoy is wonderful in his descriptions. And he introduces some memorable characters...''), and even his historical references to the foment of Russian society churning around the Tolstoys, to which they certainly contributed, are bare, slack, and unshaped. A.N. Wilson's Tolstoy isn't challenged here by Shirer; it remains the best portrait of the man and the work and the marriage, the troika without any one part of which nothing seems to really move forward. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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