3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Larger than life,
This review is from: Tolstoy: A Russian Life (Hardcover)
Rosamund Bartlett has made a remarkable job in this biography, depicting Tolstoy in all his contradictions and excesses: as a genie and a holy fool, as a selfless person devoted to help the peasants and those in need and as an egotistical self-centred man who sometimes would make miserable the lives of those closer to him. In its scope, ambition and profusion of detail this is a remarkable book.
And yet, I am afraid it is not a completely gratifying read, because the author assumes that the readers have a very clear memory of the works of Tolstoy, that they clearly remember the plots and characters of his novels and novellas and that they will immediately make the relevant associations between the real life event X and the scene Y in War and Peace or Kreutzer Sonata. Further exploring the work of Tolstoy and refreshing the readers' minds on its beauty would have added to the tribute she is paying to one of the greatest author of all times.
The sources consulted to this biography are certainly very comprehensive. But I would have found the book even more interesting to read had the author decided to give voice to Tolstoy and his family and friends, quoting more abundantly their letters and documents, instead of reporting on the content of those letters. From my point of view this would have contributed to make the impressions more vivid and to a greatest intimacy between the reader and the subject of the biography.