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My Life: The Memoirs of Sofia Andreevna Tolstaya Hardcover – 12 Jul 2010

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.".. it expands our awareness of the complex internal life of the great writer. Sofia's text will provide further stimulus for Tolstoy scholarship. Its rich real-life details provide material both for historians and literary scholars.

The book is well translated and splendidly edited. It contains a poetry appendix, 39 Russian poems cited by the author (some are her own), 110 illustrations, 4 pages of genealogical tables, a bibliography, chapter outline, index of Tolstoy's works cited, and a footnote index."-Myroslav Shkandrij, Department of German and Slavic Studies, University of ManitobaUniversity of Toronto Quarterly Volume 82, Number 3, Summer 2013--Myroslav Shkandrij"Reviews" (01/01/2013)

..". it expands our awareness of the complex internal life of the great writer. Sofia's text will provide further stimulus for Tolstoy scholarship. Its rich real-life details provide material both for historians and literary scholars.

The book is well translated and splendidly edited. It contains a poetry appendix, 39 Russian poems cited by the author (some are her own), 110 illustrations, 4 pages of genealogical tables, a bibliography, chapter outline, index of Tolstoy's works cited, and a footnote index."-Myroslav Shkandrij, Department of German and Slavic Studies, University of ManitobaUniversity of Toronto Quarterly Volume 82, Number 3, Summer 2013--Myroslav Shkandrij"Reviews" (01/01/2013)

“... it expands our awareness of the complex internal life of the great writer. Sofia’s text will provide further stimulus for Tolstoy scholarship. Its rich real-life details provide material both for historians and literary scholars.

The book is well translated and splendidly edited. It contains a poetry appendix, 39 Russian poems cited by the author (some are her own), 110 illustrations, 4 pages of genealogical tables, a bibliography, chapter outline, index of Tolstoy’s works cited, and a footnote index.”-Myroslav Shkandrij, Department of German and Slavic Studies, University of ManitobaUniversity of Toronto Quarterly Volume 82, Number 3, Summer 2013--Myroslav Shkandrij"Reviews" (01/01/2013)

Sofia Andreevna’s "My Life" is a monumental work in many ways (…) "My Life "exhibits such a wealth of vivid impressions that reading it gives one a sense of what it was like to live in Russia in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The volume is also a monument of exacting and thoughtful research as well as lucid, eminently readable translation. (…) "My Life" is priceless for its many candid eyewitness portraits of personages important to historians and scholars of Russia’s arts (…) (It is v)aluable for its uniquely down- to-earth vignettes of life in their time: fighting a house fire with buckets, worrying about the malign moral influence of neighboring peasant boys on their sons at Yasnaya Polyana, sleeping under the stars at Samara, playing Haydn symphonies in piano four-hands arrangements, and most haunting of all, breastfeeding their moribund infants. (…) "My Life" is also a considerable achievement in that Sofia Andreevna vividly conveys herself as an involved, indeed feisty, woman of her times, yet also one willing to candidly share her sensuality and fantasies of having an affair. The Tolstoy Museum and the translators are to be thanked for this massive and extremely complicated labor of evident love. Andrew Donskov introduces it with a disciplined account of both her life and their painstaking Methods. (…) It is incredible that they managed to translate, edit, and organize this massive text with such consistency in so little time in order to be published simultaneously with the original. Brett Cooke, Texas A&M University, in "The Russian Review, "Volume 71, Issue 4, Version of Record online: 3 SEP 2012, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9434.2012.00674.x

"Neither Dostoevsky nor Tolstoy would be such giants without their wives. Sonya Tolstoy's voice leaps from these 1,018 pages: motherhood, the intimacies and furies of a long marriage, the agony of public life, the cooling of her husband's affections. Her closing words, 'the absence of any biased forethought (means that) everything here is true and sincere, ' remind us of the living force of a diary unfolding over a lifetime, as opposed to an autobiography."
- Times Higher Education


“... it expands our awareness of the complex internal life of the great writer. Sofia’s text will provide further stimulus for Tolstoy scholarship. Its rich real-life details provide material both for historians and literary scholars.

The book is well translated and splendidly edited. It contains a poetry appendix, 39 Russian poems cited by the author (some are her own), 110 illustrations, 4 pages of genealogical tables, a bibliography, chapter outline, index of Tolstoy’s works cited, and a footnote index.”

-Myroslav Shkandrij, Department of German and Slavic Studies, University of ManitobaUniversity of Toronto Quarterly Volume 82, Number 3, Summer 2013--Myroslav Shkandrij"Reviews" (01/01/2013)

Sofia Andreevna’s My Life is a monumental work in many ways (…) My Life exhibits such a wealth of vivid impressions that reading it gives one a sense of what it was like to live in Russia in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The volume is also a monument of exacting and thoughtful research as well as lucid, eminently readable translation. (…) My Life is priceless for its many candid eyewitness portraits of personages important to historians and scholars of Russia’s arts (…) (It is v)aluable for its uniquely down- to-earth vignettes of life in their time: fighting a house fire with buckets, worrying about the malign moral influence of neighboring peasant boys on their sons at Yasnaya Polyana, sleeping under the stars at Samara, playing Haydn symphonies in piano four-hands arrangements, and most haunting of all, breastfeeding their moribund infants. (…) My Life is also a considerable achievement in that Sofia Andreevna vividly conveys herself as an involved, indeed feisty, woman of her times, yet also one willing to candidly share her sensuality and fantasies of having an affair. The Tolstoy Museum and the translators are to be thanked for this massive and extremely complicated labor of evident love. Andrew Donskov introduces it with a disciplined account of both her life and their painstaking Methods. (…) It is incredible that they managed to translate, edit, and organize this massive text with such consistency in so little time in order to be published simultaneously with the original.

Brett Cooke, Texas A&M University, in The Russian Review, Volume 71, Issue 4, Version of Record online: 3 SEP 2012, DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9434.2012.00674.x

About the Author

Andrew Donskov is professor of Slavic Studies at the University of Ottawa. He has authored or edited a number of books, including Leo Tolstoy and the Canadian Doukhobors: An Historic Relationship (Carleton University Centre for Research on Canadian-Russian Relations, 2005). John Woodsworth is a research assistant with the Slavic Research Group at the University of Ottawa. He has been a translator for more than 40 years. Arkadi Klioutchanski is a doctoral student in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures at the University of Toronto.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Initial Reaction to Sofia Tolstaya's My Life 23 April 2011
By Carolyn Carpenter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My copy of My Life by Sofia Tolstaya arrived in today's mail. It is a HUGE book, much to large to hold and read. It is over 1,000 pages in length. The print is very small and will be difficult for older eyes to read.

This is an extremely valuable addition to the library of primary materials available to Tolstoy researchers. It makes available in English for the first time the entire contents of Sofia's autobiography together with annotations geared to the English-speaking reader. There are wonderful illustrations.

The list price is $90, but Amazon is offering it for just over $56.

I would have preferred to have it published in several smaller volumes with larger print. Better yet, it should have been also published as an ebook. Then the size of the volume and the print would not have mattered, and the text would have been searchable. In this day I just cannot understand why it was not published in an ebook edition as well as a print edition.

Anyone who styles himself/herself a Tolstoy scholar needs this book at hand.
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