From Rosamund Bartlett's Q & A at the Guardian about her latest book, Tolstoy: A Russian Life:
How did you come to write Tolstoy?Visit Rosamund Bartlett's website and learn more about Tolstoy: A Russian Life.
When my agent asked what the next book might be after I finished a biography of Chekhov, the word "Tolstoy" somehow came out of my mouth, making a completely mad idea a reality. On a simple level I wanted to understand why Chekhov so revered Tolstoy as a human being, and I also felt that with the approaching centenary of Tolstoy's death, this was the right time to try and reanimate that part of his life which had been petrified by the Soviet literary establishment. Glasnost heralded the return of Tolstoy the religious thinker, as well as the publication of many fascinating materials which shed new light on the pivotal role he played in Russian society on the eve of the 1917 revolution.
What was most difficult about it?
Making sense of such a gargantuan life. Tolstoy not only bequeathed to the world some of the greatest novels ever written, but also a huge and much less well-known spiritual and philosophical legacy to which he attached far greater importance than all his fictional work. The standard edition of Tolstoy's writings runs to 90 volumes, while the new post-Soviet edition will add a further 10 if it is ever completed (not a foregone conclusion in today's Russia). I wanted there to be a narrative thread to my biography, and in the end I took a leaf out of Tolstoy's book and had each chapter tell the story of...[read on]
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