Sunday, 26 August 2012
The trouble with Leo Tolstoy, part 1: At war with himself
Alan Yentob takes an epic train ride through Tolstoys Russia examining how Russias great novelist became her great troublemaker. In this programme he reveals a difficult and troubled youth obsessed with sex and gambling who turned writer while serving as a soldier in Chechnya and the Crimea. His experiences on the frontline eventually fed into War and Peace a book now recognised as the gold standard by which all other novels are judged. They also triggered his conversion to outspoken pacifist.Alans expedition takes him to the Tatar city of Kazan where Tolstoy was a teenager the siege of Sevastopol on the Black Sea and Imperial St Petersburg as well as the idyllic Tolstoy country estate the writers cradle and grave and home throughout his passionate but brutal 48-year marriage to Sofya - a marriage that began with rape produced 13 children and ended with desertion and denial.Contributors include Tolstoys great great grandson Vladimir Tolstoy AN Wilson and author of a new Tolstoy biography Rosamund Bartlett. Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (known in the West as Leo Tolstoy September 9, 1828 -- November 20, 1910) was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist fiction. Many consider Tolstoy to have been one of the world's greatest novelists.Tolstoy is equally known for his complicated and paradoxical persona and for his extreme moralistic and ascetic views, which he adopted after a moral crisis and spiritual awakening in the 1870s, after which he also became noted as a moral thinker and social reformer. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him in later life to become a fervent Christian anarchist and anarcho-pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.