Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Liberation of Tolstoy
by Ivan Bunin (ed. Thomas Gaiton Marullo and Vladimir T. Khmelkov)
-Got this on the library sale table and read it off and on to fall asleep. It's basically only for the diehard--I didn't enjoy it and kept reading only because it put me to sleep easily with its lack of structure and jumping from one thing to the next. The obsessive endnotes by the editors are longer than the actual book (!) which is an impressionistic "spiritual" biography of Tolstoy by Bunin (the first Russian to win the Nobel for literature). Both the notes and the actual book jump around Tolstoy's life, quoting him all the time about this and that, and generally I thought the whole thing was confusing and Tolstoy comes across like an emotional spaz and half a flake with a crazy family life and a crazy celebrity life. I guess it's great how he stands up to the church and the authorities. He seems like he fought with his own massive ego all his life and did what he could to try to help people and was a genius. He tries to be a good pig farmer at one point, but then starves the pigs basically to death so they wouldn't squeal so much. A lot of the book deals with the end of his life, where he's dying but his wife is driving him so insane that he sneaks out of the house so he can go hide somewhere and die in peace! She fakes a suicide attempt to try to get him to come back! Tolstoy got into Buddhism too, I guess, along with the rest. I didn't know that.