Kalpana Sahni’s selection of reminiscences on Tolstoy translated for the first time into English, brings to life the 19th century literary scene in Russia. This book is an attempt to show the many-sided personality of Tolstoy through the memoirs of his relatives, friends, acquaintances and contemporaries. Tolstoy’s 150th birth anniversary coincided with the publication of hitherto unpublished material on him, in the USSR. The most invaluable documents were the memoirs of his wife, which according to her will could not be published until fifty years after her death. The finally appeared in print recently. Tolstoy’s complex personality. He was an aristocrat by birth but took up the cause of the downtrodden. He always wore the traditional peasant blouse, wearing a sheepskin coat only to go outdoors. He dressed this way so that the common people would treat him as an equal. He preached self-perfection and non-violence, but his experience proved otherwise and his later writings contradict these earlier ideas. Although we might disagree with his moral views he was a writer steeped in reality and therefore is relevant even to-day for his criticism of social injustice.
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