Review by Choice Review
The year 2010 was the centenary of Tolstoy's death. He died at the age of 82 at a small railroad station in provincial Russia. Famous as the author of Anna Karenina and War and Peace, Tolstoy had long since turned from fiction to moral philosophy, advocating a worldwide socioreligious movement aimed at a radical simplification of life. Rich, with a large number of dependents, Tolstoy was increasingly torn between his family and his moral beliefs. Tolstoy's conflict with his wife over his plan to leave his wealth to his acolytes led the writer to flee his estate. Falling ill, he hovered between life and death at the home of the Astapovo station master. His flight set off the first full-scale media event in Russia. Nickell (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) provides a detailed account of Tolstoy's last days and of how the news was received by people in all tiers and factions of Russian society. Those interested in a more accessible, broader view of Tolstoy's final year may prefer Jay Parini's The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year (2008), which is semi-fictional and semi-documentary. Nickell's book is elegant, stylish, generously illustrated, and best suited to more advanced readers. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. B. Johnson emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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