Tolstoy: The Ultimate Reconciliation

Martine Decource, Author, Martine De Courcel, Author Scribner Book Company $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-18569-9
De Courcel regards Tolstoy's ""conversion'' at age 50, when he proclaimed a new, person-centered Christianity, as just one peak in a crisis that extended from adolescence to his stormy departure from his estate at age 82. Even as a youthful soldier, the Russian novelist was ``a profaner of holy hypocrisy,'' rejecting the supernatural nature of Christ. The author, one-time French ambassador to London, believes that Tolstoy attempted to escape his inner sense of dread and guilt through writing; whenever that failed, he turned to actionfamine relief, tireless preaching, defense of minorities. Never able to achieve harmony between his lifestyle and his ideals, Tolstoy came to detest his wife Sonia who he believed should have been a path to God, but whom he saw as an obstacle. Despite a habit of fitting Tolstoy's every step into neat patterns and formulas, this absorbing biography makes sense of his mad swings between pacifism and military fervor, scorn for the Church and ritual obsession, faith and despair. (May)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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