Mega Russians

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

I’m halfway through The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy. Notice, it’s “Diaries” because Sofia wrote over some fifty years of marriage to that very complex genius, (and from this reader’s perspective) personally-unlikeable, Leo.

Years ago, I read War and Peace. Interestingly, I more clearly recall the movie version because of the actors, Audrey Hepburn and her real-life husband, Mel Ferrer. These days, having gained insight into the Tolstoys’ partnership, I’m tempted to reread the novel.

When the two married, Count Tolstoy was in his thirties and a well recognized author. She was a nineteen-year-old romantic who immediately learned that his interest in her totally was physical. She found Tolstoy a master at isolating his emotional life. She writes about that and adopted the role of his scribe, rewriting daily drafts and providing him with fresh pages to mark-up. Those daily new markups, she rewrote ad infinitum, assisting his creativity and expanding her insight to the inner man.

Sofia became pregnant fifteen times and delivered a dozen babies, nine of which survived. Besides her work to support Leo, she was mother, housekeeper, estate manager, and eventually liaison between the writer and his publishers. Her activities included negotiating with security forces and with Czar Nicholas himself, to offset their concerns that Tolstoy’s writings suggested communistic views. Which increasingly his did.

So, halfway through the dairies, she’s fifty-three years old and he’s seventy. She’s emotional and very bright, diligent and dependable, and now drafts stories from her imagination. The children are grown and problematic; Leo is unpredictable and unlikeable, and from Sofia’s perspective, a failed father.

Reading her diaries is long and tedious; nonetheless, I rated the work with five-stars on Goodreads.

I’m thinking more and more that Sofia’s diary could be an excellent movie. I image it becoming a script but having trouble thinking of actors who could handle the roles. More importantly, I’ve no idea which director has the chops to do justice to both story and relationship.

Dear Friends: A Kindle, in my pocket, makes a long read doable in bits of time. Diana

3 thoughts on “Mega Russians

  1. Tolstoy had published W&P, was famous when they married, and she was very young. After Sophia raised their nine children and understood the problems that faced very young mothers, she wrote that Leo probably became highly focused and productive because his mother was older when she had him. She thinks Tolstoy’s mother’s maturity in guiding his thoughts and activities made him creative and productive. Sophie felt that her youth, in motherhood, prevented her from achieving similarly with their children.

    Liked by 1 person

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