Saturday, August 24, 2013

A.K. Tolstoy was censored in Russia

It is the birthday of Russian writer A.K. Tolstoy (1817), older second cousin of novelist Leo Tolstoy, and best known for his dramatic trilogy, The Death of Ivan the Terrible (1866), Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich (1868), and Tsar Boris (1870). All three were banned in Russia when they were first published. Tolstoy poked fun at Russian leadership with the poetic parody History of the Russian State from Gostomysi to Timashev (1886), which was also banned. His gothic novella, The Vampire (1841), wasn't even published under his name. It passed the censors but critics didn't think much of it. His historical novel, Prince Serebrenni (1874), is also known as The Silver Knight. It is set in 16th century Russia. It passed both the censors and the critics. Tolstoy was the first Russian writer to portray Ivan the Terrible as a complex, intelligent, remorseful, humorous, and yet, sadistic man.

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