Russian President Vladimir Putin has a secret fascination with Leo Tolstoy. As a young KGB agent, he purportedly made a pilgrimage to the Leo Tolstoy Museum and Estate at Yasnaya Polyana. But for a guy who says Tolstoy is his favorite writer, Putin is, well, a very bad reader.
Four years ago, I explained in my blog how enduring misconceptions about Sophia Tolstoy's character and marriage prompted me to write her biography. Back then I could not tell the whole story about the Tolstoys' family drama.
Readers of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy will better understand Putins's behavior and his response to Western disapproval if they remember those 19th century authors' deep skepticism of the Enlightenment's emphasis on logic and reason.
There is something comforting about looking at bookshelves filled with volumes that you have read. And there is no feeling worse than when the shelves are full and you have to throw out or donate some of the books.
Tolstoy's little-known short novel, Master and Man, holds the analogical key to resolving a critical issue of global economic justice. Tolstoy was regarded as a prophet in his own time, so why not in ours, too?
For the opening of her exhibit, Patti Smith: Camera Solo at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT last week, Patti Smith gave a concert celebrating essential connections between art, music, and literature.
When I first saw Bondarchuk's "War and Peace," in 1968, in New York, it was presented in two parts and ran six hours. You went in the afternoon, broke for dinner, then came back for the rest. It was stupendous.