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Additional info for Count Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy
He begins by defending Tolstoy from the conservative critics who merely wish to include him in their number; in fact, says Mikhaylovsky, Tolstoy is the enemy of the reactionary camp as can be clearly seen in ‘Anna Karenina’ which is an attack on high society. (84) The most detailed and analytical contemporary treatment of ‘Anna Karenina’ was written by Gromeka in 1883–4 (see No. 69), although, like many critics, he had some harsh things to say about the meaning to be attached to the epigraph ‘Vengeance is mine; I shall repay’.
Nekrasov, who had been the first person to appreciate Tolstoy’s artistic qualities in the early 1850s, thought its ‘message’ was simply that married women should not take lovers (see No. 60), and Suvorin agreed: it had no social significance and was basically concerned with a description of Anna’s love affair. (74) Even Turgenev, although relations between him and Tolstoy were at one of their frequent low ebbs, was luke-warm. Tolstoy, he thought, had taken the wrong road; the book was burdened by the influence of Moscow, the Slavophiles, aristocrats and old spinsters, and lacked real artistic freedom.
He asked. Where is Tolstoy’s famous psychological analysis? What sort of people are Katyusha and Nekhlyudov supposed to be? They are characteristic of nothing; they are typical of no one; they are but puppets made to act out Tolstoy’s retribution upon Russian society. And what is the practical use of the idealistic ending? Protopopov’s dislike of ‘Resurecction’ is aptly summed up in the title of his review: Not of this World. (94) But Bogdanovich still saw all the old Tolstoy with his wonderful grasp of life, his simplicity and sincerity, in taking the readers so effortlessly and to so much point from the salons of the capital to the wastes of Siberia, from the prisons and law courts to the Russian countryside; there was no trace of any artificiality or ‘fic-tionalizing’; everything was just as it is in life itself; it was as if life opened up before the reader in all its infinite variety; and the hero and heroine were as realistic as any of Tolstoy’s creations—there were hundreds of Katyushas and Nekhlyudovs in Russia.