Henri Troyat

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James Lord

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[In "Tolstoy" it] is not a mere life that Troyat presents; it is a vast spectacle, a pageant, a panorama. It is an immense miracle play of the human situation, a tragedy, a farce, an extravaganza, a comedy of manners, a prodigious pantomime—drama from first to last. (p. 1)

One could write about Tolstoy forever, and it seems at moments that Troyat has done so. But he has done well; too much about Tolstoy is at last barely enough. The biographer's method has been to let all the characters in his work speak for themselves whenever possible, and one feels that he has scoured in his researches the uttermost reaches of possibility. Diaries, letters, newspapers, official archives, stories and novels are all exhaustively quoted, and from this luxuriant humus of source material proliferate the innumerable characters of Tolstoy's life and time,… while beneath, above and beyond all of them stands Russia in the stupendous sweep of its incommensurable vastness. (p. 24)

James Lord, "As Tolstoy Might Have Told It," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1967 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 17, 1967, pp. 1, 24.

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