Nicholas N. Riasanovsky
Henri Troyat's biography of Catherine the Great is an immensely readable book…. (p. 7)
I happened to be reading one of Balzac's novels when I turned to "Catherine the Great," and the two works went very well together…. [Mr. Troyat's book] profited from an immediate historical resonance, so to speak. In other words, where Balzac undertook to impress upon the reader his world of imagination larger than life, Mr. Troyat had the characters and the action all set for him; and indeed the Empress, her favorites and her court acted in such a striking manner and on so superhuman a scale that mere fiction paled by comparison. Nor is the distinction between history and fiction absolute in this case. In...
(The entire section is 599 words.)