The Legacy of Tolstoy

Alexandra Tolstoy and the Soviet Regime in the 1920s

Robert Croskey

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  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2009
  • Subject Listing: History / European History; Literary Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 112 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Distributed for: Herbert Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies
  • Series: Donald W. Treadgold Studies on Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia
  • Contents

Drawing on extensive research in Russian archives, Robert Croskey examines how Alexandra Tolstoy, the youngest daughter of Russian writer Lev (Leo) Tolstoy, sought to preserve the work of her father after the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917. Best known as the founder and lifelong president of the Tolstoy Foundation in New York, where she worked to assist Russian emigres, Alexandra Tolstoy was determined to maintain her family's estate at Iasnaia Poliana as a museum and living memorial to her father's ideals; in addition, she was involved with the Tolstoy museums in Moscow and in preparing her father's manuscripts for publication. Croskey shows how Tolstoy's daughter drew upon patronage networks to sustain Iasnaia Poliana as ideologically hostile winds blew around her, and how and why a precarious accommodation with the Bolshevik government broke down. The story culminates with her emigration from Soviet Russia in 1929, when she was forty-five.

The Legacy of Tolstoy interweaves Alexandra Tolstoy's life with events in Soviet history and illuminates Lev Tolstoy's legacy during the Soviet period.
1. Before the Revolution
2. Civil War
3. Iasnaia Poliana
4. Commune and Community
5. The Tolstoy Jubilee Celebration
6. The Jubilee Edition of Tolstoy's Works
7. Leaving the Soviet Union
Appendix 1: Size and Funding of Programs at Iasnaia Poliana in the 1920s
Appendix 2: Lenin's Role in the Initiation of the Jubilee Edition of Tolstoy

"Croskey's history, unlike its forerunners and competitors, is diligently annotated. He deftly integrates existing sources with primary documents drawn from at least a half-dozen archives. He debunks others' claims, corrects errors, fills in the back-story, and adds historical context like political directives and newspaper accounts. For all this scholarly apparatus, the book remains remarkably readable."
-Slavic and East European Journal

"This short account highlights so many interesting aspects of Tolstoy's legacy in Soviet Russia and draws on such a large quantity of archival material . . . it presents a detailed picture of Alexandra Tolstoy's activities and at the same time manages to make connections with broader issues, particularly the extent to which individual reform projects were able (or not) to coincide with the interests of the Soviet government in the 1920s."
-Revolutionary Russia

"Croskey's work illuminates one aspect of the legacy of the prerevolutionary intelligentsia in the early Soviet period. It will be of interest to those studying cultural transformations in early Soviet Russia."
-The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

"Croskey does not belabor this history with heavy-handed interpretation, and is circumspect about Alexandra L'vonvna's private life. The result is a fine presentation of the facts, which will be of great interest to anyone working on Tolstoyanism or early Soviet cultural politics, particularly as the latter relate to the legacy of prerevolutionary culture. This concise and rigorous research renders a significant service to the field, and I look forward to continued publications in this series."
-The Russian Review

"Robert Croskey's short but thorough account tells a complicated story of the events surrounding Tolstoy's legacy, in physical and ideological form, from the time of his death until the departure of his daughter Aleksandra L'vovna Tolstaia from the Soviet Union in October 1929. . . . The range and scope of sources that the author uses is impressive."
-The NEP Era: Soviet Russia 1921-1928