‘Not one word’, exclaimed Turgenev of Tolstoy, ‘not one movement of his is natural! He is eternally posing before us!’
The recurrent underlying theme of A.N. Wilson’s prize-winning biography of Tolstoy, now re-issued after a quarter of a century, is the novelist as grand impersonator. Wilson (a prolific novelist himself) believes that there is a strong impulse in novelists to don masks or test alter egos, and that this impulse rioted in Tolstoy’s character.