Getting history wrong

This uncompromising novel denies its readers many of the pleasures of fiction. More concerned with the ambiguity of ideas than with clarity of plot or character, it is a heartfelt celebration of the life of the mind – though its defiance is qualified by the wryness we would expect from Julian Barnes. Neil, the narrator, … Read more

A Genius on the Wrong Side of History: Tolstoy’s Conflicts and Contradictions

IT IS DAUNTING to write a biography of Tolstoy. Hundreds or even thousands of books have already put each detail of his life and work under a microscope, and the archives contain no more hidden treasures. Yet, new interpretations of Tolstoy’s life continue to pour in, with more expected in the run-up to the writer’s … Read more