Elena Govor, My Dark Brother, Sydney, 2000
Nikolai, Alexandra and Count Tolstoy
...Tolstoy’s attempt to support Alexandra in autumn 1890 did not occur by chance. The Ilins had become newly converted Tolstoyans after reading, in May 1890, Tolstoy’s short story The Kreutzer Sonata. At that time the story was banned under censorship, and readers circulated it in handwritten copies. Securing a copy for a few days, people would invite their friends over to listen to the story being read out loud. Nikolai writes about their first impressions.
‘I AM SPENDING THE THIRD DAY IN OUR DACHA together with my wife and two ladies, our close acquaintances. We spent all this time reading The Kreutzer Sonata, which recently became famous, and in endless debates and discussions about it. Our everyday life has been turned upside down; we forget to eat and drink, we stay awake at night. A strange thing this is: each of us, individually, knew everything depicted by Tolstoy and yet reading this story, how can I say it — reading it opens up to you new, unknown truth. ... I swear to God that hardly anybody has experienced from the book more than we did after reading this work. Yes, we have to ... scrape off the dirty layers of modern civilisation’s habits and customs; we have to reveal in ourselves a human being, which indeed was created in God’s likeness. How lucky we are that our eyes were opened while our children are young... This rebirth will be a hard struggle for ourselves but we will manage to guide our children along this pure and straight way.’...