This is part two of the BBC documentary about the greatest writer that ever lived. (Part 1 is here.)
Alan Yentob continues his train ride through Tolstoy’s Russia, examining how Russia’s great novelist became her great troublemaker.
The success of War and Peace brought Tolstoy fame, wealth and a massive mid-life crisis. Alan follows the writer through the tortured second half of his life as he transformed himself from aristocrat to anarchist and turned his back on his novels, his possessions and finally his wife of 48 years.
Alan travels east into the remote emptiness of the Russian steppe, through the dark, pages of Tolstoy’s great romantic novel, Anna Karenina, on to the small town where Anna takes her life, and then on the pilgrimage to the spectacular monastery where Tolstoy’s spiritual quest began.
Using extraordinary early film of Tolstoy, we witness the tumultuous events of Tolstoy’s final years and his passionate relationship with his disciple Chertkov, the man his wife called “the devil incarnate”.
Finally, Alan retraces Tolstoy’s flight from home at the age of 82, a journey that ended in a remote railway station. Heartbreaking archive footage shows his wife Sofya being turned away from the deathbed of her husband. So great was Tolstoy’s influence at the time of his death that the government feared the news would spark revolution.
Contributors include leading Russian commentators, as well as AN Wilson and the author of a new Tolstoy biography, Rosamund Bartlett.