Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy bigraphy, stories - Russian-Soviet writer

Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy : biography

10 January 1883 - 23 February 1945

Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy ( 29 December 1882 ({{OldStyleDateDY) 10 January 1883 – 23 February 1945), nicknamed the Comrade Count, was a Russian and Soviet writer who wrote in many genres but specialized in science fiction and historical novels.

During World War II, he served on an Extraordinary State Commission which "ascertained without reasonable doubt" the mass extermination of people in gas vans by the German occupiers. His work in the investigation of atrocities committed in the Stavropol region was recognized by Soviet prosecutors during the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals.

Biography

Parentage

Aleksey was the son of Count Nikolay Alexandrovich Tolstoy (1849-1900) and Alexandra Leontievna Turgeneva (1854-1906). His mother was a grand-niece of Decembrist Nikolay Turgenev and a relative of a renowned Russian writer Ivan Turgenev. His father belonged to Tolstoy family of Russian nobles and was a remote relative of Leo Tolstoy.

According to author and historian, Nikolai Tolstoy (a distant relative), "The circumstances of Alexei Tolstoy's birth parallel in striking resemblance those of another relative, Alexei Constantinovich, the great lyric poet, after whom he was named. His father had been a rake--hell cavalry officer, whose rowdy excesses proved too much even for his fellow hussars. He was obliged to leave his regiment and the two capital cities, and retired to an estate in Samara, Russia. There he met and married Alexandra Leontievna Turgenev, a lively girl of good family, but slender means. She bore him two sons, Alexander and Mstislav, and a daughter Elizabeth. But the wild blood of the Tolstoys did not allow him to settle down to an existing domestic harmony. Within a year the retired hussar had been exiled to Kostroma for insulting the Governor of Samara. When strings were eventually pulled to arrange his return, he celebrated it by provoking a fellow-noble to a duel. This was more than his high-spirited wife could stand. She found life intolerable with the turbulent Count and inevitably fell in love with a staid, kindly young gentleman of suitably liberal and anti-aristocratic proclivities, named Alexei Appollonovich Bostrom. In May 1882, already two months pregnant with her fourth child, Alexandra fled into the arms of her lover. The scandal that followed was appalling. The Count loosed off his revolver at Bostrom and was exculpated by the courts, whilst the ecclesiastical court in granting a divorce ruled that the guilty wife should never be allowed to remarry. In order to keep the expected baby, Alexandra was compelled to assert that it was Bostrom's child. Ostracized by society and even for some years by her own parents, she left with her lover for Nikolaevsk, where he held a modest post in local government."Nikolai Tostoy, The Tolstoys, pages 283-284.

Early life

Due in part to their rejection by both the Russian nobility and the Church, Aleksei Bostrom and Alexandra Tolstoy raised Aleksei in a staunchly atheistic and anti-monarchist environment. Aleksei would insist in later years that they were also great admirers of the writings of Karl Marx and Georgi Plekhanov.

Although he was officially registered as the son of Count Tolstoy, until the age of thirteen, Aleksey had lived under the name of Bostrom and never suspected that Aleksey Bostrom was not his biological father. Even after learning the truth, he still considered Aleksey Bostrom his true father and refused ever to see Count Nikolai Tolstoy or his older siblings.

Education

According to Nikolai Tolstoy, "As with so many Russian children at that time, little Alexei picked up his earliest education at home. There were lessons with his not over-strict tutor, his mother taught him to read and write, and his step-father read aloud to them in the evenings from the writings of Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Turgenev (to both of whom Alexei was related through his parents). His attention was perfunctory, and in his earliest years it was his imagination and dreams which absorbed his energy. His mother was an amateur writer and poetess of modest abilities but infectious enthusiasm. When he was ten, she urged Alexei to write stories. He did so, and both were delighted to find how easily prose flowed from his pen, despite his inattentiveness at formal instruction. His mother's encouragement bore swift fruit, and with every year his talent became more apparent.""The Tolstoys," pages 285-286.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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