Over a hundred years ago, something truly outrageous occurred at Yasnaya Polyana. Count Leo Tolstoy, a famous author aged eighty-two at the time, took off, destination unknown. Since then, the circumstances surrounding the writer’s whereabouts during his final days and his eventual death have given rise to many myths and legends. In this book, popular Russian writer and reporter Pavel Basinsky delves into the archives and presents his interpretation of the situation prior to Leo Tolstoy’s mysterious disappearance. Basinsky follows Leo Tolstoy throughout his life, right up to his final moments. Reconstructing the story from historical documents, he creates a visionary account of the events that led to the Tolstoys’ family drama.
Flight from Paradise will be of particular interest to international researchers studying Leo Tolstoy’s life and works, and is highly recommended to a broader audience worldwide.
Translated by Huw Davies and Scott Moss.
Published with the support of the Institute for Literary Translation, Russia
"There are many theories why the great Russian writer left his home at the age of 82 just before his death. Pavel Basinsky’s award-winning book about Tolstoy, now published in English, tries to see the truth behind the myths." Phoebe Taplin, Russia Beyond the Headlines
"In his book "The Flight from Paradise," Pavel Basinsky took a different approach, showing Tolstoy’s departure through the perspective of his entire life, which makes this book so special. On its cover we see the back of an old man moving away along an endless widening alley. Basinsky showed how this plan had been nurtured for decades, and yet might not have been implemented." Tatiana Shabaeva, Russia Beyond the Headlines
"A new and powerful book by Pavel Basinsky describes the writer’s last days in moving and graphic terms." Russia Beyond the Headlines
The book delves into the lingering mystery of Tolstoy’s decision to abandon comfortable living in his Yasnaya Polyana family estate and his subsequent death at a tiny railway station. Much as Pavel Basinsky bases his narrative on documentary proof, Leo Tolstoy: Flight from Paradise is still an essentially intimate statement. The Voice of Russia (radio)
Pavel Basinsky is a well-known Russian writer and literary critic. He is a member of the Union of Russian Writers and the Academy of Russian contemporary literature. He is also an active member of the permanent jury for the Solzhenitsyn award.
Basinsky was born in 1961 in Frolovo, in the Volgograd region. In 1986 he graduated from the Literary Institute (Department of literary criticism), then applied for a PhD there and wrote a thesis on Gorky and Nietzsche. Since 1981, Pavel Basinsky has had works of literary criticism published in various magazines. He currently teaches at the Literary Institute, works as an editor at Rossiyskaya Gazeta and is a member of the jury for the Yasnaya Polyana literary award.
For his book Leo Tolstoy: Flight From Paradise, Pavel Basinsky was awarded the Big Book National Literary Prize.