Author Topic: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II  (Read 15812 times)

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Jmentanko

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Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II
« on: October 07, 2004, 05:27:04 PM »
Okay, I remember hearing/reading that dear Leo sent a letter to Nicky. I'm curious as to what this letter was all about. Can anyone actually post or detail what Tolstoy wrote?
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 11:53:04 PM by Alixz »

Elisabeth

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2004, 08:28:41 AM »
According to Henri Troyat's biography of Lev Tolstoy, he wrote two letters to Nicholas II in 1897 protesting the persecution of the Molokhans, religious sectarians whose children had been forcibly taken away by the state because they were not being brought up in the Orthodox Church.  The first version of the first letter read as follows:

"Majesty, for the love of God make an effort and, instead of avoiding the matter and referring it to commissions and committees, decide, without asking anyone's advice, you yourself, acting on your own initiative, that these religious persecutions, which are bringing shame upon Russia, must cease; the exiles must be sent back to their homes, the prisoners released, the children returned to their parents, and above all, the whole body of administrative laws and regulations abolished, as they are so complicated and obscure that they are just so many pretexts for illegality."

Tolstoy submitted this letter to the Molokhans for their approval; they took fright at its tone; so he revised it at their request.  This version (which unfortunately Troyat does not include) was the one given to Nicholas personally by a member of his military staff, Alexander Olsufeyev (who must have been a very brave man).  Neither Tolstoy nor the Molokhans received a reply from the emperor.

On September 27, 1897, according to Troyat, Tolstoy wrote a second letter to Nicholas II.  Again he received no response.  He then told his daughter Tatiana to seek an audience with the Procurator of the Holy Synod, Pobedonostsev.  She was permitted to see him on January 27, 1898.  After she had described the Molokhans' despair at losing their children, Pobedonostsev said, "Yes, yes.  The bishop of Samara has gone too far.  I shall write to the government right away."  Apparently it was Pobedonostsev's intercession with the tsar that finally carried the day, and the Molokhan children were at long last reunited with their parents.    
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Elisabeth »

Offline rachel5a

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2004, 11:07:38 AM »
In Radzinsky book I've read there was other letter. Tolstoy wrote it after meeting with GD Nicola Michailovich in october 1901 - it was revolutionary letter speaks about close revolution and bad situation in Russia, he published this letter abroad... :)

Jmentanko

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2004, 11:26:26 AM »
Which Radzinsky book are you refering to? I actually have his book on Nicky, but I haven't read it. I did check for any references to a letter but I couldn't find any.  :-/

Offline rachel5a

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2004, 11:35:32 AM »
Radzinsky book "Rasputin"

Jmentanko

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2004, 11:38:24 AM »
Oh darn, I thought that you might be refering to that one. I don't understand why he didn't just include it in his book on Nicky, that would make more sense. :(

Offline rachel5a

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2004, 11:55:13 AM »
 ;) just read "Rasputin" :)

Elisabeth

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2004, 11:08:07 AM »
Hi, JM,

It turns out that dear old Leo wrote a lot of letters to Nicholas II, and to Alexander III, too.  You can kind of understand why they considered him such a pain in the neck. The reference books you need are the two volumes of Tolstoy's letters (called, you guessed it, "Tolstoy's Letters") edited by R.F. Christian, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.

PAVLOV

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2010, 08:58:23 AM »
Old topic again. One would have thought that the Tsar would have had the decency to respond in some way to Leo Tolstoy of all people. Just another example of the huge gap not only between Nicholas and the intelligensia, but all the people of Russia, and the real world in general.
His wife Sofja was a woman with real determination and was an admirable woman for her times. She managed to arrange an audience with Alexander III when the censors had an issue with the publication of a collection of short stories, and he was very nice to her. As a result she almost got her way,
Again very bad PR for NII !

Constantinople

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2010, 09:20:21 AM »
Well the Russian aristocracy didn't see Tolstoy the way we see him now.  He was seen as a renegade aristocrat who had great sympathy for the peasants. 

PAVLOV

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2010, 06:26:56 AM »
Point taken, but many of his ideas seen from todays perspective were completely impractical, and quite frankly, a bit silly. His attitude towards sex for instance, was hypocritical. in fact his wife thought him to be a hypocrite about many things.
I found her diaries more interesting than his actually. Far more down to earth.   

Constantinople

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2010, 01:45:19 AM »
Many attitudes to do with sex are both egocentric and hypocritical.

Elisabeth

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2010, 12:13:08 AM »
Well the Russian aristocracy didn't see Tolstoy the way we see him now.  He was seen as a renegade aristocrat who had great sympathy for the peasants.  

I think another very major problem the tsars (both AIII and NII) had with Tolstoy was his attitude towards the Russian Orthodox Church. After his religious "conversion" of 1878 Tolstoy was no longer by any definition an Orthodox Christian, but someone who spent the rest of his life actively subverting institutionalized religion and rewriting the New Testament (some would say, in his own image). Moreover, it wasn't merely his aristocratic background that protected him from governmental reprisal. It was his international fame. He was the most famous living writer in the last decades of the nineteenth century and in the first decade of the twentieth. His followers had founded communities all around the world and his fellow writers in other countries regarded him not only as a great artist but also as a "voice of conscience." The tsars couldn't touch him without creating a hell of a lot of bad publicity for themselves. Nevertheless, the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated him in 1901.

Tolstoy's ideas about sex were indeed crazy but have to be understood within the context of his biography and psychology. In that context, they become, if not less crazy, somewhat more comprehensible. Moreover it should be kept in mind that like a lot of religious prophets throughout the ages, Tolstoy found it harder to practice what he preached than he had originally anticipated. This is an all too human failing and one which some of us find more forgivable than others do.

Offline LisaDavidson

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2010, 10:23:23 AM »
Another point about Nicholas II not answering Tolstoy: he did not employ a secretary and had an empire to rule. It was a big job, so I don't take him to task for not answering a subject who was not respectful as he expected and who had rejected Orthodox Christianity.

Elisabeth

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Re: Tolstoy's letter to Nicholas II
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2011, 06:47:07 AM »
Another point about Nicholas II not answering Tolstoy: he did not employ a secretary and had an empire to rule. It was a big job, so I don't take him to task for not answering a subject who was not respectful as he expected and who had rejected Orthodox Christianity.

The points you make are surely valid, Lisa, but nevertheless, Nicholas II not responding to the world famous author and social and religious reformer Leo Tolstoy would be the equivalent of the British government refusing to respond to a letter from Mahatma Gandhi just before Indian independence was declared. Tolstoy was an even bigger "celebrity" than Nicholas at the turn of the century. More importantly, he was a writer of genius and regarded by the educated classes everywhere as tsarist Russia's voice of conscience.

On the other hand, maybe NII's computer just crashed and burned, and/or his wireless failed, as mine did, so like me, he was pretty much out of commission for weeks. (Even now, I'm using a relative's computer/broadband.) Please don't PM me that they didn't have computers in 1900. I know this very well; I'm making a joke, a poor one, but a joke nonetheless.