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Proms Literary Festival - Tolstoy

Susan Hitch joins an audience at the Royal College of Music to mark 100 years since the death of Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

Susan Hitch joins an audience at the Royal College of Music to mark one hundred years since the death of
Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina - a writer whose works regularly appear in the top ten of the greatest novels of all time.

Susan's guests on stage are James Meek, former Moscow correspondent and prize-winning author of "The People's Act of Love" set in turn of the century Russia, and Anthony Briggs, translator of a recent edition of War and Peace and a biographer of Tolstoy.

We know Tolstoy is a great writer - but what about the man himself? James Meek and Anthony Briggs debate his personal influence. Why did he become such an international philosphical celebrity - with hordes of reporters despatched to his deathbed, logging Tolstoy's last hours and morsels consumed in minute detail? Do we need to remember him more as a spiritual teacher who counted Ghandhi amongst his followers, rather than a novelist? And do James and Anthony believe his books give signs of an author who embraced the diversity of human experience - or reveal what he believed to be his misanthropy and pessimism?

Part of a series of debates at this year's Proms Literary Festival celebrating the three Russian authors whose anniversaries fall this year: Chekhov, Pasternak and Tolstoy himself.

Producer: Natalie Steed.

20 minutes

Broadcast

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