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At War with Himself

Alan Yentob journeys through Tolstoy's Russia, examining how the country's great novelist became its great troublemaker, first looking back at his youth.

Alan Yentob takes an epic train ride through Tolstoy's Russia, examining how Russia's great novelist became her great troublemaker.

In this first of two programmes, he reveals a difficult and troubled youth, obsessed with sex and gambling, who turned writer while serving as a soldier in Chechnya and the Crimea. His experiences on the frontline eventually fed into War and Peace, a book now recognised as, 'the gold standard by which all other novels are judged'. They also triggered his conversion to outspoken pacifist.

Alan's expedition takes him to the Tatar city of Kazan, where Tolstoy was a teenager, the siege of Sevastopol on the Black Sea and Imperial St Petersburg, as well as the idyllic Tolstoy country estate, the writer's cradle and grave, and home throughout his passionate but brutal 48-year marriage to Sofya - a marriage that began with rape, produced 13 children and ended with desertion and denial.

Contributors include Tolstoy's great great grandson Vladimir Tolstoy, AN Wilson and author of a Tolstoy biography, Rosamund Bartlett.

1 hour, 5 minutes

Last on

Mon 7 Mar 2016 22:00


Role Contributor
Presenter Alan Yentob
Executive Producer Ross Wilson
Executive Producer Fiona Morris


  • Sun 27 Mar 2011 22:25
  • Sun 27 Mar 2011 22:45
  • Sat 2 Apr 2011 19:55
  • Mon 7 Mar 2016 22:00