Sunday, October 19, 2008

What kind of person reads Tolstoy?

What a busy, clamouring crowd in the picture above! Gosh darn whatever can they be doing? Are they doing a crossword? Trying to place a last minute bet on the fifth at Randwick? Splitting the bill?

No - appearances can be deceiving, can't they? They are in fact the Zaporzhye Cossacks writing a letter to the Turkish Sultan, as brought to us by the brush of Ilya Repin.

This busy painting graces the cover of a copy of Tolstoy's The Cossacks that I bought from a trendite little second-hand book store a few years ago.

Just as we might have been initially confused as to what the peeps in the painting are doing, the bookseller was confused as to what I was doing buying Tolstoy. Said he: "You don't look like the kind of person who reads Tolstoy".

So I've always wondered: what does a Tolstoy reader look like? Bearded? Grey-haired? Frowny? Devious? Noble? Disillusioned? Questing of moral stability? Impatient with intellectual dishonesty? Aloof from the Russian intelligentsia?

Must one not smile when purchasing Tolstoy? Must one give a short treatise on non-violent anarchy and mutter about what the aristocrats can learn from the peasants as one hands over one's $4?

Sheesh, I just wanna'd ta read ma book.

Next time I buy Tolstoy I'm wearing a snorkle and Dame Edna glasses. What the heck darn will the poor chappy make of that?

1 comment:

Manuel Noriega said...

Dear Kettle, I googled it.

Turns out the only people who read Tolstoy are those who can't pronounce, "Dostoyevsky."

This is great news for you and fully guaranteed by the Commonwealth up to 100,000 Tolstoys!