Leo Tolstoy

Many years ago a friend made one of the most perceptive comments I have ever heard about Russian writers. “Yeah,” he said, “they’re profound and all that. But they’re also incredibly hard. I mean, there’s Pushkin: died in a duel. Lermontov: died in a duel. Tolstoy: fought in the Caucasus. Dostoevsky: sentenced to death, exiled to a Siberian prison camp. Solzhenitsyn: fought in the second world war, sent to the Gulag, survived cancer, defied the USSR …”

“Don’t forget Griboyedov,” I added. “Torn to pieces by angry Persians after he tried to save an Armenian eunuch. And Varlam Shalamov: Seventeen years in the Gulag.”

“Yeah – and what have English authors done? Dickens? Who did he fight?”

Read More – Guardian: Russians: the world’s hardest writers

(Thanks Bryce!)