The Tolstoys – Geniuses and Madmen

Outside a bright autumn day, inside in the fine restaurant of the Polish Hearth Club, flickering candles giving a warm glow. Count Nikolai Dmitrievich Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, head of the renowned Tolstoy family and a cousin of Leo Tolstoy, came to support his friends at the club in their efforts to raise funds for its restoration.

Count Tolstoy said that it was strange giving a talk on one’s own family and begun with some amusing anecdotes,  about being the bearer of such a well-known surname. With wit and verve, he then went on to relate extraordinary tales of memorable Tolstoys of the past, bar the most famous one of all – Leo, as enough is known about him! With a historian’s thoroughness, he did not spare any of his subjects.

The Tolstoys 1

Count Tolstoy, achieved notoriety when he alleged that Lord Aldington, and the British Government, were complicit in forced repatriation of soldiers during/after World War 11. Tolstoy lost the ensuing libel case brought by Lord Aldington, and it is unclear how a settlement was eventually reached. Count Tolstoy, is a also a writer and historian, and has written prominently on various topics, including the well researched "Victims of Yalta", which draws attention to how very nearly much of the Polish army was forced back to a by now communist Poland after the war.

The year 1353 is the date when the Tolstoy family came to Russia. Peter Tolstoy, known as the ‘cunningest’ man in the Russian Empire, worked as a Minister for Peter the Great. He was also remarkable in that he was the first Russian to keep a diary. In his service of  the Tsar, he committed an appalling crime for which a curse  was laid upon the Tolstoy Family for 30 generations, that there would be a generation of geniuses followed by a generation of madmen! Thus, the stage was set for the rest of the family stories, which seemed to cover the spectrum from genius to madness, and sometimes both in one person!  Peter Tolstoy got his comeuppance in the end...  as a lot of the others did too....

There was Alexei Tolstoy who became an apologist for the communists and, was given a State Burial by Stalin in 1945. “The best punishment,” said Count Nikolai,”is that no one reads his books!”.

He said that the Tolstoys were never particularly rich by Russian standards. “The only rich ones are the ones who marry someone rich! “

Date: 16 October 2012