Cote, Maureen E.
Maureen E. Cote is a specialist in nineteenth century Russian literature with an M.S. in Slavic Languages and Literature from Ohio State University.2010 0-7734-1413-4
This is the first English translation of Sophia Tolstoy’s short story, Who’s to Blame?
, published in Russia in 1994. Sophia had written the story almost one hundred years earlier to rebut her husband Leo’s cynical views about love and marriage, including male sexuality, adultery, and jealousy, expressed in his novel published in 1888,
The Kreutzer Sonata
At first Sophia Tolstoy did not see any connection between the attitudes
expressed toward women in The Kreutzer Sonata and her marriage to
Tolstoy; but when she heard that Alexander III remarked, upon reading the novel, that he felt sorry for her, her vanity was offended. Worse, the Tsar’s pity was followed by expressions of sympathy from her family and friends. Sophia was particularly disturbed by the condolences of Tolstoy’s best friend Dmitri Dyakov and by Tolstoy’s older brother Sergei. What did these two men know about Tolstoy’s feelings toward her and their marriage that Sophia did not know?
Sophia compared the jealousy of Tolstoy’s protagonist, Pozdnyshev, to the unwarranted jealousy that Tolstoy inflicted on Sophia throughout their
married life. She knew that she had never given Tolstoy any reason for doubt her fidelity. The sophisticated courtiers took one look at the matronly mother of nine and knew that Sophia was neither a coquette nor an adulteress. What then, the courtiers wondered, was the real reason for the rage
that erupted from Tolstoy’s pen against women in The Kreutzer Sonata?