About Aleksey Tolstoy:
Aleksey Tolstoy was born January 10, 1883, in the Russian Empire and was the son of a count. His mother was a relative of the renowned Russian writer, Ivan Turgenev. A member of the Tolstoy family of Russian nobles, Aleksey was a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy.
Tolstoy had a rocky beginning. His father, a rake, wouldn’t settle down. Forced to leave his cavalry regiment due to rowdy excesses, he relocated to Samara, Russia, where he met and married Aleksey’s mother. The Tolstoys had three children, but Aleksey’s father wound up being exiled for insulting the Governor of Samara. When he was allowed to return, he challenged a fellow nobleman to a duel.
By this time, Aleksey’s mother was two months pregnant with him and had fallen in love with another man, Aleksei Bostrom. She was granted a divorce from Tolstoy on the condition that she could never remarry. She left with her lover, and the couple was ostracized by society, her family, the Russian nobility, and the church. Because the church rejected them, they raised Aleksey in an atheistic household and became admirers of the writings of Karl Marx.
At age 13, Aleksey discovered Bostrom wasn’t his real father, but he had always considered him as such and still did, even after learning the truth. He refused to ever see Count Nikolai Tolstoy or his older siblings. When the Count died in 1900, he left an inheritance to his youngest son, which enabled Aleksey to study in St. Petersburg.
When he was nineteen, he married a woman named Julia, whose father was a doctor, but he later abandoned her and their infant son, entering a common law marriage with another woman, Sophia. He later learned from his ex-wife that the child he’d left behind died at age three from meningitis.
By 1910, Tolstoy’s writings were earning praise. He continued to write and publish popular stories, and soon he and his wife were in demand at the homes of nobles and others with money. Soon afterward, Tolstoy continued his pattern, abandoning Sophia and their young daughter. He later married one of his mistresses, Natalia, in 1915. During the civil war, he sided with the White Army, and the couple sought refuge in Paris. During his time in France, he continued to write.
Tolstoy is credited with producing some of the earliest works of science fiction in the Russian language. One story, Aelita (1923) was about a journey to Mars. He also penned a number of children’s stories, including an adaptation of the Italian fairy tale, Pinocchio, titled, The Golden Key (also known as the Adventures of Buratino, published in 1936). Although considered to be one of the most gifted Russian writers of the 20th Century, some scoffed at his success due to his lack of moral and social responsibility.
During World War II, Tolstoy served on a Russian Extraordinary State Commission, which “ascertained without reasonable doubt” the mass extermination of people by the German occupiers. Aleksey Tolstoy died on February 23, 1945, in Moscow.
About The Adventures of Buratino:
(From its Wikipedia page.) Like Pinocchio, Buratino is a long-nosed wooden puppet. According to the story, he is carved by Papa Carlo from a log, and suddenly comes to life. Upon creation, Buratino comes out long-nosed due to Papa Carlo’s sloppy woodworking. Papa Carlo tries to shorten it, but Buratino resists.
Papa Carlo then sells his only good jacket in order to buy textbooks for Buratino and sends him to school. However, the boy becomes distracted by an advertisement for a local puppet theater show, and sells his textbooks to buy a ticket to the show. There he befriends other puppets, but the evil puppetmaster Karabas Barabas wants to destroy him because Buratino disrupted the show.
Karabas Barabas releases Buratino after he learns that Papa Carlo’s home contains a secret door for which Karabas has been searching. A Golden Key that Karabas once possessed, but later lost, opens this secret door. Karabas releases Buratino and even gives him five gold coins, asking only that Buratino watch after his father’s home and make sure they do not move.
The story proceeds to tell of Buratino and his friends’ hunt for the Golden Key, and their struggle against the evil Karabas, his loyal friend Duremar, as well as a couple of crooks: Alice the Fox and Basilio the Cat, who are after Buratino’s coins. Many of Buratino’s further adventures are however derived from Collodi’s Pinocchio, reworked to fit into Tolstoy’s story.
How did Tolstoy get the idea for The Adventures of Buratino:
According to Tolstoy, he had read the book Pinocchio as a child, but had lost the book. Many years later, he started re-imagining the story to tell to his own children. The resulting story was original enough for him to decide to write and publish it.
Quote by Aleksey Tolstoy:
- “Many men are like sausages. Whatever you stuff them with, that they will bear in them.”