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Tolstoy, Countess Sophia.

LETTER: ALS to 'Dear Sir or dear Madam'.


Countess Tolstoy
discussing the ownership of her late husband's manuscripts
Tolstoy, Sophie. Autograph letter signed, "Css Sophia Tolstoy," to "Dear Sir or Madam," December 27, 1912 - January 9, 1913; two leaves (one bifoliate), three pages total; 5 ½ x 8 ¼ inches.
Sophia Tolstoy writes two years after her husband's death of the continuing difficulties in repossession for publication Tolstoy's manuscripts and diaries, due to the complications in legally and ethically defining their ownership. According to her, "many years ago" her husband had given her his papers, but upon his death bequeathed the same material to their daughter. In the words of the Countess, "He could not, by law, give anything what he gave before to somebody else" - and as a result of the double-gifting, neither the Countess nor her daughter had full ownership of the material. Sophia's attempt to collaborate with her daughter met with refusal:
After my husband's death I proposed to my daughter to come with me to the museum and take all the copies of my husband's manuscripts for publishing them. She refused, and send [sic] instead a notarial paper to the Museum, in which she forbided [sic] not only to take my papers, but not to let me enter the room, where they were kept. And now the Museum does not give all what I deposed there, neither to me, nor to my daughter. I gave her all the manuscripts I had at home, in my possession, for to publish them. (2)
In fact, Tolstoy's will had been altered near his death to leave his chief disciple, Vladimir Chertkov, in charge of his estate, but the Countess openly asserted that her husband had been cruelly manipulated. She writes that she would like to have the manuscripts returned to her - "to save them from a certain Mr. Tchertkof [Chertkov]," calling the Tolstoyan "a very ill-minded gentleman, who has done much harm to me and my family, and had profited of the count's old age and weakness of mind, to take great influence upon him." She vehemently recounts her side of the story:  
This Mr. Tchertkof has taken great many manuscripts from Count Tolstoy when I was not at home, and has send [sic] them to England, to his own house. My wish is to keep them in Russia. My husband's wish was during his life to give me his manuscripts, and it is I who took care of them. His later testament was surely for the latest works, and he was forced to write his will in terms, which were composed and imposed to him by Mr. Tchertkof and company. (2-3)
She closes, "I hope that justice will be for me, and am waiting now, how our government in Russia will decide this affair."
Vladimir Chertkov, born into a Russian aristocratic family but exiled to England in 1897, was editor-in-chief of the Russian-language complete works of Tolstoy. His role as executor was contentious but ultimately upheld.  Countess Sophia Tolstoy married at the age of eighteen and eventually bore thirteen children in what she described as a complicated marriage, filled with inconsistency by a man who preached chastity and poverty but personally embraced neither. Her public image was maligned by Chertkov's efforts to gain control of Tolstoy's work but her memoirs give her side of the story - previously unpublished, they finally made it to print in 2010.  

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