Monday, March 29, 2010

The bearded Russian

It is a hundred years since Leo Tolstoy died, but what strikes us most is the modernity of his prose

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need, said Cicero. We have a garden much larger than we really need, and a library that is inevitably too small. In any season, but especially in the rains, one likes to be surrounded by piles of unexplored volumes.

But the damp here in Kerala is an enemy of books. A crisp new book has a curly cover by the time it has sat half a day on the coffee table. I check anxiously on our few prized leather-bound or cloth-covered books, when I can bear to think about them. Last monsoon, finding a fur of white fungus on my cloth-bound Everyman edition of Anna Karenina, with cleansing sunshine several weeks away, I did the unthinkable. I sold the book with the old newspapers. I still owned a fungus-free paperback edition of the book, which is my only excuse.

Full report here Hindu

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