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Love and the Party

Jane Miller, 2 July 1981

A Great Love 
by Alexandra Kollontai, translated by Cathy Porter.
Virago, 156 pp., £2.50, March 1981, 0 86068 188 2
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Love of Worker Bees 
by Alexandra Kollontai, translated by Cathy Porter.
Virago, 232 pp., £2.95, October 1977, 0 86068 006 1
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... had a long affair with the considerably younger Dybenko, who was famously romantic and a soldier. Cathy Porter quotes Lenin as saying of this liaison: ‘I will not vouch for the reliability or endurance of women whose love affairs are intertwined with politics.’ Stalin was more explicit and sneering. Trotsky remembers that ‘Stalin, with whom I had ...

The War between the Diaries

John Bayley, 5 December 1985

Tolstoy’s Diaries 
translated by R.F. Christian.
Athlone, 755 pp., £45, October 1985, 0 485 11276 0
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The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy 
translated by Cathy Porter.
Cape, 1043 pp., £30, September 1985, 0 224 02270 9
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... survived. After his death Sofia’s writing loses its zest and becomes exculpatory and tedious. Cathy Porter has done an excellent translation of the complete diaries, adding as appendices Sofia’s notes on her girlhood and the early part of her marriage. Detailed family trees enhance the quality of the book’s ...

Some Wild Creature

James Meek: Tolstoy Leaves Home, 22 July 2010

The Death of Tolstoy: Russia on the Eve, Astapovo Station, 1910 
by William Nickell.
Cornell, 209 pp., £18.95, May 2010, 978 0 8014 4834 8
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The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy 
translated by Cathy Porter.
Alma, 609 pp., £9.99, February 2010, 978 1 84688 102 2
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A Confession 
by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Anthony Briggs.
Hesperus, 146 pp., £7.99, February 2010, 978 1 84391 190 6
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Anniversary Essays on Tolstoy 
by Donna Tussing Orwin.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £55, February 2010, 978 0 521 51491 0
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... What are we saying when we say someone has ‘gone out of their mind’? The thing about going out of your mind is that the mind is still there; you can go back. You haven’t lost your mind. You’ve just gone out of it. The Russians use the same phrase. The Russian adjective meaning ‘crazy’, which is the same as the noun for ‘insane person’, is sumasshedshy, literally ‘who was going out of their mind ...

Boarder or Day Boy?

Bernard Porter: Secrecy in Britain, 15 July 1999

The Culture of Secrecy in Britain 1832-1998 
by David Vincent.
Oxford, 364 pp., £25, January 1999, 0 19 820307 1
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... over the Belgrano affair and against CND. In his case, the whistleblowers, Clive Ponting and Cathy Massiter, can be seen as representing the older, honourable order, protesting against ‘ungentlemanly’ subversion (by a man who had had to ‘buy his own furniture’) from the inside. In this way their unease was symptomatic of a deep tension. For years ...

Where will we live?

James Meek: The Housing Disaster, 9 January 2014

... years later set up the homelessness charity Shelter, just as the nation was absorbing the shock of Cathy Come Home, Ken Loach’s film about homelessness – founded the Notting Hill Housing Trust, which today, as the Notting Hill Housing Association, has 27,000 homes in London. In 1968 the architects David Levitt and David Bernstein and the planner Beverly ...

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