Lev Tolstoy (1828-1910) was not only a great author – he was also something of an empire. He lived in a time of immense social contradictions, wrote and commented on everything – from morality and religion to politics and social issues – and his influence was so great that one could argue that Russia had three power centers during his lifetime: the Tsar, the Church and Tolstoy himself.
When, for various reasons, Carola Hansson began to immerse herself in his work and in the documentary material surrounding his person (letters, diaries, eyewitness sources and biographies of all kinds), she was not only struck by the contradiction of his person and of the deepness he was disturbed by in the conflict between ideal and reality, between the ascetic Christian socialism he preached and the life he lived as an estate and landowner – but also to the extent to which Tolstoj’s family seemed to live in a strange borderland between life and poems. Tolstoy was not just a writer who gained inspiration from life around him; He also seems to have ruled and shaped his life with the written word – in the most prophetic way. The fact that the author chose to write about his son Andrej was due, among other things, to him being the black sheep of the family; the strongest and perhaps most self-destructive sought to oppose the father’s power and ideas. Unlike the other family, he did not write diary.
The novel begins in 1904. On a train heading east through Russia against Manchurite. Andrej is voluntarily on his way out in the Russian-Japanese war. He feels compelled to fulfill the threatening prophecy about his future as the father has written in the drama `The Living Body ‘- a sedictory story that ends with his alter ego, the immoral Fedja, fulfilling the duty to take his life. The journey through the vast landscape wakes Andrejs’s memories to life. Memories of childhood, of the ever-endangered upper class life in Moscow and on the estate Jasnaya Polyana and, not least, of his conflicted relationship with the father.
The novel Andrej was nominated for the August Prize and was awarded the Lundequistska Bookstore Literature Prize, the Torgny Segerstedt Prize, the Swedish Radio’s Great Novel Prize and a later Swedish Academy’s Signe Ekbladh-Eldh’s Prize.
The novel is translated to Finnish, Russian, Lithuanian and is also published in China.