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Fragments from My Diary


'Leo Tolstoy once said to a lizard in a low whisper: "Are you happy?"

'The lizard was warming itself on a stone among the schrubs that grew on the road to Bulber, while he stood watching it, his hands thrust inside his leather belt. Then, cautiously looking round, the great man confided to the lizard: "As for me - I'm not!"'

Revolutionary, traveller, one-time tramp, worker in a bakery, on barges and railways, Gorky's great vision of Russia was ingrained in the palms of his hands. This wealth of experience, and a genius for storytelling, turns these so-called 'fragments' into a wonderfully idiosyncratic biography of his country.

'Extraordinarily Russian, not just in its subject matter, its pictures of the Revolution, its descriptions of encounters with Tolstoy, Chekhov and Blok, but in the way it conveys so authentically the brute size of the country, its harshness, its speech-habits, its popular myths and songs...and there is a marvelous frosty immediacy to his prose' - The Times

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