Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bea’s Books (9)

On Bea’s bookshelf stand numerous books on Russia, my father’s homeland. Bea has left her mark in several.

The first page of David Remnick’s Lenin’s Tomb is covered with scribbles to indicate passages she particularly recommends.

On March 1, 1994, she used a paper clip to attach a pamphlet to the inside cover of Troyat’s biography of Tolstoy: “The Real Tolstoy, A Critique and Commentary on the book Tolstoy by Henri Troyat.” Across the top, she has written in neat script: “Perhaps this booklet should be attached to Troyat’s book?”

In the autumn of 1997, Bea read David Magarshack’s biography of Ivan Turgenev. She has underlined certain passages and then apologized for doing so: “Sorry for underlining!” BG. On the first page she has noted references to writing, religion, Shakespeare, and death, including this question Turgenev asked a friend in one of his letters: “‘Is death really nothing but the extinction of life?’”

Bea did extensive research with my father for “Private World of the Last Tsar,” a collection of photos taken by my grandfather, published in 1984. She always let Dad take credit for this critically acclaimed history and intimate portrait of the Russian royal family, but I now realize her role in its conception and writing was impressive.

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