A new and astonishingly frank diary covering the last decade of Leo Tolstoy's life has been discovered in a hen-hut outside Moscow. After extensive tests literary experts have recognised it as genuine. Here are two extracts in which Sonya explains the difficulty of living with the great man:
Jan 4th: 1901:
He has become impossible. He spent hours talking to visitors from India last night. I could hear their voices downstairs and could not sleep. In the morning I found him in the lounge seated on a chair, my best chair, scribbling away as if he hadn't a care in the world. I have warned him repeatedly about writing in the lounge but he pays no attention.
"This is THE LOUNGE for crying out loud!" I told him.
I tried politely to explain to him how difficult it is to remove ink stains from velvet but he just went on scribbling as if I wasn't there and wouldn't even remove his boots from my other chair. And you won't believe what he did then. He lit up his pipe! I had to rush and open all the windows. He knows perfectly well what tobacco smoke does to the lounge and how much I hate it.
He just doesn't care. I don't see him trying to clean up the mess he creates. No, he leaves that to me or the servants! All he cares about is his bloody writing as if it was something. Two years after he is dead it will be all forgotten.
I then politely asked him to remove his shirt so that I could wash it but he flew into a blind fury, his veins standing out on his temples like ropes. I am sick of him. He has no respect for his own property. Why can't he go to his study and write where he belongs? I sometimes wonder if he is a man at all. I certainly don't like the way he and Anton Chekhov seem to get along so well, laughing and carrying on the way they do!
Also, he refuses to go and post his own letters. I keep telling him it would do him good to walk into the village now and then as he would get some exercise. But, all he wants to do is write as if anybody really wanted to read the shit.
I tried to read some of it once and had to give up.
Jan 5th, 1901:
Then there's the bathing. He will only shower once every two days now. It's not enough!
"Too cold," says he.
I married a tramp, no doubt about it.
True, we have no sexual relationships these days but his body odour does annoy the kitchen staff and the dogs. I am at the end of my tether with Leo. Nobody knows what I have to put up with.
I found a pair of his dirty socks under his bed yesterday. I would have fallen down into a faint and likely hit my head on something and bled to death if I had not held onto the dresser. I do not exaggerate when I say they must have been there for a whole week.
When I brought the matter to his attention he flew into yet another rage. I honestly think he is mad. I figure two years after he is dead... and I cannot wait!.. nobody will read his rantings. I remind him of that too but he doesn't believe me.
Who the hell does he think he is anyway? It's the people he surrounds himself with who have his head twisted. I try to keep them away from him but do I get any thanks for my good intentions? I have to contend with yet another rage. And I used to think he was a gentleman.
I am beginning to hate myself for my gullibility. Thank God my parents are not around to witness my sufferings. I keep telling him to pack it in... all this writing stuff... and get a decent job such as a cobbler might have, but he just doesn't listen any more. All he talks about is "freedom", whatever that is.
And whenever there is an earthquake or some natural disaster in the papers he does not take a blind bit of notice any more. I should have listened to my friends and my mother. I honestly think he cares more about writing and ruining my beautiful lounge than he does about me.
Great man my arse! If people only knew! A filthy tramp with idiot notions about himself and no respect for property whatsoever is what I married.