photo from www.englishrussia.com
"Ivan Ozolin stared at this crowd. Perhaps he'd known they'd come, eventually, that the life of Leo Tolstoy was as precious to the people of his country as the earth itself and that, if he was going to die, they would want some part in his dying. He could see straight away that many of the arrivals were newsmen with cameras and as they milled around on the platform- looking in vain for some grand Station Hotel or the presence of a commodious Telegraph Office- he felt himself surrender to them, to the grand circus that was accumulating at Astapovo. He wanted to embrace them, to say, 'You were right to come! Life is uneventful, my friends! Don't I know it! But here's an event: the dying Tolstoy, trying to keep his wife at bay! So come and get your bit of it and remember for ever whatever you think it teaches you'." -The Jester of Astapovo, Rose Tremain, featured in The Guardian, Saturday 24 May.