The Romanovs inhabit a world of family rivalry, imperial ambition, lurid glamour, sexual excess and depraved sadism; this is a world where obscure strangers suddenly claim to be dead monarchs reborn, brides are poisoned, fathers torture their sons to death, sons kill fathers, wives murder husbands, a holy man, poisoned and shot, arises, apparently from the dead, dwarfs are tossed, beheaded heads are kissed, tongues are torn out, flesh knouted off bodies, rectums impaled, children slaughtered; here are fashion-mad nymphomaniacal empresses, lesbian menages a trois, and an emperor who wrote the most erotic correspondence ever written by a head of state...And you thought your family had problems.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
"Fun" Family Du Jour: The Romanovs
"Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," observed Tolstoy, in what is perhaps the most astute, and certainly the most succinct, description of familial dysfunction ever written. But I bet no family was as unhappy--and as dysfunctional--as the Romanovs, absolute rulers of a massive swath of the globe. Here's Simon Sebag Montefiore in his latest book The Romanovs (my non-fiction read du jour; I'm a sucker for Russian history in general and this dynasty in particular) itemizing some of the family drama: