Tsar Fyodor Ivanovitch: A Play in Five Acts
by Alexei Tolstoy (9781410209788)

Tsar Fyodor Ivanovitch: A Play in Five Acts
Alexei Tolstoy
Release Date: 22 December 2003
Format: Paperback
Pages: 108
Category: Continental European
ISBN: 9781410209788
ISBN-10: 1410209784

For those who are not close students of Russian literature, it is well to identify the author of Tsar Fyodor as the elder cousin of Count Leo Tolstoy and a poet and dramatist whose plays are more highly esteemed by Russian critics than those of his more versatile, provocative and celebrated relative. Born in 1817 and dying in 1875, his fame rests chiefly on a dramatic trilogy from Russian history: The Death of Ivan the Terrible (1866), Tsar Fyodor Ivanovitch (1875), and Tsar Boris (1870). Spanning three successive reigns, from 1533 to 1604, this trilogy dramatizes an epoch in Russian history roughly parallel to the height of Tudor power in England. The most human, pathetic and moving of these three plays is Tsar Fyodor, whose action is set midway in that weak but pious monarch's rule, 1584-1598. Russia had been exhausted by the bloody fanaticism of Ivan the Terrible, whose insane temper had done to death his elder and abler son. Fyodor, the younger, succeeded to the throne, only to find his realm torn wide open by factional fights among the boyars, headed on the one hand by his imperial chancellor, Boris Godunoff, and on the other by Prince Ivan Petrovitch Shouisky, with prince and princess, priest and peasant, as mere pawns in the struggle. Striving passionately to compose these feuds, but powerless in his vacillation to affect their course, he is one of the most appealing figures in all historical drama. Around this amazing character study, the dramatist has woven a gorgeous medieval tapestry of word and action. Tsar Fyodor is like nothing so much in our language as the Shakespearean chronicles of Plantagenet, Lancastrian, York and Tudor. As the English poet revived the colorful entourages of departed reigns for the sake of the opportunity to depict character among the various Richards and Henrys, so the Russian poet has herein restored the entire pageantry of the court of an ancient Tsar.

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