Timo von Bock's release by the Czar from nine years' incarceration does not spell the end of the Baron's troubles: he is confined to his Livonian estate to live under the constant eye of police informers planted among his own household, and is subjected to endless humiliations. It is claimed that he is a madman and in need of 'protection': a man would need to be insane, after all, to have taken a Czar at his word when asked for a candid appraisal of the state's infirmities.
From the year of his release from prison and return to his wife Eeva, a woman of peasant stock to whom, with her brother Jakob, he has given a solid education, the Baron's life is recorded in a secret journal by this same Jakob, a shrewd and observant house-guest.
Reconstructing the events leading up to the Baron's incarceration in 1818 and subsequent to his release in 1827, Jakob little by little brings to light mysteries surrounding the 'Czar's madman'. Was his madness genuine? What was the secret understanding between him and his boon companion Czar Alexander I, who committed him to prison?
In The Czar's Madman Jaan Kross weaves together the elements of intrigue surrounding those historical characters who survived in post-Napoleonic Russia, and by a skillful shifting of chronology and viewpoints, creates a superbly rich and moving narrative.
Winner of France's Best Foreign Book Award.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 364 g
Dimensions: 216 x 135 x 27 mm
"Spellbindingly readable" -- John Bayley * Times Literary Supplement *
"This gripping novel of the folly of idealism set in the post-Napoleonic Russian empire, has helped Jaan Kross to the stature of world-class novelist... An outdated, almost forgotten moral beauty struggles with the force of modern, well-meaning compromise" * The Times *
"The Czar's Madman is no bloodless allegory but a rich slice of reconstructed history... Kross creates an abundant human landscape with nothing schematic about it" * Observer *
"This author's scope and depth make him a world writer, and his work is translated into every major language" -- Doris Lessing * Independent *