The Silver Prince

  • Published: September 2007
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 336
  • Size: 5.5x8.5
  • ISBN: 9781412090841

The novel begins in 1565, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The Czar had just instituted the ferocious policing force of social upstarts, the oprichnina, who wage Ivan's personal war of fear against the old boyar families of the Russian aristocracy. With virtues the quality of silver, the hero of this story, Prince Serebryany (which translates as 'silver'), returns to Russia from five years fighting at the Lithuanian front to find things quite changed. Ivan's paranoia is a perfect foil for Prince Serebryany's moral uprightness; never does he doubt the Czar's role, never does he step outside his moral code of honor, while Ivan irrationally calls for mass executions, sentencing to death anyone his advisors whisper to him about. Out of favor with the Czar after a conflict with the oprichnina, the prince flees Moscow and finds himself elected the leader of a band of outlaws.

The Silver Prince was Alexey Konstantinovich (commonly referred to as A. K.) Tolstoy's first full length novel. Best known as a poet and dramatist, Tolstoy (1817-1875) was a Romantic writer in the midst of the dominant Realist movement. However, the reading public in nineteenth century Russia, and still today, loved the novel for its dramatic scenes of outlaw and court life where greed and virtue collide, while contemporary writers, steeped in the tenets of Realist literature, disliked the very romance the public enjoyed. As a close confidant of the Empress Maria Alexandrovna, who shared his interest in mysticism, Tolstoy read parts of this novel to her while he wrote it; it is the only prose work he dedicated to her.

The first English translation appeared in 1892, under the title Prince Serebryany, then in 1927 as Prince of Outlaws. This translation was done for the sheer love of the story and its lively descriptions.

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