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Ivan the Terrible

By (author) Alfred Apsler
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Bailey Bros.& Swinfen Ltd, Kent, United Kingdom
Published: 30th Nov 1971
Dimensions: w 140mm h 220mm
ISBN-10: 0561001138
ISBN-13: 9780561001135
Barcode No: 9780561001135

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Kirkus US
Ivan the pathological, the schizophrenic, the paranoid czar ("Had psychiatrists existed in those days, they would have diagnosed a dangerous persecution complex"). Mr. Apsler is quite the stylist and here he assays a psychoanalytical biography of the man whose debauchery and carnage were only equalled by his contrition. The mechanics of history are slighted, however, in the wake of all the extravagant novelistic forays; thus, re the Cossack conquest of Sibir, it is leader Yermak's conquest of a woman that is stressed - "The bearded giant bowed, and when she offered her cheek for the welcome kiss, his lips lingered on the rosy skin longer than etiquette required. . . . " If Apsler lingers longer than anyone would require on the tortures, romances, and ceremony of Ivan's reign, he does at least nudge to the fore and functionally interpret the chief turning points in his life: the child, subjected to violence, as father of the man; the influence of the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan on Ivan's self-perception as God's annointed one, commissioned to found "The Third Rome"; the improvement of his character with "marital bliss" and the subsequent deterioration thereof upon his first wife's death; the Moscow fire as a catharsis, albeit a temporary one; the final, total loss of resilience after his son's death by his (Ivan's) own hand. Where politico-military affairs of state are in question. Apsler tends either to posit effect before cause, confusingly, or to pass over the meat of an event in favor of pre- and post-mortems. For readers concerned with more critical matters than the czar's "surprising originality. . . when it came to inflicting punishment," there are less distractable authors to turn to - Tamara Talbot Rice, the Horizon Caravel editors. This really is drama on the acceptable side of sensational, historical circumstance taking a back seat to literary pomp; it is revealing insofar as il perceives and projects Ivan as other than 'terrible,' but not significantly informing in broad, panoramic respects. (Kirkus Reviews)