Books: The Doctor & the Sage

TOLSTOY: A LIFE OF MY FATHER (543 pp.)—Alexandra Tolsyoy—Harper ($5).

CHEKHOV: A LIFE (431 pp.)—David Magarshack—Grove Press ($6).

Count Leo Tolstoy believed that "gymnastics do not interfere with running an estate." His serfs disagreed. "You come to the master for orders," complained the village elder, "and the master in a red shirt is hanging upside down from a pole; his hair is all hanging around, his face flushed. You don't know whether to listen to orders or stand and gape."

Most Russians found themselves in the elder's predicament when Tolstoy, his face more flushed than...

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