Bloody hell, a post about Grigory Rasputin? Are we Communists!? Whatever, fools, we’re here to report about the book we’re currently reading – Rasputin: A Short Life. There’s a lot of mythology surrounding the Bearded One, and this concise book, by Frances Welch, helps to really shave off the fluff and get to the heart of the man.
What we find is someone who’s genuinely bonkers. We mean properly mad. The Siberian peasant turned himself into a legendary mystic with his habit of making wild boasts, which people dimwittedly seemed to go along with. He generally forced himself into situations, and he had the ability to alleviate the symptoms of haemophilia (relentless bleeding) in the Tsar’s son Alexis. Due to this he rose to immense power in Russia and had a major part in the downfall of the tsarist regime.
All that’s well known, what isn’t well known are the details of his personality. This is what Welch displays in revealing detail: his illiteracy, the bizarre delusions, his habit of bursting into spontaneous dance at inappropriate moments, the womanising, and his love for telephone conversations. Indeed, he and his daughter Maria would prank call people in the local phone book, scaring the bejeezus out of them.
As a result, what we have here is a revealing insight into one heck of a strange dude. How on Earth did he rise to such a position of power? It seems incomprehensible to us now, but this great little book spills the beans. Rasputin and his beard (which he wouldn’t clean, incidentally, instead choosing to let it fester with food and stink up the place) are revealed in concise form, so if this sort of stuff interests you, get it read.