The only image in my mind that goes with “Rasputin” is from the animated movie, Anastasia, which features him as a (mostly) undead man read: zombie, with a talking bat and a creepy reliquary he sold his soul to. That is the beginning and the end of my knowledge of him–the “holy” man that brought down the last Tsar of Russia and ended an empire. But facts make the picture a little more complicated. For who could imagine the undead man with two daughters? Though Kathryn Harrison’s book is fiction, it’s based on an absurdly interesting fact–that the daughter of Rasputin ended up as a lion tamer. The book reimagines this legendary story with a heroine with a gift for storytelling and a devotion to her father’s memory. He becomes a much more complex person through her eyes. The book is enchanting, told with lots of imagery and plenty of stories so that you are constantly bewitched by the narrative. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in the world of Anastasia and the Romanovs and who is not quite convinced by the image of a zombie Rasputin.
Has there been a figure from history who has grown more complicated in your eyes based on research or even based on different fictions?