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The Czar's Madman (Jaan Krossi kogutud teosed #5)

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  849 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Timo von Bock's release by the Czar from nine years' incarceration does not spell the end of the Baron's troubles: he is confined to his Livonian estate to live under the constant eye of police informers planted among his own household, and is subjected to endless humiliations. It is claimed that he is a madman and in need of 'protection': a man would need to be insane, af ...more
Paperback, 349 pages
Published 2003 by The Harvill Press (first published 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,379)
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Dec 19, 2012 Mariel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: straight jacketed bees
Recommended to Mariel by: the little bird blabbed to the wrong censor
Here is a conclusion I have reached: leaving the question of God aside, I certainly won't lose sleep over "the fatherland." I have seen what total devotion to it may entail. Partial devotion to it may imply treason, but a true and total devotion to the fatherland, such as Timo's, would be sheer madness. Or is there yet another alternative? Or all possibilities in this world simply alternatives? Even in the "gently swaying separate world of the reeds at dusk"?

The Czar's Madman is an historical
Mar 30, 2007 Conrad rated it it was amazing
Kross is one of the better writers you've never read. An Estonian who I believe is still alive albeit ancient, he wrote his only two long works that have been translated into English (this and Professor Marten's Departure) under Soviet rule, managing to disguise a vicious and oftentimes funny critique of their authoritarian ways by writing about Estonians under the Tsar.

The Czar's Madman is about Timo von Bock, an actual Estonian nobleman, who has the gall to criticize the Tsar's authoritarian
Oct 19, 2008 Leland rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: russia, favorites
A brilliant novel written as a diary. Rich in 19th Century Estonian and Russian history. Vivid descriptions of the Estonian landscape, and one of the most compelling novels I've ever read. No spoilers, just a recommendation: anyone interested in Estonia who doesn't know of Jaan Kross, get this book. Anyone who loves 19th Century Russian Lit, read this book for a very unique perspective. Anyone who likes to read novels written in non-standard narrative formats, this is one of the finest.
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
don't worry: no spoilers here
First, let me say that I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction, and not what often passes for historical fiction; i.e., romantic novels set in an historical period. The Czar's Madman is not an easy read and demands patience and thorough reading, so if you're looking for light historical fiction this isn't the book for you. Otherwise, if, like myself, you enjoy fiction set during the Czarist period in Russia (which lasted, actually, through
Aug 09, 2011 Gordon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I was prepared to give Kross the benefit of the doubt because I have a soft spot for Estonia. It turns out there was no need... This was dazzling, one of the best books I have ever read. Timo von Bock - whether he was truly mad or not - is a man after my own heart, but with a thousand times the courage. The book as a whole is a wonderfully readable mix of tragedy, comedy, historical commentary and the touching life-stories of of beautifully-drawn characters, and raises some challenging questions ...more
May 23, 2016 Val rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-tour
The Czar's Madman is a historical novel set in the 19th century in Livonia (now split between Estonia and Latvia), when the Baltic States had been invaded, enslaved and absorbed into the Russian Empire. Jaan Kross lived through a time when Estonia was invaded by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet USSR. His family were well-off and German speaking, expected to side with the Nazis; he did not. (He just managed to miss Germany's earlier occupation in WW1 by being born too late, and I do not know what ...more
Scott Cox
"What is the truth? Well . . . that my recovery has been superficial . . . That she is in spite of everything, the wife of a madman." Thus states Timotheus von Bock (Timo), the 19th century Livonian nobleman exiled for his radical views on man, society and government. Timo writes “the sovereign must govern according to a law that stands above him, God’s name must not be taken in vain” and “the fatherland shall be represented by spokesman of the people,” views that in the eyes of Russian Czar Ale ...more
Aug 15, 2014 Caitlin rated it really liked it
"The Czar's Madman" is a fascinating historical fiction about a man who truly stands up with the courage of his convictions. The story is told through the eyes of Jakob, Timo's brother-in-law. Jakob is both a participant and an observer in the strange happenings in his sister, Eeva and her husband Timo's lives. The ethical heart of the novel is what constitutes duty: is Timo right to sacrifice his own well being and that of his family to try to change society, or is duty to family paramount?

Cristina - Athenae Noctua
Un diario, la storia di Timo von Bock, un tempo amico dello zar, ora accusato di alto tradimento e graziato perché sospetto di insanità. L'inseguimento di una verità che si cela nella Storia. Ma, soprattutto, una narrativa magistrale, capace di ricreare le atmosfere dell'Ottocento e il sapore della grande letteratura.
Apr 25, 2016 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sweeping novel in the classic sense; the sort of tale you can reread every ten years and each time find new insights. There is intrigue, danger, excitement, love, betrayal. It is not light reading but it is beautiful, emotionally powerful art – and exhausting to read.

Timotheus von Bock (Timo) is a nobleman, an officer, an intimate friend of the Czar and a dangerously modern thinker. He believes that monarchs have responsibility to rule fairly, that corrupt governments are invalid and t
Kristjan Lukk
May 16, 2015 Kristjan Lukk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mul tuli seda raamatut lugedes silme ette tohutult palju paralleele praegusest eestlaste sallimatuse laviinist. Neid, kes on identifitseerinud end kosmopoliitsete liberaalidena, peetakse hulludeks. Tõsi küll, mitte keisri, vaid suure osa ühiskonna poolt. Ühiskond, kes on ise vabanenud orjusest, mille protsessi kirjeldatakse "Keisri hullus", tahab oma isiklike kannatuste orjusesse jätta kõik neist erinevad inimesed. Kuigi raamat kirjeldavat ka 1970. aastate nõukogudevastast meelsust, ei saa neist ...more
Mar 03, 2015 Scott rated it really liked it
This historical novel, depicted through the journal entries of the Jakob Mattik, illustrates the complex, ubiquitous, insidious, and ultimately overwhelming power of an authoritarian regime to shape the lives and thoughts of individuals. The grave penalty for speaking truth to power - fearlessly and without remorse - is a loss of freedom, family, and ultimately, all. Illustrating the fate of those living in the shadow a great authoritarian power, this is a powerful story that sadly links directl ...more
Itse kertomus on kiinnostava. Lisäksi jälkisanoissa selviää, että suuri osa henkilöistä ja tapahtumista on totta, detaljeja myöten. On luottavainen olo, että Kross hallitsee yksityiskohdat. Kirja vilisee ranskan-, saksan-, viron- ja venäjänkielisiä tekstipätkiä. Osan ymmärsin, monia en. Harmillisesti huomasin vasta loppuun päästyäni, että käännökset löytyivät sieltä.

Valitettavasti en kuitenkaan pitänyt muodosta, jossa tarina tarjoiltiin. Kertomus on olevinaan "keisarin hullun" Timo von Bockin l
Feb 13, 2012 Shannon rated it it was ok
I found this book to be quite interesting and as a north american I found it to have a real European feel to it. It is written as a journal from the point of view of the brother-in-law of a Baron. The Baron is a unique character who has been influenced by French philosophies that don't sit well with the rest of the Russian aristocracy. When the Baron chooses a peasant girl to be his wife and has her educated (and her brother as well to keep her company) many already begin to believe that he is m ...more
Dec 09, 2013 Malcolm rated it it was amazing
The Livonian Baron, Timo van Bock, is a dunderheaded idealist who foolishly takes the Czar at his word of expecting to be told the truth – not recognising that the Czar’s truth and van Bock’s truth may not be the same thing. The result is that only a madman, a fool could be so idiotic to say what van Bock does; this cannot be treason – he’s a madman – but he must be isolated from those who do not recognise his views as those of a fool…. Van Bock disappears for nine years, bundled into the Imperi ...more
Rowland Bismark
Estonian nobleman Timotheus von Bock, friend and confidant of Tsar Alexander I, was an idealist. Not only did he marry one of his peasants, but in 1818 he wrote a memorandum to the Tsar saying exactly what he thought of him. Incarcerated in prison as a result, he was freed in 1827 on grounds of insanity but remained under surveillance. Such is the historical background to Kross' novel The Czar's Madman, which purports to be a journal kept by Jakob, the brother of Timo's wife. (An afterword expla ...more
Sep 21, 2009 Tyler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Tyler by: Goodreads Reviews
Although this story, in the form of a diary, counts as historical fiction, it is grounded in fact. Jaan Kross constructed the novel according to actual records of events in a family of Estonian nobility. The brother-in-law of the main character records the consequences of dissent in Imperial Russia in an account stretching from 1827 to 1836.

The building up of fiction from records avoids the anachronistic injection of modern viewpoints into bygone eras. Readers get a reliable picture of the valu
Siim Schvede
Jan 15, 2013 Siim Schvede rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Raamat kujutab üht kõrgemas aukraadis olevat ohvitseri, kes julges ette võtta sammu parandamaks Vene tsaaririigi olukorda. Timotheus von Bock tahtis Venemaal panna aluse põhiseaduslikule riigikorrale. Timotheus saatis oma manifesti keisrile enne selle avaldamist Maapäeval. Ta oli varem andnud tsaarile lubaduse talle alati tõtt rääkida ning ta kavatses seda teha ka nüüd. Tsaar ei saanud selle manifesti avaldamist aga lubada, sest tagajärjed oleks võinud keisrile endale saatuslikuks saada. Timothe ...more
May 14, 2012 Riet rated it liked it
Een roman gebaseerd op een z.g. gevonden dagboek, maar wel gebaseerd op een flink aantal historische feiten. Geschreven door een Est enhet sppeelt ookin Estland in de tijd, dat het door Rusland overheerst werd. Een Estse baron wordt verliefd op een boerendochter (dus eigenlijk de dochter van een slaaf in die tijd), laat haar samen met haar broer een opvoeding geven en trouwt dan met haar. Hij heeft nog wel meer verlichte ideeen en schrijft die op voor de tsaar. Die laat hem voor gek verklaren en ...more
Nov 30, 2014 Rosebud rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rosebud by: International Book Club
This is the second book I've read for my international book club and I really enjoyed it. It is classified as an historical novel, but most of the characters were real and most of the events were verified by the author. I learned a lot about the time period of Czars Alexander and Nicholas I and admit I knew little to nothing before reading this book. It was a good story and easy to read. It was a poignant story about class, love, family relationships, and loyalty. Excellent book, and I'd like to ...more
Apr 02, 2013 k rated it it was ok
Some good premises - the tag-along semi-resentful brother, the "sane" man in a mad house element - but didn't come together. The latter premise was especially poorly fleshed out; you never got the sense that Timo was under any grave threat or pressure until the slightly too-sudden end. I couldn't tell how much of this book was laughing a little at historical fiction, or maybe how much of it was veiled Soviet satire, or even maybe how much it was more of an investigation into the nature of the li ...more
Novel set in Estonia in the early years of the 19th century. The narrator is a young man from the peasantry whose sister the local nobleman married. The nobleman has been banished to his estates by the Tsar, officially on account of his insanity. This insanity manifesting itself in his views on the social order.

Interesting novel, didn't have the same impact on me as the same author's Professor Marten's Departure.

There's a sense that the nobleman has viewed his wife and her brother as specimens
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Feb 11, 2016 Mari-Liis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eesti, koolis
Mis sa kostad, lugemine võttis kaua aega, aga no igati väärt raamat.
Leen Tool
Aug 12, 2015 Leen Tool rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Võimatu käest panna, kui kord juba alustanud oled.
This is a fictionalized account of nobleman’s imprisonment under Czar Alexander I, due to an honest criticism of the regime. Unfortunately, either the translation is just plain terrible, or the story itself is lacking. At halfway through the book, I decided to abandon it. Life it too short and there are too many good books out there to continue with tedium.
Collin Rogowski
Nov 27, 2010 Collin Rogowski rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ganz amüsanter, historische Roman über die Zarenzeit in Russland. Ich bin nicht so wirklich reingekommen, da mir zum einen das nötige Hintergrundwissen fehlt und zum anderen nur ein Teil der (Zarenreich-)Geschichte die beleuchtet wird, der auch noch sehr speziell ist (das Verhältnis einer deutsch-baltischen Familie zu Alexander I.)
Kevin Axe
Dec 28, 2014 Kevin Axe rated it did not like it
I am probably losing a lot of Estonian street cred by admitting that I only got halfway through this book before I abandoned it, as much as I liked the frequent mentions of the University of Tartu (although the book never left the estate it started at, at least before I put the book down). Does Kross have anything better?
Oct 01, 2015 Sowmya rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Not exactly "gripping" or "interesting" as a whole. But, I liked in bits and pieces. Since I came here from "Professor Marten's Departure", comparatively, I like that one better in terms of richness of the narrative.
Mar 21, 2013 Joni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I find truly astonishing in this book, which tells a story of a political dissident who was put to prison and labeled as madman for his beliefs, is that it was actually written and published in Soviet Union!
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Estonia's best-known and most translated writer is Jaan Kross. He has been tipped for the Nobel Prize for Literature on several occasions for his novels, but did in fact start his literary career as a poet and translator of poetry. On his return from the labour camps and internal exile in Russia, where he spent the years 1946-1954 as a political prisoner, Kross renewed Estonian poetry, giving it n ...more
More about Jaan Kross...

Other Books in the Series

Jaan Krossi kogutud teosed (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • Kolme katku vahel, I-II (Balthasar Russowi romaan, #1-2) (Jaan Krossi kogutud teosed, #1)
  • Kolme katku vahel III (Balthasar Russowi romaan, #3)
  • Kolme katku vahel IV (Balthasar Russowi romaan, #4)
  • Taevakivi. Kolmandad mäed. Kahe kaotsiläinud paberi lugu. Pöördtoolitund. (Jaan Krossi kogutud teosed, #4)
  • Rakvere romaan
  • Professor Martens' Departure
  • Vastutuulelaev: Bernhard Schmidti romaan
  • Wikmani poisid (Jaan Krossi kogutud teosed, #9)
  • Väljakaevamised
  • Tabamatus

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