I am delighted to report that The Bloggers Karamazov, the blog of the North American Dostoevsky Society, has published my last two blog postings on the connection between the Atkinsons and the great Russian novelist. You can find the postings, together with an explanatory note, here.
I am sure that there are more connections to be unearthed – one reader has already raised the question of whether or not one of the characters in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina may have been based on Thomas Atkinson. Who knows where this will lead?
The reference to Thomas in fiction is not so strange as you may think. In 1935 the Romanian writer Mihail Sadoveanu published The Nest of Invasions, a novel based on the travels of Thomas and Lucy Atkinson. He quotes extensively from Atkinson’s book Oriental and Western Siberia and had also clearly read Lucy’s book, Recollections of Tartar Steppes. His aim was to portray nomad society in a ‘golden age’ before contact with the west. As well as a novelist, Sadoveanu was also twice president of Romania.
It should also be noted that the cover of Sadoveanu’s book is based directly on The Maral’s Leap, one of Thomas Atkinson’s woodcuts:
The American writer, naturalist and philosopher Henry Thoreau also took extensive notes from Atkinson’s book, Oriental and Western Siberia, although I have not yet been able to research this in detail. All assistance greatly appreciated.