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MOSCOW, Russia (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Researchers at Lomonosov Moscow State University reported Thursday the discovery of what they believed to be the notes for a lost Tolstoy novel, but admitted Friday that their celebrations were premature. Sergey Vissarionovich Vasiliev, the project’s leader, said a tourist from Crimea had purchased the two items at a used bookstore in Podolsk, a town in Moscow Oblast. She handed the documents over to the university for analysis days later, sensing they might be early drafts of a novel in progress by Tolstoy. Vasiliev said: “She seemed to be on to something. The manuscripts provided exquisitely tedious details of complex lineages, with an incomprehensible wealth of genealogical data that far surpassed the family histories [Tolstoy] created for ‘Anna Karenina.’ The intricate and sometimes onerous preponderance of historical data was presented with the stoicism one often sees in Russian literature, lending itself to our unique sense of existential dread and love of long, boring lists that span hundreds of pages. In our excitement, we failed to dissect the materials as diligently as we should have. As a result, we issued a false report.”
Vasiliev’s team apologized to the literary community after confessing that the two manuscripts turned out to be an old Saint Petersburg phone directory and a copy of the 1959 Soviet census.