Men like Rasputin appear specifically at moments of crisis and a tension immediately arises surrounding them. About him are layered a large number of the most varied myths. Some consider him a saint, others — a cunning and immoral scoundrel. It is difficult to prove or disprove anything when it comes to Rasputin.
The thing is, the extant witness accounts of him conflict in the extreme. Even descriptions of his external appearance made by people who associated with him are so contradictory that one is given to wonder. Some write that he was tall, others — not so tall. Some write that he was, for a peasant, tidy, others — that he was dirty and unkempt. A singer who saw Rasputin many times describes his rotten teeth and foul breath; whereas the writer Zhukovskaia, who knew him well, informs us that his teeth were impeccable and every one intact, while his breath was fresh. Rasputin’s secretary writes that he had a wide mouth but that some sort of black roots were visible through it. Meanwhile Sazonov, an admirer of Rasputin, describes strong white teeth.
To move on from here to personality traits is extremely difficult. The situation is complicated by Rasputin’s own lack of education. His papers are completely unintelligible; they contain no information and express only Rasputin’s interest in the matter of the petitioner at hand, although in no way clarifying the substance of the request. Just as unhelpful as sources are Rasputin’s letters and telegrams, which consist of congratulations, information about his health, and various opaque adages.
How did a semi-literate muzhik from Tobolsk land in the Imperial Court and enjoy the esteem of the Royal couple?
The problem of Rasputin is in many respects a problem of history….
Read the interesting article in full here: http://orthodoxlife.org/church-history/real-rasputin-revisionist-anashkin/