The Road Through a Snowstorm: "A Journey of Discovery" and Search for Sociality in Leo Tolstoy's Prose

Author: Ilya BENDERSKY

Abstract. This article analyzes Leo Tolstoy's later story Master and Man seeking to recreate the biographical, esthetic and religious-philosophical prerequisites of the creation of this masterpiece. A certain weariness of numerous isolated studies of Tolstoy's life, philosophy, political views, the language and style of his prose prompt an attempt at a more synthetic approach to an artistic text. Already his contemporaries in the 19th century had learned to separate Tolstoy the thinker and Tolstoy the artist. The modern reader too feels comfortable with this separation. However, in recent decades Tolstoy studies have been aimed at bringing out the constituting principles characterizing Tolstoy's thought as a whole. This article attempts to see an art work as a form of recording and conveying the author's experience. The experience is linked with concrete facts of the writer's biography and the preceding literary tradition. However, this study focuses on the circumstances of the transmission of the author's experience to the hero and finally to the reader. A scrutiny of these circumstances suggests a new reading of the Russian classic's creative biography from the 1850s (when he wrote his early "journeys of discovery") until 1895 (when Master and Man was published) as a story of dramatic relationships within the author-hero-reader triangle, where no experience is solely "literary" or solely "internal" as everything experienced and committed to paper becomes an object of their shared experience.

Keywords: Leo Tolstoy, realism, death, thanatology, sociality, experience, metaphor, journey of discovery, Russian literature.

DOI: 10.31857/S013454860005125-5

I. Bendersky, Cand. Sc. (Philosophy), lecturer, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Faculty of Humanities, School of Philology. E-mail: This article was first published in Russian in Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie journal (New Literary Observer. 2019, no. 155(1), pp. 62-80).

page 124

Love and snow forever.

Aleksey Khvostenko

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