Queer Tolstoy : A Psychobiography book cover
1st Edition

Queer Tolstoy
A Psychobiography

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after February 16, 2023
ISBN 9781032342559
February 16, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
272 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Queer Tolstoy is a multidimensional work combining psychoanalysis, political history, LGBTQ+ studies, sexology, ethics, and theology to explore the life and art of Count Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy.

Using a psychobiographical framework, Sethness Castro uncovers profoundly queer dimensions in Tolstoy’s life experiences and art. Deftly contributing to the progressive and radical analysis of gender and sexuality, this book examines how Tolstoy’s erotic dissidence informed his anarchist politics, anti-militarist ideals, and voluminous literary production. Sethness Castro analyzes the influence of Buddha, Socrates, Jesus, Cervantes, Rousseau, Kant, Herzen, Proudhon, Chernyshevsky, and his mother Marya Volkonskaya on the artist's writings. Furthermore, he details Tolstoy's emblematic linking of LGBTQ+ desire with moral and erotic self-determination and resistance to Tsarist despotism—especially in War and Peace.

This book is vital reading for those interested in the intersection of literature, psychoanalysis, queer studies, and Russian history.

Table of Contents

1. Theoretical Preface on Queer Anarchism  2. Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy: A Queer, Christian-Anarchist Writer  3. The Life and Death of a "Holy Fool"  4. Humanism, Militarism, and Imperialism in The Cossacks and Hadji Murat  5. War and Peace: An Anarcho-Populist Verbal Icon  6. War and Peace, Book One: "Andrei Bolkonsky"  7. War and Peace, Book Two: "Natasha Rostova"  8. War and Peace, Book Three: "The Year 1812"  9. War and Peace, Book Four: "Pierre Bezukhov"  10. Conclusion: The Psychodynamics of Hierarchy

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Javier Sethness Castro is a primary-care provider, and the author and editor of four other volumes on a range of topics, from critical theory and social ecology to the work of Herbert Marcuse and Praxedis G. Guerrero.


'Sethness's excellent book is a wide-ranging and erudite examination of Tolstoy through the lenses of queerness and anarchism, and what is remarkable is how many contradictions and mysteries in Tolstoy’s life and work get clarified by this double focus. It is as if he had suddenly popped into three dimensions. The close reading of War and Peace is full of startling new insights, and the study as a whole brings Tolstoy into our time in a new and important way. Wonderful to see!'

Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Ministry for the Future, USA

'This passionate, ground breaking study of Tolstoy's bisexuality, politics and art offers fascinating new insights into our understanding of the Russian writer's life. By detailing Tolstoy's relationships, experiences and creative process, the author reveals Tolstoy’s far sighted literary support for what we would now call LGBT+ liberation, his resistance to war and oppression, and his support for egalitarian social change. Bravo!'

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation, UK