Tolstoy: The Comprehensive Vision
Tolstoy was as much a philosopher as a novelist. From the entries in his early diaries through to the great novels he was constantly searching for a comprehensive vision, equal to ‘the confusion of life’. It was in his personal diaries that Tolstoy first attempted a ‘literary psychology’ to reveal those thoughts and feelings we conceal from ourselves, then inventing the interior monologue to expose the psychology of his characters.
Emphasising the importance of these early characteristics for Tolstoy’s development as a writer, this volume, published first in 1975, assesses Tolstoy’s character-portraits in the light of his engagement with the question of the nature of happiness and the problem of historical truth in fiction. Greenwood also considers Tolstoy’s views on society and education, his understanding of the psychology of war, and in the later chapters critically examines his answers to the religious questions that increasingly preoccupied him as he matured.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. The Green Stick and the Secret of Happiness 2. Tolstoy’s Early Diaries and his Mastery of ‘Literary Psychology’ 3. Childhood, Boyhood and Youth 4. The Physiognomy of War: The Raid, The Wood-Felling and the Sevastopol Sketches 5. New Paths: The Portrayal of Peasant Life; ‘A Land-lord’s Morning, ‘Polikushka’ 6. The Cossacks, Strider: the Story of a Horse and Family Happiness 7. The Struggle Against the West: Lucerne 8. Tolstoy and Historicism 9. The Problem of Truth in War and Peace 10. What is War and Peace? 11. The Comprehensive Vision 12. Tragedy, Contingency and the Meaning of Life in Anna Karenina 13. Death, A Confession and Ivan Ilych 14. Tolstoy, the Gospels and Jesus: Christian Ethics and Hadji Murad 15. Tolstoy the Ascetic? The Kreutzer Sonata, Father Sergius and Resurrection 16. The Prodigal as Prophet