Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Carnell, Rachel

Subject Headings

Tolstoy, Leo, graf, 1828-1910 -- Criticism and interpretation, Russian literature, Russia -- History -- Fiction, Tolstoy, Lenin, Napoleon, Napoleonic Wars, Bolshevism, Russian authors


In this study I consider Lev Tolstoy's life and thought by reference to their national and historical context. My purposes here, of course, have to do with understanding that context as well as with understanding Tolstoy. In Chapter II, I consider and try to evoke the nineteenth-century Russian landscape to which Tolstoy was born. Also in Chapter II, I introduce, for comparative purposes, a figure from a generation of Russians later than Tolstoy's, a man very different from Tolstoy who nonetheless admired him greatly. I am referring to the man who became known as Lenin. I extend and expand the Tolstoy/Lenin comparison in Chapters III and IV, with an eye to what it might tell us about a number of things Tolstoyan. These include the fictive,historic, and theoretical subject matter of "War and Peace", the interplay and differences between Western Europe and Russia before, during,and after the Napoleonic Wars, and the question of what Tolstoy's take on those wars might tell us about Bolshevism. Throughout this study I speak of a thematic interplay between the finite and the infinite which I discern in Tolstoy's work. In Chapter V I consider, by way of a brief overview of his literary career, how Tolstoy might have embodied that interplay in his own person