Critical Insights: Leo Tolstoy
A great starting point for students seeking an introduction to Leo Tolstoy and the critical discussions surrounding his work.
In line with the goals of the Critical Insights series, this volume will provide an introduction to Tolstoy’s life and work intended for a nonspecialist audience. The present volume contains a variety of material on Tolstoy’s life, on his major works, themes, and philosophical inspirations, as well as on his own influence on all types of literature and philosophy all around the world. The tone of the volume is scholarly, but each chapter is written to be accessible to those readers who are new to Tolstoy, who may have read Anna Karenina or War and Peace, or who may have little familiarity with his work. Through chapters that demonstrate traditional research avenues while also entertaining emerging areas of inquiry we aim to provide an overview of how Western, as well as Russian, scholars approach the study of Tolstoy. The volume’s contributors are largely faculty at postsecondary institutions with specializations in literature or history who regularly teach courses in Russian literature or work on scholarship in Russian or comparative literature. Two contributions are from outside of the United States, from Serbia and Israel respectively. Several of the contributors from the United States are originally from Russia or Eastern Europe. The diverse perspectives that these contributors bring to the volume invite the reader to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. The front matter and the back matter of the volume are designed to assist those interested in Tolstoy’s work to continue their explorations beyond this volume. The bibliography contains a list of canonical works in English about Tolstoy.
Key terms from each chapter are indexed in the back matter as well. The introduction of the volume, written by Rachel Stauffer, the volume editor, provides an overview of the artistic and critical contexts of Tolstoy’s emergence onto the literary scene in Russia in the mid-nineteenth century. The introduction serves as a guide to Tolstoy’s literary predecessors and his contemporaries so that the reader may more fully understand why Tolstoy was so extraordinary, particularly as a Russian author.
Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:
- A chronology of the author's life
- A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
- A general bibliography
- A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
- Notes on the individual chapter authors
- A subject index