Keywords: Leo Tolstoy, Peter I, “War and Peace”, “Anna Karenina”, Alexander Pushkin, epic, novel, poetics, psychologism.
For citation:

Gulin A. V. An unrealised epic (Leo Tolstoy busy with a novel of the days of Peter I). Two centuries of the Russian classics, 2020, vol. 2, № 3, pp. 86–117. (In Russ.) DOI

Author: Gulin A. V.
Information about the author:

Alexander V. Gulin, DSc in Philology, Leading Researcher, DSc in Philology, Chief Investigator, A. M. Gorky institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25a, 121069, Moscow, Russia

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Received: June 19, 2020
Published: September 11, 2020
Issue: 2020 Volume 2 No. 3
Department: Russian literature XVIII and XIX centuries
Pages: 86-117
UDK: 821.161.1.09"19"

Abstract: The article deals with a Russian novel of the second half of the 19th century as one of the highest forms of expression of the epic nature of national self-awareness and creative spirit, inseparable from the Orthodox ideal. The author compares an unfinished novel of the days of Peter I, on which Leo Tolstoy worked in 1872–1873 and in 1879, with the creative history of the epic novel “War and Peace”; Leo Tolstoy's search for new ways of epic reflection of reality is stated: the historical design, in fact, from the moment the material had been chosen, assumed the writer's movement towards the ultimate objectivity of the artistic picture. The application of the “sentimental” concept of the world and human to the days of Peter the Great was problematic for Leo Tolstoy’s creative work, and this concept itself had partly lost its power over the artist by the beginning of the 1870s. In the novel of the days of Peter I, there was the maximum possible removal of Leo Tolstoy from the main spiritual and poetic principles for his work. The handwritten fragments (26 in total), with which Leo Tolstoy intended to start a new novel, allow speaking of a qualitatively different character of epic creative work compared to “War and Peace”, which did not receive further implementation within the framework of the historical concept. At the same time, this work turned out to be a natural transition of the writer to the new poetics of the epic to work on a novel about contemporaneity – future “Anna Karenina”.


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