Creating and Recovering Experience: Repetition in Tolstoy

By Natasha Sankovitch | Go to book overview

1. Repetition in Tolstoy

When one does not possess the categories of recollection or of repetition, the whole of life is resolved into a void and empty noise.

-- Kierkegaard Constantine Constantius, Repetition: An Essay in Philosophy

Endless repetition threatens sanity. -- Saul Bellow's Herzog, Herzog

Repetition occurs in both time and space and marks human experience of these categories by establishing patterns and symmetries. By nature paradoxical and ubiquitous, repetition in culture can imply sameness and difference, continuity and discontinuity, change and stasis, meaning and disruption of meaning, parts and wholes. But wherever and however it manifests itself, repetition can be both a communicative and a cognitive strategy. As such it is a key technique in belles lettres. Repetition as a literary device, that is, the intentional and purposeful use of repeated elements in narratives and descriptions, can take many different forms and serve various functions according to the author's intentions within a particular genre or tradition. All writers rely on repetition to a greater or lesser extent, because it is fundamental to the creation of similitude and therefore of meaning, especially in belles lettres.

Repetition of key elements of character, plot, and theme is certainly one of the most obvious devices in Tolstoy's prose. Critics in Tolstoy's time tended to decry his unconventional

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Creating and Recovering Experience: Repetition in Tolstoy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1. Repetition in Tolstoy 13
  • 2- the Structure of Characters' Experience 68
  • 3. Relationships Among Characters 136
  • 4- Intertextual Repetition In Tolstoy 180
  • Afterword 225
  • Reference Matter 229
  • Works Cited 231
  • Index 241
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