Creating and Recovering Experience: Repetition in Tolstoy

By Natasha Sankovitch | Go to book overview
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4. Intertextual Repetition in Tolstoy

She was a music I no longer heard, that rang in my mind, itself and nothing else, lost to all sense, but not perished, not perished.

-- Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping

Up to this point my concern has been intratextual repetition in Tolstoy. But readers more familiar with Tolstoy know the extent to which intertextual repetitions--repeated themes, motifs, structural patterns, even characters--occur in his work as well. All writers will repeat certain devices and techniques throughout their career; people cannot recreate their whole personality or all their techniques with each work. So any writer will have certain characteristics, certain habits, certain particular and identifiable idiosyncrasies. Then there are writers--Tolstoy, Trollope, Zola among them--whose works not only contain these inevitable repetitions, but also reflect a deliberate, intentional reliance on the device of repetition to achieve certain ends.1 In either case, repetitions in an author's oeuvre may be a key to his/her habits--stylistic habits and habits of thought--and this is true of Tolstoy.

Certain of Tolstoy's "habits" reflect his preoccupation with

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1
On repetition in Zola see Brown, Repetition in Zola's Novels. And on repetition in Trollope see Epperly, Patterns of Repetition in Trollope.

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