Creating and Recovering Experience: Repetition in Tolstoy

By Natasha Sankovitch | Go to book overview

Afterword

It was one of those repetitions, one of those thematic "voices" with which, according to all the rules of harmony, destiny enriches the life of observant men.

-- Vladimir Nabokov, The Gift

For Tolstoy, self-knowledge and knowledge of the world are made possible by the constant dialogue of past and present, of experience and reflection upon experience, and repetition plays a critical role in sustaining this dialogue. Repetition may be regarded as an avenue to Tolstoy's values, ideals, intellectual aspirations, to essential features of his moral and aesthetic activity. It is central to his style, to his understanding of characters' psychology, to the structure of his works, and to his interactions with implied readers. It defines much of what is "Tolstoyan" about Tolstoy. In his representation of characters' psychology, Tolstoy uses repetition to explore how characters perceive their immediate experience and structure their memories. Concerned with the shaping power of time, Tolstoy describes how memories form, how they endow life with continuity, and how, in giving meaning, they themselves change over time. For Tolstoy, memory, like art, is an active process. From the perspective of readers, repetition in Tolstoy's fiction operates in a variety of ways. Perhaps most fundamentally, it serves to activate memory and mold comprehension. Because repetition works as much by marking significant differences as

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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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