Unifying the Christian Ontology of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky

Published: May 22, 2006

Comparative criticism of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky is a continuous dialog that has been, and continues to be, a useful means for understanding the work of both authors. The reasons for frequent comparison are numerous, but perhaps the most important factor is that these two authors present the unique condition of offering the perspectives of two monumental authors who share a physical proximity, both geographically and temporally.

The widespread conclusion from these various critiques is that Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are almost diametrically opposed. This conclusion is made from many different modes of analysis including, but not limited to, structural,[1] linguistic,[2] and philosophical.[3] George Steiner, in his book, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, makes this broad claim concerning the authors’ differences:

The choice between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky foreshadows what existentialists would call unengagement; it commits the imagination to one or the other of two radically opposed interpretations of man’s fate, of the historical future, and of the mystery of God. . . . This confrontation touches on some of the prevailing dualities in western thought as they reach back to the Platonic dialogues.[4]

This representative quotation shows the divide between considerations of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in contemporary criticism. Interestingly enough, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky seem to have seen little ground for a comparison between them and even, some claim, had little respect for the artistic ability of the other author.[5]

The basic source that all divergences between these two authors spring from lies in each author’s epistemology. Tolstoy is an obsessively rational author. His life and art are consumed with finding a rational answer to questions about death, sexuality, and a myriad of social issues. Dostoevsky, on the other hand, holds little value in rationality, finding it utterly unable to answer the paradoxes of life, as he continuously points out in his formulations of theodicy. This difference can be seen when both men consider what function religion serves. Late in life, Tolstoy discusses this in The Kingdom of God is Within You. He says,

The essence of every religious teaching lies not in the desire for a symbolic expression of the forces of nature, nor in the dread of these forces, nor in the craving for the marvelous, nor in the external forms in which it is manifested, as men of science imagine; the essence of religion lies in the faculty of men foreseeing and pointing out the path of life along which humanity must move in the discovery of a new theory of life, as a result of which the whole future conduct of humanity is changed and different from all that has been before.[6]

He holds a complete trust that “the faculty of men” alone can lead us down the proper path of humanity, a conclusion that Dostoevsky finds laughable. It is worth pointing out how similar this discussion of the religious needs of men echoes Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, who claims to Christ, “there are three powers, three powers alone, able to conquer and to hold captive forever the conscience of these impotent rebels for their happiness–those forces are miracle, mystery and authority.”[7] If it is true, as many have claimed,[8] that the Grand Inquisitor really does speak for Dostoevsky on the needs of man, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky really do stand on opposite ends of the spectrum when discussing the ability of man’s reason to make sense of the world.

In the end, though, what is interesting for the purposes of this essay is not how different these authors are, but instead how, in one principal aspect, these authors’ beliefs can be reconciled to form a coherent belief system. The question at hand is not whether Tolstoy and Dostoevsky’s writings agree with each other without disparity; for they certainly do not. It is the purpose of this essay, rather, to show how each author has some religious tenets that can be supported by the other’s, while neither writer has a coherent belief system that stands on its own. To this end, this essay will consider the religious beliefs of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in their magnum operaWar and Peace, and The Brothers Karamazov. It will discuss how Tolstoy’s Christian philosophy of daily living is admirable but cannot be supported by his reason-based religion. Dostoevsky’s faith-based religion, on the other hand, is more theologically based in Christianity but the conclusions he draws from this faith and applies to everyday life, both in his fiction and his actual life, are suspect at best. The goal is not to try to unify these thinkers for unity’s sake; rather, this essay seeks to recognize how the beliefs of two great artists can be combined to form a proper orientation to the world, something both men desperately strove for in their fictional worlds and in their lives.

One hurdle that makes this project difficult is the inability to set in stone what neither author actually held to in their own practices of faith. The fact is that both men’s beliefs were extremely dynamic, changing quite drastically over the course of their intellectual lives. While The Brothers Karamazov can be seen as exemplary of Dostoevsky’s beliefs, making such a claim with any of Tolstoy’s novels is treacherous footing. While Tolstoy’s affirmation of the physical, rural life epitomized by the Russian peasant life and examined in War and Peace in this essay is a constant throughout his artistic life until his death, the matter of reason versus faith fluctuates greatly in his work. Similarly, The Brothers Karamazov can certainly be seen as the culmination of Dostoevsky’s belief, but it is impossible to make this claim for War and Peace. The reason this essay chooses War and Peace is that in this specific novel we can clearly see those aspects of Tolstoy’s belief that can be compared with Dostoevsky’s. There is also enough of Tolstoy’s struggle with rationalism apparent within the novel to discuss that as well, although the mode of observation that is most conducive to understanding the impact of Tolstoy’s rationalism is a biographical one, tracing his battle with reason in religion throughout both his work and his life.


I. Tolstoy’s Resolution in War and Peace

In War and Peace, Tolstoy’s critique of the Russian bourgeois life is evident from the opening pages when we first see the soirée at Anna Pavlovna’s house.[9] He continues to make the novel an exposé of the hypocrisy and vanity of upper-crust life in Russia, and throughout the novel we see in many of the characters a progression away from fulfilling societal expectations placed on the nobility. This development is a movement towards two distinct but related values that, when successfully combined, lead to a fulfilled life for Tolstoy. These ideals are simply appreciating being* and understanding the importance of place.

These ideas and their progression in the novel are seen most clearly in the three focal masculine characters, Andrew, Pierre, and Nicholas Rostov.  There is an interesting balance between these characters that relates to these two values in the novel.  A respect for being is passionately pursued and gained by Andrew, while Rostov already seems to possess this understanding in his life.  Conversely, Rostov lacks the foundation of the concept of place at first and by the end is consumed with the importance of place in his life, while from the very beginning stages of the novel, Andrew seems aware of the necessity for some sort of grounding in place.  Meanwhile, Pierre is completely rootless, lacking both an understanding of being and place, and in the end, winds up with a balanced satisfaction of both values.


II. Tolstoy’s Ontology

For Tolstoy, respecting life is a deep, sincere perception of the importance of being in its most dynamic sense. It is the almost Heideggerian comprehension of being we see Andrew latch onto at varying levels in his epiphanic moments. In fact, the correlations between Heidegger’s deconstruction of ontology and Andrew’s progressive understanding of life run deep, as seen by the first step that both Heidegger and Andrew take in their recovery of being. Heidegger makes the first step of pointing out the temporality of being that society has tried to subvert through structures. He states,

The meaning of the Being of that being we call Dasein proves to be temporality[Zeitlichkeit]. . . . While it is true that with this interpretation of Dasein as temporality, the answer to the guiding question about the meaning of Being in general is not given as such, the soil from which we may reap it will nevertheless be prepared.[10]

This first step, i.e., recognizing the temporality of being, is exactly what happens to Andrew in his first epiphany at the Battle of Austerlitz when he muses,

how differently do those clouds glide across that lofty infinite sky! How was it I did not see that lofty sky before? And how happy I am to have found it at last! Yes! All is vanity, falsehood, except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing, but that. But even it does not exist, there is nothing but quiet and peace. Thank God! . . .[11]

In this moment, Andrew first realizes the folly of simply presupposing being. He see the clouds passing, appearing before his eyes and then vanishing. He sees them as fleeting and is immediately overwhelmed with happiness for the clouds’ place of existence, the sky, which correspondently points to his happiness at the recognition of his temporal being in the larger realm of existence.

As the novel continues, Bolkonski has two more experiences that bring his understanding of life to complete fruition. The second epiphany is again brought on by observing nature, this time the old oak tree he notices in his travels. When he first notices it, the tree is bare, seemingly lifeless. When he comes through the forest later that spring, he marvels that,

The old oak, quite transfigured, spreading out a canopy of sappy dark-green foliage, stood rapt and slightly trembling in the rays of the evening sun. . . . “Yes, it is the same oak,” thought Prince Andrew, and all at once he was seized by an unreasonable springtime feeling of joy and renewal. . . . No, life is not over at thirty-one! . . . It is not enough for me to know what I have in me–everyone must know it: . . . everyone must know me, so that my life may not be lived for myself while others live so apart from it, but so that it may be reflected in them all, and they and I may live in harmony!”[12]

This holistic appreciation of the beauty of a shared existence, combined with the comprehension of being’s temporality is what we see in Bolkonski’s final enlightened testimony after he is wounded in the Battle of Borodino. After his final passionate conversation with Natasha, Andrew reverts back to musing over life and death when he suddenly thinks,

Love? What is love? . . . Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.[13]

In this final understanding, combined with his later understanding of death, Andrew reaches a level of awareness about the nature of being that goes beyond anything anyone else in the novel expresses. As if to prove this point, Tolstoy allows Andrew the privilege of proving the temporality of being through his death.**

Nicholas does not seem to face any fundamental dilemma with the nature of being. Throughout the novel, the only thing that shakes his love and passion for life and mankind are the evils of war. It seems to be a Rostov characteristic to be passionately involved with life, seen in both Nicholas and Natasha alike throughout the novel, especially for Nicholas during the wolf hunt, and for Natasha during the dance after the hunt, when the narrator asks,

Where, how, and when had this young countess . . .imbibed from the Russian air she breathed that spirit and obtained that manner which the pas de châle would, one would have supposed, long ago have effaced? . . . She did the right thing with such precision, such complete precision, that Anisya Fedorovna . . . had tears in her eyes, though she laughed as she watched this slim, graceful countess, reared in silks and velvets and so different from herself, who yet was able to understand all that was in Anisya and in Anisya’s father and mother and aunt, in every Russian man and woman.[14]

In Natasha, we see exactly what Andrew means when he wishes that, “they and I may live in harmony!”[15] At the end of the novel, the Rostov passion for life curiously becomes a more subdued, passive participation with life, especially in Natasha, pictured in the first epilogue thus:

Her features were more defined and had a calm, soft, and serene expression. In her face there was none of the ever-glowing animation that had formerly burned there and constituted its charm. Now her face and body were often all that one saw, and her soul was not visible at all. All that struck the eye was a strong, handsome, and fertile woman. The old fire very rarely kindled in her face now.[16]

This change is not portrayed pejoratively. Instead, it is meant to show the slow maturation of the one character who really possesses something of an understanding of both life and place from the very beginning of the novel, and who, in many ways, is really representative of both the life and the place of Pierre, which will be discussed later.


III. The Real Life in War and Peace

Critics have always recognized the importance of the rural-urban dichotomy in Tolstoy’s novels from Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, to War and Peace, and Anna Karenina. Steiner succinctly summarizes exactly how this paradigm works for Tolstoy:

Tolstoy saw experience morally and aesthetically divided. There is the life of the city with its social injustices, its artificial sexual conventions, its cruel display of wealth, and its power to alienate man from the essential patterns of physical vitality. On the other hand, there is life in the fields and forests with its alliance of mind and body, its acceptance of sexuality as hallowed and creative, and its instinct for the chain of being . . .[17]

This is seen not just in the fiction of Tolstoy, but also in his life. Tolstoy thrived in his estate at Yasnaya Polyana, working in the fields alongside the peasants. A friend who had watched him plowing a widow’s fields noted how Tolstoy felt after a backbreaking day of toil, noting,

Lev Nikolayevich was in the happiest frame of mind and his voice welled over with heartfelt compassion, without a touch of sentimentality. “I am amazed,” he said, “how it is that people deprive themselves of the most blissful state, the happiest hours in life–the hours of toil in the field. The consciousness of having undoubtedly been of use, a sweet feeling of exhaustion, a superlative appetite and a sound sleep–these are the reward of the workers of the field.” . . . He spoke of many interesting things: of the emptiness and pettiness of man in the city, of the city’s empty, false bustle and of city dwellers’ extreme moral physical impotence and depravity.[18]

Tolstoy explicated this concept in philosophical terms in Confessions, claiming that,

what truly saved me . . . was that I managed to break free from my own exclusive circle, to see the life of the simple working people, and to understand that this alone can be called real life. I understood that, if I am to understand life and its meaning, I must live a real life rather than that of a parasite. I understood that I must accept the meaning given to life by real humanity, merge with this life, and so verify its meaning.[19]

In this quotation, the inextricability of the concepts of recognizing being and living what Tolstoy terms the “real life” is made manifest.

We see the beautiful act of realizing—in the fullest possible way—the importance of being in Andrew, but we get the most complete and fulfilling realization of the real life in Nicholas. For Tolstoy, the equation is simple: the peasant life equals real life. Nicholas himself comes to this conclusion in the first epilogue when he becomes devoted to farming. He quickly notices the peasants and takes on their simple yet passionate method of farming. The narrator says that “he loved ‘our Russian peasants’ and their way of life with his whole soul, and for that very reason had understood and assimilated the one way and manner of farming which produced good results.”[20] This, of course, more than hints at Tolstoy’s own life and respect for the peasants of Yasnaya Polanya. In the end, it is enough to say that, for Tolstoy, one cannot be properly oriented towards life and God without practicing a simple participation with life itself through physical, vital, and respectful activity with the earth.


IV. The Complete Man

There are two characters in the novel that serve as personifications, one personifying the respect for being, the other, a participation with place, or the good life. An essay that is especially useful in considering these characters is, “Russianness, Femininity, and Romantic Aesthetics in War and Peace,” by Laura Olson. Olson discusses how both characters serve as Tolstoyan models of living. She argues throughout the essay that their femininity and ties with the folk life serve as indicators of their moral and aesthetic value. [21]

Platon Karataev is one of the key feminine figures in Olson’s understanding of the novel. She argues that Karataev’s feminine voice, continual references to his roundness, as well as the similarity of the mythologizing of the peasant and the feminine, all serve as indicators of his feminine nature.[22] The importance of this characterization lies in the centrality of Karataev’s status as model for Pierre. Olson notes,

Karataev’s mythic femininity . . . plays an important role in War and Peace because it is connected with an ideal of how to live one’s life. The narrator’s commentary makes clear that Karataev is to be held up as an example for Pierre . . . The ideal rejects the self-conscious, isolated self (represented in the novel by Pierre) as the center of all knowledge and morality. Instead, it posits a self founded on the basis of connection and community (Karataev). In this sense the portrayal of Karataev offers a critique of the Western individualized view of the self.[23]

This description of the ideal depicted in Karataev is exactly that ideal realized by Andrew’s desire for a harmonious existence, and it is Karataev who imparts this quality to Pierre. In a more rapid transformation, Pierre makes the same process of realization seen in Andrew, with his first breakthrough coming when he gazes at the sky,[24] reminiscent of Andrew’s epiphany. Finally, after Karataev’s death, “he had learned to see the great, eternal, and infinite in everything, and therefore—to see it and enjoy its contemplation—he naturally threw away the telescope through which he had till now gazed over men’s heads, and gladly regarded the ever-changing, eternally great, unfathomable, and infinite life around him.”[25] This is the process through which Pierre is imbued with an understanding of being in its most dynamic sense.

The second character used as a vehicle for Pierre’s maturation is Natasha. While she is also a dynamic character, she is representative of a higher value, i.e., the real life.[26] While in the end of the novel Pierre has no obvious affinity for a place or for simple participation like Nicholas, he has still discovered the real life in his spouse. As a figure of Russianness, comporting oneself to Natasha is the equivalent of Nicholas’ orientation to the peasant. Pierre makes this valuation, as noted by the narrator:

Pierre had the joyous and firm consciousness that he was not a bad man, and he felt this because he saw himself reflected in his wife. He felt the good and bad within himself inextricably mingled and overlapping. But only what was really good in him was reflected in his wife, all that was not quite good was rejected.[27]

In this final step, we see the completion of the most deficient character in Tolstoy’s quadrant of protagonists, from Natasha, who has some sort of innate sense of both the importance of being and an embodiment of the real, to Andrew and Nicholas who each seek to gain one of the intertwined values, and finally, Pierre, who lacks both of the Tolstoyan ideals in the beginning but ends with a holistic conception of life along with the others.


V. The Problem of Change in War and Peace

There is a narrator’s comment that is seen with remarkable frequency in the moments of realized change by these main characters that qualifies the epiphanic moments. After one of these incidences, for example, the narrator notes that, “this was not the result of logical reasoning but was a direct and mysterious reflection.”[28] This becomes almost a mantra explaining the thought process surrounding these dramatic realizations. It raises a question that needs to be asked of the otherwise omniscient narrator, and, consequently, Tolstoy: Is this statement vague because there is no way to explain these changes, or are they purposely inserted to try and cover over a problem in the causality of these actions? In other words, is the mysticism inherent in these conversions, i.e., Andrew’s dreams and visions or Pierre’s conversion via Platon Karataev, Tolstoy’s real understanding of conversion, or is it some deus ex machina in an otherwise Realist novel because of Tolstoy’s inability to recognize the roots of renewal? The problem for Tolstoy lies in the fact that it is not the “the faculty of men foreseeing and pointing out the path of life”[29] that is leading to renewal, but is instead some sort of heightened awareness, namely, faith. Indeed, it is at this point that some of the threads come unraveled, for Tolstoy is unable to provide a feasible vehicle for change. There is a tacit recognition on his part that reason cannot provide man with the precursory understanding necessary for a comprehension of his life values, as he admitted in the story of his own transformation.[30] This is where Dostoevsky fits.


VI. Faith and Love as the Catalyst for Renewal in The Brothers Karamazov

In The Brothers Karamazov, there are four major salvatory transitions described. First there is Markel’s pre-death salvation, followed by Zosima’s conversion, Alyosha’s euphoric moment of enlightenment, and finally Dmitri’s awakening. There are notable similarities between the conversions of these men in The Brothers Karamazov and those in War and Peace. For example, Alyosha’s conversion scene contains many of the same ethereal connections with

the sky as Andrew’s and Pierre’s.[31] More importantly, the regenerations seen in The Brothers Karamazov are non-rational, just as in War and Peace. But what is different in Dostoevsky’s work is that we see what really brings the characters to this point.

In each conversion, there is a harsh realization of the corruptness of the world; for Markel it is his own sickness, for Zosima it is his cruelty to Afanasy, for Alyosha it is the corruption of Zosima’s body, and Dmitri’s vision of the ragged peasants brings him to tears. Confronting the evil in the world, each character makes a conscious leap of faith to accept God without being able to comprehend life. Their salvation is a release. The character stops trying to make sense of how life works, and as a result, realizes something much more important about life, i.e., the harmony of being. This harmony is brought about by the active love that Zosima calls for. He says, “insofar as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul.”[32] This active love is the only way to combat the senseless suffering on earth, and yet, this active love can only be had with a precursory faith that accepts both God and suffering. This is why Ivan notes that man will not even acknowledge another man’s suffering.[33] To acknowledge suffering is to be forced into a conscious acceptance or denial of the nature of God. In this novel, the acceptance can only be made through faith; there is no way to rationalize the suffering of the child in the well or the starving peasant baby. Active love is also the response to the Grand Inquisitor. What is sometimes forgotten is that the Grand Inquisitor is motivated by love. He claims that he is enforcing his societal construction, “for the happiness of the humble.”[34] This is that abstract notion of love that everyone from Madame Khokhlakov to Ivan is able to practice. Jesus, however, practices active love before he even hears the Grand Inquisitor’s arguments. When he first enters the scene, he practices miraculous acts, acts of love.[35]

The final rebuff to the Grand Inquisitor’s arguments is the propagation of active love seen throughout the novel. Dostoevsky continuously uses death to show how this faith can continue to impact others. This theme is obviously important, considering his use of this Scripture verse to contextualize the whole novel: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”[36] The impact of Markel’s death stretches through the whole novel, and without it, there would be no characters of faith and love. There is nothing that shows that any of these characters are exceptional, yet they do not possess the traits of the masses that the Grand Inquisitor holds as the basic tenets for his project. A simple faith is all that is needed to transcend these characteristics of humanity, and to embrace human freedom.

VII. The Problem of Application in The Brothers Karamazov

While Zosima is the focal presence for the positive exemplar of faith in the novel, he is also the center of a sort of spirituality that has problematic consequences when considered in light of Christianity. Roger Anderson notes that,

Zosima has a radical and qualitatively different kind of consciousness which directly perceives the secrets of cosmic unity. He preaches an undifferentiated unity that extends laterally without exception, connecting each individual to all other manifestations of existence. Included here are not only all other people, but vegetable life and inanimate objects (rocks and soil) as well. The union also extends vertically to join all forms of existence to God.[37]

Anderson bolsters this argument by pointing to where Zosima preaches, “all is like an ocean, all is flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth. . .  Then you would pray to the birds too, consumed by an all-embracing love, in a sort of transport, and pray that they will forgive you your sin.”[38] While it is too simple to condemn this as a simple call for animism by Dostoevsky, his conception of the harmony of being does, nonetheless, contradict a fundamental tenet of Christianity, i.e., the transcendence and sole deity of God. In the end, Dostoevsky’s conception of being, that stands without any qualification, cannot be aligned with a strictly Biblical understanding of man’s place on earth.


VIII. Synchronizing Tolstoy and Dostoevsky

In the end, it is fair to say that both authors have created systems of belief that are far more complex and intricate than the nature of this essay allows for. It is also fair to point out that each belief system is problematic when considered in the light of the Bible. Perhaps this is not taking the authors on their own terms, and this essay should not be taken as a disparagement of the novels in question.*** Dostoevsky’s depiction of the necessity of faith as the basis of a salvatory conversion in a non-rational world is potent, and Dostoevsky points out the futility of basing one’s deepest convictions on anything else, especially reason. War and Peace, on the other hand, is devastating to today’s popular dualist conception of being that precludes the importance of man’s physical relation and participation with life; for Tolstoy, Christianity inherently advocates concrete participation with life. To this end, his converted characters set about to understand the interaction Christianity requires of its followers. Combining the faith of Dostoevsky with Tolstoy’s orientation to life melds two great depictions of humanness into one.



*Because of the limits of the English language, the term “being,” when referring to the philosophical notion of understanding man’s existence, will be italicized throughout this essay to avoid any confusion with other possible uses of the term to denote simple existence.

** The only two central characters of the younger generation that die in the novel are Andrew and Karataev, pointing to their fundamental harmony and peace with being.

*** Both authors seemed to have no qualms about altering Christian doctrine to fit their beliefs, especially Tolstoy, who translated and edited his own New Testament, anathematizing all of Christ’s miracles and anything else that did not fit his conception of Christianity.

[1] Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984). [2] James M. Curtis, “Metaphor is to Dostoevskii as Metonymy is to Tolstoi,” Slavic Review, Vol. 61, 1, (Spring 2002, 109-27. [3] Lev Shestov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Nietzsche, trans. Bernard Martin and Spencer Roberts, (Akron: Ohio University Press, 1969). [4] George Steiner, Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1959), 11. [5] C. P. Snow, The Realists, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1978) 178. Snow makes the following claim:It is permissible to argue, and many of us have done it, whether War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov is the ultimate height of all novel writing. . . . Neither Tolstoy nor Dostoevsky would have considered . . . [this] comparison reasonable. Dostoevsky . . . couldn’t understand why all this fuss was made of Tolstoy. Tolstoy . . . had even less use for the one contemporary of his own stature. [6] Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You, Trans. Constance Garnett, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984) 87-8. [7] Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Trans. Constance Garnett, Ed. Ralph E. Matlaw, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1976), 236. [8] D. H. Lawrence, “The Grand Inquisitor,” Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Trans. Constance Garnett,    Ed. Ralph E. Matlaw, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1976), 829-36. See also Albert Camus, “The Rejection of Salvation,” Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Trans. Constance Garnett, Ed. Ralph E. Matlaw, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1976), 836-841. [9] Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, trans. Aylmer Maude and Louise Shanks Maude, ed. George Gibian, 2nd ed. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996), 1. [10] Martin Heidegger, “Being and Time,” Basic Writings, trans. Joan Stambaugh, and J. Glenn Gray, and David Farrell Krell, ed. David Farrell Krell (San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993), 60, italics by editor. [11] Tolstoy, War and Peace, 244. [12] Ibid., 371-2. [13] Ibid., 870. Italics added for emphasis. [14] Ibid., 454. [15] Ibid., 372. [16] Ibid., 1020. [17] Steiner, 87. [18] E. Kassin et. al., Lev Tolstoy and Yasnaya Polyana, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, n.d.), 83. [19]  Leo Tolstoy, “A Confession,” Ed. A. N. Wilson, The Lion and the Honeycomb, trans. Robert Chandler (San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1987), 23. [20] Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, 1012. [21] Laura J. Olson, “Russianness, Femininity, and Romantic Aesthetics in War and Peace,” Russian Review, Vol. 56, 4 (Oct., 1997), 515-531 [22] Ibid., 517-8. [23] Ibid., 519. [24] Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, 902. [25] Ibid., 977. [26] Olson 516; Olson notes that “She [Natasha] is a gentry child, a ‘sister,’ who becomes a ‘lover’ to several male characters. She is also a muse figure: for both the characters who love her and the narrator, she functions as a spontaneous source of aesthetic power and closeness to the folk roots of the people.” [27] Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, 1023. [28] Ibid., 1023. [29] Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is within You, 87. [30] Leo Tolstoy, “A Confession.” [31] Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Constance Garnett, ed. Ralph E. Matlaw (New York: W. W.      Norton & Company, 1976), 340-1. [32] Ibid., 48. [33] Ibid., 218. [34] Ibid., 240-1. [35] Ibid., 229-30. [36] John 12:24 [37] Roger B. Anderson, “The Mythical Implications of Father Zosima’s Religious Teachings,” Slavic Review, Vol. 38, 2 (Jun., 1979), 274. It should be noted that Anderson does not make the same point as this essay concerning the implications of Zosima’s preaching, although he does point out its disparity with most Christian theology. [38] Dostoevsky, 299.


Works Cited

Anderson, Roger B.. “The Mythical Implications of Father Zosima’s Religious Teachings,” Slavic Review. 38.2 (1979): 272-289.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Ed. And Trans. Caryl Emerson, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1984

Berry, Wendell. The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. Washington: Counterpoint, 2002.

Camus, Albert. “The Rejection of Salvation,” Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov. 836-841.

Curtis, James M.. “Metaphor is to Dostoevskii as Metonymy is to Tolstoi.” Slavic Review. 61.1 (2002): 109-127

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. Trans. Constance Garnett, Ed. Ralph E. Matlaw, New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 1976

Heidegger, Martin. “Being and Time” Basic Writings. Trans. Joan Stambaugh and J. Glenn Gray and David Farrell Krell. Ed. David Farrell Krell, San Fransisco: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.

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______. The Kingdom of God is within You. Trans. Constance Garnett. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

______. War and Peace. Trans. Aylmer Maude and Louis Shanks Maude, Ed. George Gibian. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.


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About the author

Joshua Steele

Joshua Steele is a senior majoring in English at Binghamton University. This paper was written under the tutelage of Dr. Donald J. Loewen, and is influenced by the teaching and guidance of Dr. Mark Mitchell.

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