Tolstoy and the Genesis of "War and Peace"

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"The best thing ever done on how Tolstoy wrote War and Peace. Feuer shows us an incredible complexity in terms of the creative process. You see the seams and joints in the novel."—Gary Saul Morson, Northwestern University"In 1963, Kathryn B. Feuer had access to the manuscripts of the drafts for the novel, almost 4,000 pages. At Tolstoy's home, she concentrated on a dozen books that related to his earlier conceptions of War and Peace. She was indefatigable, with every detail at her fingertips, and she could express fine perceptions with something of the lucidity and measure of her admired Jane Austen. . . . Her daughter and Donna Tussing Orwin completed their task of editing in such a way that the book everywhere shows that concern with thoroughly tested evidence that above all makes it a landmark in Tolstoy studies."—Times Literary Supplement"The effectiveness of Feuer's account of the creation of War and Peace results from her remarkably cogent and uncluttered reading of the drafts and revisions that inform the description of Tolstoy's creative process. Tolstoy and the Genesis of 'War and Peace' is destined to remain a classic on the subject."—Slavic Review"Young novelists who listen to their creative writing teachers would be better served reading Feuer's brilliant study of the creation of War and Peace."—Common KnowledgeKathryn B. Feuer offers remarkable insights into Leo Tolstoy's creative process while he wrote War and Peace. She follows the novel through countless drafts and notes, illuminating its connection to earlier, unpublished, novels and to crucial new sources, both European and Russian. A novelist herself, Feuer explores the problems of character development, narrative voice, genre, and structure that Tolstoy ultimately resolved so brilliantly.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In 1963, Feuer, who died in 1992, was one of a handful of American scholars permitted for extended periods in the Soviet Union on cultural exchange. In this scholarly work (originally her 1965 doctoral dissertation), published posthumously by her daughter Robin Feuer Miller (who accompanied her mother to the Soviet Union as a child), Feuer explains how Tolstoy, inspired by Decembrist events in Russia in 1856, intended War and Peace to be but the first volume of a Decembrist trilogy. Feuer also maps out differences among the numerous drafts of the novel as well as the many evolutions of the characters. Because she based her research on Tolstoy's own rough drafts of War and Peace, her work covers new ground. Feuer's study makes a good companion to a new, abridged edition of Tolstoy's diaries, compiled by Christian (Russian, St. Andrew's Univ.). The diaries date from 1847 to 1910, the year of Tolstoy's ignoble death in an obscure train station. At the end of his life in particular, Tolstoy the diarist unflinchingly reveals his unique personalityat once generous and avuncular and tyrannical and intolerant. His tumultuous 48-year marriage to Sofya Behrs unfolds painfully in the diaries; in this relationship in particular kernels of themes explored in his novels emerge. Christian has divided the diaries into six sections, each covering approximately ten years and containing a brief yet extremely informative introduction. Tolstoy did not keep orderly diaries, often scribbling on whatever was available, and the endnotes provide much useful detail about sources. Both works offer first-rate scholarship and deserve to be added to Russian literature collections.Diane G. Premo, SILS, SUNY at Buffalo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801419027
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Lexile: 1570L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Donna Tussing Orwin is Professor of Russian Literature and Chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Consequences of Consciousness: Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and Tolstoy's Art and Thought, 1847–1880.

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Table of Contents

Editors' Preface
Introduction 1
1 Tolstoy's Early Works: The Literary Matrix of War and Peace 13
2 Predecessors of War and Peace: "The Distant Field" and The Decembrists 32
3 The Novel of 1812 54
4 The Transition to 1805 73
5 The Opening Pages of War and Peace 88
6 The Transition from the Early Manuscripts to Book I, Part 1 109
7 Tolstoy's Rejection of the Spirit of 1856 135
8 Napoleonism, Decembrism, and the Spirit of 1856 168
9 Ideological Influences on the Genesis of War and Peace 180
10 Napoleon as a Symbol of Revolution in the Political Conception of War and Peace 194
Conclusion 207
Note on Critical Backgrounds 213
Notes 219
Bibliography 279
Other Works by Kathryn B. Feuer 285
Index 287
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