Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Patricia Burak, Assistant Professor, Russian Literature
Dr. Alexander Andreyewsky, Professor Russian Language and Linguistics, SUNY Albany
Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
Arts and Science
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Modern Languages | Slavic Languages and Societies | Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies
For my honors capstone I examined the development of Tolstoy’s philosophies and how they are illustrated throughout his literature. I have compared two of Tolstoy’s works written before his theological conversion: “The Cossacks” and Anna Karenina, to three short stories written after, “The Death of Ivan Ilych”, “The Kreutzer Sonata,” and “Master and Man”. As time passed, the moralistic undertones of Tolstoy’s works became more apparent. His literature, whether short story or novel, includes a vast number of complex themes ranging from topics such as death and infidelity to a spiritual awakening and nature. As a result, I chose four prominent themes to focus on while analyzing the selected works. These themes include: life and death, religion, the essence of women, and the class divisions that separate society. The themes of focus for this project were selected because of their prevalence and ability to resonate with readers in the present day.
In addition to the five works written by Tolstoy that were previously mentioned, I have used various biographies and scholarly articles to assist in the research portion of this project. The secondary scholarly literature includes: Tolstoy’s Major Fiction by Edward Wasiolek, Tolstoy by Henri Troyat, and Tolstoy: A Biography by A.N. Wilson. The secondary literature detailed Tolstoy’s personal life including his relationship with his wife, Sofya Andreyevna Bers, and their children. The biographers, Troyat and Wilson, provided crucial accounts of Tolstoy’s relationship with the peasants who worked his land at his home, Yasnaya Polyana. After learning of Tolstoy’s personal life and his critiques of the society around him, the meaning and intent of his literature comes full circle.
Almeter, Kelly, "The Moralist’s Perspective: An Analysis of a Contemporary Reader’s Connection to Leo Tolstoy’s Themes of Life as Presented in Five Selected Works" (2014). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 748.
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