The Distinctive Features of L. N. Tolstoy’s Epistolary Style in his Correspondence with A. A. Tolstaya

2020. № 1, 78-90

Аnna A. Shcherbinina, Moscow State Pedagogical University (Russia, Moscow),


The article analyzes the distinctive features of L. N. Tolstoy’s correspondence with A. A. Tolstaya. The research allows us to witness the changes in the writer’s epistolary style over the course of nearly half a century. The division of L. N. Tolstoy and A. A. Tolstaya’s correspondence into several periods, correlating with the stages of Tolstoy’s life, makes it possible to determine that the reason for the change in the style was the evolution in the worldview of L. N. Tolstoy. The analysis of the composition, the themes, the means of artistic expression, the manner and the language features has revealed the artistic techniques inherent to Tolstoy’s epistolary style in different time periods. During the first period there were experiments with the form of presentation and language. Most distinctive features of the author’s epistolary style were established in 1860s. In the 1870s and 1880s, however, the religious theme came to the fore. The letters to A. A. Tolstaya contain invaluable information about the internal transformations of the writer. They reflect his moral and spiritual quest, worldview crisis, the change of spiritual guidelines and the formation of new beliefs. The disagreements of the addressees became the reason why the epistolary conversation took the form of religious controversy. The last period of their dialogue (the 1890s,
early 1900s) has a confessional character. The versatility of the correspondence style indicates its importance in the epistolary heritage of the writer, as well as the need for further research of not only the biographical, but also the artistic component.