Natasha Rostova’s smile: War and Peace in intertextual and biographical perspectives
A. L. Zorin
University of Oxford (Great Britain, Oxford), The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences (Russia, Moscow)
Keywords: Tolstoy, War and Peace, Vinokur, lived experience, biography, recognition, Homer, Schiller, Dickens, Wundt, Sechenov
Abstract: The article discusses the role of biographical experience in the literary text and proposes the hermeneutical concept of “lived experience” (Erlebnis), introduced into Russian literary scholarship by Grigory Vinokur, as a frame, inside which social, political, historical, cultural and intertextual determinants and sources of the text can interact. Our case study is “Natasha’s smile” — the famous episode at the end of the main part of War and Peace immediately preceding the epilogue. This episode is contextualised within the literary tradition to which Tolstoy adhered (we refer to the works that, according to the writer, made either a “very big” or an “enormous” impression upon him), the scientific ideas of the mid-nineteenth century that interested him, and his own biographical experience. Such a constellation of factors belonging to different layers allows us to see how Tolstoy interiorised and reworked the mythology of romantic love that defined so much both in his works and in his personal destiny. We do not try to read the literary text as a reflection of the author’s biography or, in a reverse way, to uncover the literary models for the construction of life, but seek to analyse both as different ways to solve problems that were always important for the writer.
Acknowledgements. This research was supported with a grant of the Russian Science Foundation (project no. ¹ 16-18-00068, “Mythology and Ritual Behavior in Contemporary Russian City”).
To cite this article: Zorin, A. L. (2019). Natasha Rostova’s smile: War and Peace in intertextual and biographical perspectives. Shagi / Steps, 5(2), 86–109. (In Russian). DOI: 10.22394/2412-9410-2019-5-2-86-109.