Bayley, John. Leo Tolstoy. Plymouth, England: Northcote House, 1997. Criticism and interpretation of Tolstoy’s work.
Bayley, John. Tolstoy and the Novel. London: Chatto and Windus, 1966. Influenced by Henry James’s organic conception of the novel, Bayley concentrates on trenchant analyses of War and Peace and Anna Karenina. He also perceptively examines Family Happiness, The Kreutzer Sonata, and The Devil.
Bayley, John, ed. Introduction to The Portable Tolstoy. New York: Viking, 1978. Bayley has written a discerning introduction as well as compiled a comprehensive chronology and select bibliography. This anthology omits the long novels but does excerpt Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth. The fiction choices are fine. Also included are A Confession and The Power of Darkness.
Benson, Ruth Crego. Women in Tolstoy: The Ideal and the Erotic. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973. Concentrates on Leo Tolstoy’s changing vision of the role and importance of family life. Suggests that Tolstoy struggled most of his life with a dichotomous view of women, regarding them in strictly black-and-white terms, as saints or sinners. Analyzes the female characters in the major and several minor works in terms of such a double view. An interesting and provocative piece of feminist criticism.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Leo Tolstoy. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. A collection of critical essays. The views expressed give a good sampling of the wide range of opinions about Tolstoy prevalent among Western critics. Many of these critics assign a prominent place in literary history to Tolstoy, comparing him to, among others, Homer and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Includes bibliography.
Christian, R. F. Tolstoy: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1969. Christian is a leading Tolstoyan who is knowledgeable about his subject’s sources and influences, writes clearly, and provides particularly helpful interpretations of Family Happiness and The Kreutzer Sonata.
Gustafson, Richard F. Leo Tolstoy, Resident and Stranger: A Study in Fiction and Theology. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1986. Gustafson seeks to rescue Tolstoy from those who would classify him solely as a realist. By focusing on what he sees as the inherently and uniquely Russian attributes of Tolstoy’s writing, Gustafson reunites the preconversion artist and the postconversion religious thinker and prophet. The study’s bibliography is divided between books devoted to Tolstoy and those focusing on Eastern Christian thought.
Jahn, Gary R. The Death of Ivan Ilich: An Interpretation. New York: Twayne, 1993. After providing a summary and critique of previous criticism on Tolstoy’s most famous story, Jahn examines the context of the story within other works by Tolstoy to argue that the story is an affirmation of life rather than a document of despair.
Orwin, Donna Tussig. Tolstoy’s Art and Thought, 1847-1880. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993. Divided into three parts, which coincide with the first three decades of Tolstoy’s literary career, Orwin’s study attempts to trace the origins and growth of the Russian master’s ideas. After focusing on Tolstoy’s initial creative vision, Orwin goes on to analyze, in depth, his principal works.
Rowe, William W. Leo Tolstoy. Boston: Twayne, 1986. Concise introduction to Tolstoy’s life and work, with special emphasis on the major novels and later didactic writings. Discusses, briefly, most of Tolstoy’s major concerns. Excellent treatment of individual characters in the major novels. Includes bibliography.
Seifrid, Thomas. “Gazing on Life’s Page: Perspectival Vision in Tolstoy.” PMLA 113 (May, 1998): 436-448. Suggests that the typical visual situation in Tolstoy’s fiction is perspectival; argues that Tolstoy’s impulse can be linked with the material nature of books and that this linkage has implications for Russian culture as well as for the relation between the verbal and the visual in general.
Simmons, Ernest T. Introduction to Tolstoy’s Writings. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. Simmons is the dean of Russian literature studies in the United States and has also written a two-volume biography of Tolstoy. This book is compact, well organized, comprehensive, and reliable. Its style, unfortunately, is pedestrian.
Smoluchowski, Louise. Lev and Sonya: The Story of the Tolstoy Marriage. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1987. With the publication of Sonya Tolstoy’s diaries it became apparent that in order to understand Tolstoy, it is necessary to understand his marriage to the extraordinary Sonya. Smoluchowski does a good job of retelling the story, relying mainly on the words of the principals themselves.
Steiner, George. Tolstoy or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism. 2d ed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996. This welcome reappearance of a classic study of the epic versus the dramatic, first published in 1959, carries only a new preface. In it, however, Steiner makes a compelling case for the reprinting, in the age of deconstructionism, of this wide-ranging study not just of individual texts, but of contrasting worldviews.
Tolstaia, Sophia Andreevna. The Diaries of Sophia Tolstoy. Translated by Cathy Porter, edited by O. A. Golinenko et al. New York: Random House, 1985. This massive personal record of Tolstoy’s wife, detailing their life together, spans the years 1862-1910. Sophia Tolstoy kept an almost daily account of her husband’s opinions, doubts, and plans concerning his literary activity and social ventures as well as of his relationship with other writers and thinkers. Her notes give a fascinating and intimate view of the Tolstoy family and of the extent to which it served as background for many of the literary episodes. Illustrated.
Tolstoy, Alexandra. Tolstoy: A Life of My Father. 1953. Reprint. New York: Octagon Books, 1973. Many of Tolstoy’s offspring, relations, and peers wrote about him. This is a good place to begin for those who wish to understand why Tolstoy inspired such reverence in those around him.
Wasiolek, Edward. Tolstoy’s Major Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978. Having written a superb study of Fyodor Dostoevski’s fiction, Wasiolek has composed an equally first-rate critique of Tolstoy’s. He concentrates on thorough analyses of ten Tolstoyan works, including Family Happiness, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and “Master and Man.” His is a close and acute reading, influenced by Russian Formalists and by Roland Barthes. A twenty-page chronicle of Tolstoy’s life and work is illuminating.
Wilson, A. N. Tolstoy. New York: W. W. Norton, 1988. A long but immensely readable biography, breezy, insightful, and opinionated, by a highly regarded British novelist. Illustrated; includes a useful chronology of Tolstoy’s life and times as well as notes, bibliography, and index.