Summary

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Resurrection is Russian writer Leo Tolstoy's 1899 novel about a nobleman trying to right a past wrong and his journey through the class system that existed in Tsarist Russia. It was his last published novel before his death in 1910.

In the story, Russian nobleman Dmitri Ivanovich Nekhlyudov has an affair with the maid Katerina "Katusha" Mikhaelovna Maslova in which Maslova is impregnated with Nekhlyudov's child. The child is lost in birth and Maslova becomes an alcoholic prostitute. She is ultimately wrongly accused of murdering one of her clients.

Unknown to Maslova, Nekhlyudov attends her trial. During it, he struggles with his own feelings of guilt for setting Maslova on the path on which she was found herself. He attempts to intervene by aiding in her appeal.

During his visits to Maslova's prison, Nekhlyudov is —seemingly for the first time—exposed to the horrible conditions endured by the lowest classes. And, in the course of fighting for her freedom, he becomes jaded by the bureaucratic indignity of the correctional system. Nekhlyudov is personally tortured by his inability to reconcile the ethics of the system of punishment to which Maslova and the other prisoners are subjected. Through this all, he continues to nurture an on-and-off love for Maslova.

In the end, Nekhlyudov manages to have Maslova's sentence of hard labor reduced but is unable to win her hand.

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