Tolstoy: Requiem for the Truth Book Review

Tolstoy: Requiem for the Truth
An examination of some of the themes in Leo Tolstoy's "Sevastopol Sketches."
# 118004 | 1,517 words | 0 sources | 2009 | US
Published on Dec 28, 2009 in Literature (Russian)

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This paper discusses the stories "Sevastopol in December" and "Sevastopol in May" in Leo Tolstoy's "Sevastopol Sketches." The writer focuses on the themes of truth, vanity and fear in these depictions of a war-torn city, and shows how Tolstoy attacks pride, vanity, and self-interest with the weapons of death, fear of death, humility, and innocence. Tolstoy encapsulates truth within two unnamed children, using them as foils to Kalugin and Praskukhin, and by placing vanity and humility in opposition within the realm of war, fear, and death, he conveys the ultimate, honest horror that vanity has upon youth. The paper concludes that Tolstoy's ultimate goal is to expose the truth behind vanity and false truces; and that he does this through two small, innocuous children is truly graceful.

From the Paper:

"Following Galstin and Kalugin's conversation about the beauty of bombs being indistinguishable from stars is a ten-year-old girl observing and commenting on the same phenomenon. This is the shocking truth that Tolstoy is striving for. The juxtaposition of a young, innocent girl upon a landscape of bombs exploding, with a widowed mother ignoring her questions of what they mean, is disheartening. That is truth. The flippant and casual sarcasm that Galstin and Kalugin exude during their conversation adds to this stark comparison. Tolstoy uses this dark juxtaposition to hammer home the cold truth and to expose what is underneath the gloried stories of heroism. Behind every hero is the reality that is this little, innocent girl. This girl, however, is untainted by fear. And fear is something that Tolstoy garnishes all his vain characters with -- Kalugin and Praskukhin most notably."

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