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"Who, What Am I?"Tolstoy Struggles to Narrate the Self$
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Irina Paperno

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453342

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453342.001.0001

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“So That I Could Easily Read Myself”: Tolstoy’s Early Diaries

“So That I Could Easily Read Myself”: Tolstoy’s Early Diaries

Chapter One “So That I Could Easily Read Myself”: Tolstoy’s Early Diaries
"Who, What Am I?"

Irina Paperno

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Tolstoy's early diaries, focusing on the creation of the narrative self within a temporal scheme. In his early years, Tolstoy found himself pursuing two strategies, which alternate and compete with each other. In diaries and notebooks, the young Tolstoy subjects his life to a narrative, temporal, and moral grid. He aims both at bringing moral order to his life and at capturing, on a daily basis, the ever-elusive essence of experience in writing. In the experimental A History of Yesterday (1851), he attempts to represent life “as it is,” transcending the limitations of narrative—such as the forms of sequential time and causal logic, the need for coherent meaning and closure, and the division between subject and object.

Keywords:   Leo Tolstoy, narrative self, temporal scheme, moral order, experience, A History of Yesterday, sequential time, causal logic

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