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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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Tolstoy’s Confession: What Am I?

Tolstoy’s Confession: What Am I?

(p.60) Chapter Three Tolstoy’s Confession: What Am I?
"Who, What Am I?"

Irina Paperno

Cornell University Press

This chapter studies Tolstoy's Confession (1882) as well as his subsequent religious treatises. As a classic conversion narrative, Tolstoy's Confession achieves a paradoxical effect: it creates a rift between the “I” who writes the narrative and the “I” who has lived the life it describes. At the end, with the “awakening,” the former “I” catches up with the present of writing. However, once the work of conversion is done, the “I” moves toward its own dissolution as self: the new, post-conversion self is beyond time and beyond narrative. Naturally, Tolstoy's Confession receives its meaning from his previous reputation as a writer, but it signals a decisive change not only in his idea of the self but also in his concept of authorship.

Keywords:   Leo Tolstoy, Confession, religious treatises, conversion narrative, self, authorship

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