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Chapter 20 - European Literature

from Part III - Literature, the Arts, and Intellectual Life

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2023

Anna A. Berman
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Russian novels are in intense, ambivalent dialogue with the European tradition; Tolstoy’s take up the British and the French in particular. In Anna Karenina, Tolstoy reminds us that adultery is an ever-present threat in the British family novel, as it is in the novel of sensation. Like Tolstoy, Mrs. Henry Wood and Mary Elizabeth Braddon contrast the dynamics of different marriages. They also set adultery in the context of a system that works against women. In Wood’s East Lynne, Carlyle not only forgives his dying ex-wife, but declines to indict her former lover for murder; as he says, “I leave him to a higher retribution: to One who says ‘Vengeance is mine.’” This quote becomes Tolstoy’s epigraph.

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Tolstoy in Context , pp. 163 - 170
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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