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Updated Up To 23/01/2018
Volume 1, Number 2 (June 2003) : 45-60
The Fields and Walls of the Imaginations
A Topographical Sketch of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
Tim Langen
Rubric A: Literature and the Ideas of Space
Rubric B: Russian Literature


This essay is an attempt to apply some of the notions of ecology to the imagined worlds of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.  The premise is that each writer’s choice of physical settings has an important effect on his less tangible themes and concepts.  The effects examined in this essay are not primarily social and conventional (systems of meaning), but rather quasi-physical. Tolstoy tends to set his stories along horizontal (though often somewhat irregular) planes, whereas Dostoevsky relies more on vertical planes (walls). These tendencies are reversed in scenes with a strong religious component, as if the authors required a foreign spatial orientation to convey otherworldly themes.

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