Fedor Sologub and Lev Tolstoj

Much research has been devoted to the influence of nineteenth-century Russian writers, especially Nikolaj Gogol′ and Fedor Dostoevskij, on the works of Fedor Sologub. Lev Tolstoj is rarely mentioned in such discussions, despite the fact that in 1910 Sologub published a relatively lengthy article on Tolstoj, “Edinyj put′ L′va Tolstogo,” and adapted War and Peace for the stage two years later.

In his article, Sologub presents Tolstoj as his version of the ideal Symbolist poet in terms that are familiar from Sologub’s theoretical articles. Tolstoj, according to him, is daring (derzajuščij) enough to tear down the veils (pokrovy) that obscure the illusion (obman) that is this world. He does not despair in the face of this illusion, but responds by creating his own poetic universe whose charms (očarovanie) lull readers into thinking it is an imitation of this world. But Tolstoj’s created universe differs in one important way: it is a world of harmony brought about by his realization that humans do not possess individual wills and that a much larger force orders our lives, the same worldview that underlies Sologub’s The Theater of One Will.

In the summer of 1912, while working on his stage adaptation of War and Peace, Sologub wrote to the critic Izmailov that “takie velikie proizvedenija, kak Vojna i mir, Brat′ja Karamazovy i pr., dolžny byt′ istočnikami novogo tvorčestva, kak drevnie mify byli materialom dlja tragedii …” This quote leaves the impression that Sologub intended his play to be a Symbolist version of War and Peace, but in the same letter Sologub insisted that “v dannom slučae ja pokorno sledoval za avtorom, ne derzaja prisočinjat′ svoe.”

My paper will examine Sologub’s Vojna i mir. Kartiny iz romana L. N. Tolstogo, izbrannye i prisposoblennye dlja sceny Fedorom Sologubom and ask if Sologub did write his own War and Peace or if he did in fact add nothing of his own to the text as he insisted. In conclusion I will show that, while Sologub did create his War and Peace almost word for word from Tolstoj’s novel, his choice of scenes and details does result in a much different work, one that emphasizes the common areas Sologub felt existed between Tolstoj and the Symbolists. The first half of this paper, which emphasizes Sologub’s theoretical view of Tolstoj, will be presented at the AAASS conference in St. Louis.