Classification – name: Literary studies
Pages: 209–232
Publisher: A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IWL RAS Publ.)
Rights – description: Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 (СС BY-ND)
Rights – URL:
Language of the publication: Russian
Type of document: Research Article
Collection: L.N. Tolstoy: Moral Search and Creative Laboratory
Year of publication: 2021
Place of publication: Moscow


Author: Alexander V. Gulin
Gulin, А.V. “A Novel from the Times of Peter I in the Spiritual and Creative Movement of Leo Tolstoy.” L.N. Tolstoy: Moral Search and Creative Laboratory. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2021, pp. 209–232. (In Russ.)

About the author:

Alexander V. Gulin, DSc in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The article is devoted to the study of Leo Tolstoy’s work in 1872–1873 on an unfinished novel from the times of Peter I in the context of the artist’s spiritual and moral movement. The time that came after the epic novel “War and Peace” is considered a period of a spiritual crisis directly related to this event in Tolstoy’s life. In the early 1870s, the writer’s search for new creative paths and fluctuations in his religious worldview were complexly interrelated, which led to a kind of experiment: the only attempt in Tolstoy’s work to portray on a large scale the distant historical epoch of the late 17th — early 18th centuries. The article analyzes in detail the changes that Tolstoy’s psychological method experiences in the surviving fragments of the novel, applied to the “extreme” historical material that is not typical for the writer’s work. The novel from the times of Peter I appears as the maximum possible point of Tolstoy’s removal from the main spiritual and poetic principles in his work. Together with private artistic achievements, this becomes one of the main reasons for the general failure to write a historical novel. At the same time, it turns out to be a natural  transition of the writer in the mainstream of new poetics to work on the novel about modern times — the next to come novel “Anna Karenina”.

Keywords: L.N. Tolstoy, Peter I, the Petrine epoch, “Anna Karenina”, psychologism, Pushkin.