Make your own free website on
All About Leo Tolstoy
Writing Style
Home | Biography | Personal Influences | Criticism on Tolstoy | Tolstoy's Photo Album | Themes | Influence on World Literature | Writing Style | Historical Background | Timeline of World Events | Excerpts of Tolstoy's Works | Available Links | Classics | Works Cited

        Tolstoy used ordinary events and characters to examine war, religion, feminism, and other topics. He was convinced that philosophical principles could only be understood in their concrete expression in history. All of his work is characterized by uncomplicated style, careful construction, and deep insight into human nature. His chapters are short, and he paid much attention to the details of everyday life. Tolstoy also refused to recognize the conventional climaxes of narrative - War and Peace begins in the middle of a conversation and ends in the first epilogue in the middle of a sentence.
        Gary R. Jahn believes that in Tolstoy's work, the simple sentence is the norm for the narrative.  Besides being comparatively short, sentences are often elliptical (=syntactically deponent in some respect, usually missing one of the normal lead elements, a subject or a verb).  In longer sentences there is a strong tendency toward a simple linking of independent clauses rather than a resort to subordinate constructions. There is a strong tendency toward the inversion of the standard order of elements within clauses‑-mutatis mutandis, the standard order of sentence elements in contemporary standard Russian (CSR) is subject‑verb‑object, while these stories show a frequent displacement of the subject.  The stories frequently display lexical material and syntactic patterns which are characteristic of popular speech "regional".  Related to item five, there is the use of directly allusive language material (quotations from the Bible, interpolation of proverbs, use of collocations typical of folktales or religious legends).  The narrative voice has a popular colouration. (On the Style of a Story for the People)