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No. 9 (2020): Time, History, Biography: Theoretical Aspects of the Study of Ego-Documents

I Diari e la scrittura dell’ultimo Tolstoj. Una ricerca oltre il moralismo

  • Maria Candida Ghidini
December 30, 2020


All his life Tolstoi wrote diaries. In his last thirty years, they became so important that they have influenced his entire work, non-fiction as well as fiction. Originally a rational, planned practice of self-perfection, they evolved into an introspective reflection of the I and recorded the tension of merging with a super-personal, universal dimension: the authentic, eternal I that does not know death. This article argues that Tolstoi’s search cannot be reduced to the moralist and rationalist paradigms that critics have often used, especially the religious thinkers of the Silver Age. The Diaries reveal that the starting point for a deep reflection on the I is the experience of the limit and death. Hence starts a new perception of the self which, in order to preserve it, transcends it into a universal dimension that helps to overcome emptiness and a lack of meaning. On a literary level, this leads to a new type of writing and a new conception of authorship.


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