L.N. Tolstoy: Life, Work and Criticism


41 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919966-41-1





Reviewed by Eric L. Swanick

Eric L. Swanick is the New Brunswick Legislative librarian and the
author of Hardiness, Perseverance and Faith: New Brunswick Library


Authoritative Studies in World Literature is a series originating from York Press in Fredericton, New Brunswick. There are six others to date and all follow similar formats: an introductory biography, a chronological list of major publications, a survey of these major publications, “art and thought,” and an annotated bibliography. All of this in 41 pages, nine of which are an index. Edward Wasiolek is Distinguished Service Professor of Slavic, English and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago.

Tolstoy (1828-1910) was a remarkable man, of prodigious energy and output. The book shows the numerous influences and inspirations he experienced and with each of these he had large followings. In fact, his influence was such that, as the author states, there were two Tsars, one in Moscow and the other at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy’s home and estate.

Why would one purchase a book of such brevity? Clearly in a work of this length nearly all of the controversy surrounding Tolstoy’s life and the ideas he propagated must be only introductory. Mention is made of most controversies, but there is not sufficient space for them to be commented upon to any extent. However, the discussion is sufficient so that the reader can, with the assistance of the short, briefly annotated bibliography, read further.

The book’s aim is to be a “succinct and inexpensive research book... designed to help students.” Readers should remember that it is solely an introduction. From this starting point, they should go on to read Tolstoy, to learn how remarkable a man he actually was and how extensive his contributions were.


Wasiolek, Edward, “L.N. Tolstoy: Life, Work and Criticism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36090.