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New Left Review I/41, January-February 1967


J. G.

‘Tolstoy and the Novel’

John Bayley: Tolstoy and the Novel. Chatto & Windus. 35s.

It would be fair to say that the theoretical framework of Tolstoy and the Novel is not materially different from Bayley’s early book The Characters of Love. Tolstoy is the greatest novelist because ‘he takes for granted and conveys with overwhelming assurance the authenticity of the individual vision’. Indeed the major claim for Tolstoy is that he is more than a novelist, that, at his greatest, the conventions of genre (including that of ‘realism’) are irrelevant to the reader’s sense of the ‘life’ that he conveys.

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