Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Marriage in War and Peace

Marriage is a major theme in War and Peace. I have been curious about how Leo Tolstoy’s own experiences with marriage and his views on marriage can be seen in War and Peace.

On September 23, 1862 Leo Tolstoy married Sofya Bers. Leo was 34 and Sofya was only 18. Tolstoy started writing War and Peace the next year in 1863 and finished it in 1869. As we learned in class Tolstoy died in a train station attempting to leave his wife, but how was this marriage in its early years when Tolstoy was writing War and Peace and does this show in the novel?

When Leo Tolstoy died he had been married for 48 years. Both Sofya and Leo kept diaries throughout their lives. It is from these diaries that biographers have been able to learn about the life of the Tolsotys’ and their marriage. The early years of their marriage were not without problems but still they were relatively happy. While Leo wrote War and Peace Sofya copied and edited Leo’s drafts. As time progressed their marriage became more and more strained until Leo finally decided to run away.

In War and Peace so far a majority of marriages in the book so far have been unhappy or superficial. I think this reflects feelings Tolstoy was already starting to feel in his own marriage.


1 comment:

  1. I definitely think you are on to something here, David. Tolstoy clearly inserts his own opinions in the novel. However, I can also see this harsher take on marriage as more of a criticism of the nature of most marriages at the time-- that is, that marriages were often based on superficiality, rather than any true emotion. Maybe this occurred in Tolstoy's own marriage, but maybe it didn't, or at least he wasn't seeing it yet. It is possible that he just saw this happening so much around him he felt compelled to write about it.