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Style Analysis

Life of Leo Tolstoy
Picture Gallery
Tolstoy's Themes
Theme Analysis
Tolstoy's Imagery
Tolstoy's Writing Style
Tolstoy's Literary Devices
What Critics Write
Topics of Related Interest
Helpful Resources for Students
Writers Influenced by Leo Tolstoy
Influences on World Literature
Literary Movements
Multimedia Links
Other Wonderful Sites
A Glance at Tolstoy's Masterpieces
Leo Tolstoy's Quotes
Works Cited

     Tolstoy himself considered the novel Anna Karenina as being his best work, choosing this novel even over the War and Peace. So to analyze Tolstoy style of writing it will be more logical to focus on his favorite novel. The following extract are the first three paragraphs of the first chapter of the novel Anna Karenina that starts by introducing the situation in the house of the Oblonskys', one of the main families of the story:  


     “Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys' house. The wife had discovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with a French girl, who had been a governess in their family, and she had announced to her husband that she could not go on living in the same house with him. This position of affairs had now lasted three days, and not only the husband and wife themselves, but all the members of their family and household, were painfully conscious of it. Every person in the house felt that there was so sense in their living together, and that the stray people brought together by chance in any inn had more in common with one another than they, the members of the family and household of the Oblonskys. The wife did not leave her own room, the husband had not been at home for three days. The children ran wild all over the house; the English governess quarreled with the housekeeper, and wrote to a friend asking her to look out for a new situation for her; the man-cook had walked of the day before just at dinner-time; the kitchen-maid, and the coachman had given warning.”


     One important part of style of writing is the point of view. Examining this extract the point of view in Anna Karenina can be said to be omniscient. The narrator is all knowing, his knowledge extends to the thoughts of the characters, or at least one of the characters, Stiva Oblonsky as the reader sees what thoughts are running through his mind when he wakes up like “Yes, yes, how was it now”. The narrator is aware of the actions of all the characters. Narrator sees and tells what every character is doing, “wife did not leave her own room”, “husband had not been at home”, and children ran wild all over the house”.

    Omniscient point of view is characteristic to many of Tolstoy’s big works like War and Peace and Anna Karenina. However, Tolstoy also uses first person point of view. An example can be story Hadji Murad, where the protagonist is telling the story.  

     Another characteristic of Tolstoy’s style is his unique syntax the sentences in his works are usually very long and complex. In the first paragraph of the extract except the first sentence, which has seven words, the rest of sentence, have more than 30 words, raging from 31 to 68.Tolstoy’s sentences are usually compound and complex, rarely they simple.