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Tolstoy On WarNarrative Art and Historical Truth in “War and Peace”$
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Rick McPeak and Donna Tussing Orwin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448980

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448980.001.0001

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date: 23 February 2019

Tolstoy the International Relations Theorist

Tolstoy the International Relations Theorist

(p.175) 12 Tolstoy the International Relations Theorist
Tolstoy On War

David A. Welch

Cornell University Press

This chapter applies the structural arguments of International Relations theorists in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace by making use of Tolstoy's argument against the influence of great men in history. The “structure” here create the larger forces generated by political institutions and constraints within a country as well as by constraints internationally. This structure limits the individual agency of even the most powerful political actors. In International Relations, most people would say that the reasons for events rest somewhere on a sliding scale between two kinds of causes. The actions of individuals matter while always being influenced and limited by structural considerations. The chapter's approach exposes an underlying irony in Tolstoy's position. As an artist Tolstoy affects culture. He himself is a great man, in this case in competition with Napoleon. Tolstoy, however, makes no claim to control the future and to this extent is true to his own thought.

Keywords:   International Relations, Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, structure, political institutions, political constraints

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