While in Berlin, Gershkovich is focusing on the part of her book project that concerns what she calls “White Tolstoy,” or what Tolstoy’s legacy meant for a Russian émigré society in Berlin ...
Nina Maria Gorrissen Lecture
Tolstoy on Trial: Contesting the Imperial Past on Stage in Moscow and Berlin
“A literary trial, though a form of dispute most appealing to the general public, inspires much doubt, and smacks of provincialism,” reads a 1926 review of the theatrical trial of Pozdnyshev, Tolstoy’s protagonist in The Kreutzer Sonata. The performance, staged in Berlin by the Russian Writers Union, offered an occasion for the diverse émigré community to articulate a set of shared values—debating the rule of law, the rights of women, and the crimes of tsarist Russia. In this talk, Tatyana Gershkovich reconstructs the process of staging Tolstoy’s literary trial in Berlin and contrasts it with similar trials staged in the Soviet Union. In so doing, she demonstrates how these two emerging societies deployed Tolstoy in an effort to position themselves in relation to Russia’s imperial past.