No More Horsing Around: Sex, Love, and Motherhood in Tolstoi’s Kholstomer
By giving us a horse’s perspective on human life, Lev Tolstoi’s Kholstomer (1886) has usually been recognized in the west as a stellar example of the author’s use of “defamiliarization.” Most of the critical attention the story has received in Russia, by contrast, consists of Soviet-era studies that examine the creative history of the text and/or remark on its satiric elements. In this article, Ronald D. LeBlanc examines instead the treatment of the themes of sex, love, and motherhood in Tolstoi’s story about a castrated horse. In particular, he explores the significance that castration—with its accompanying cessation of sexual desire—appears to have in this story about a selfless gelding, a tale that may be read as the expression of a desire on the author’s part to be unburdened of the affliction of sexual lust and thus to be freed to pursue a more spiritual, less carnal existence on earth.
Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Leblanc, Ronald D., “No More Horsing Around:” Slavic Review V. 70, No. 3 (2011): 545.
Copyright 2011 Association for Slavic East European and Eurasian Studies