It is not well-known that "The Devil" is a semi-autobiographical work, based on an episode of sexual temptation Tolstoy experienced towards a young woman named Domna in 1880. Fully aware of the consequences awaiting him should he act on his impulses, Tolstoy resisted, finding emotional solace in the confidences of friends. Years after, when the danger was long over, he wrote a full account of the incident to a friend; this resulted in his writing this story, "The Devil." Tolstoy had imagined the consequences that might have resulted from his acting on his temptation, and used that as inspiration for the story. The ancient conceptions of the flesh versus the spirit, and women as the devil's agents are brought to fruition here. Written in 1889, this story was not published until 1911, the year following Tolstoy's death. Due to its posthumous publication, it is unknown which the the two endings Tolstoy would have adopted for its final edition.
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Published October 19, 2011
Literature & Fiction.