Places: Resurrection

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Voskreseniye, 1899 (English translation, 1899)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Social realism

Time of work: Late nineteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedLaw court

Law Resurrectioncourt. Government court in which the prostitute Katusha is tried and sentenced for murder. When Prince Nekhludoff, acting as an officer of the court, first sees Katusha, he does not recognize her, since she is using the name Lyubov (which in Russian literally means “love”). When the judge demands to know her baptismal name, her patronymic, and her surname, Nekhludoff is horrified to realize that this is the same peasant girl he seduced and then abandoned many years earlier.

While many authors use the courtroom setting as a symbol of justice, Tolstoy makes it a seat of the miscarriage of justice. Katusha is found guilty of the murder of the merchant and sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, although she believed the poison she used on the merchant was in fact a harmless sleep drug. Nekhludoff is stricken with guilt at the knowledge that his seduction and abandonment of her has led to this.


Prison. Institution in which Katusha is detained while awaiting transportation to a Siberian penal camp. Here she meets a large number of other women sentenced for various crimes. Many of these people are not guilty of the crimes for which they are charged, and many of the others have committed crimes that should not be considered crimes at all.


*Moscow. Russia’s largest city, in which Katusha is tried and convicted for murder. Tolstoy pays little attention to the emblems for which Moscow is most famous, such as the Kremlin and Red Square, as his focus remains firmly upon the ordinary working people, their markets, cheap pubs, and neighborhoods in which they live in squalor.

*St. Petersburg

*St. Petersburg. Imperial capital of Russia to which Nekhludoff travels to have Katusha’s case reviewed by a state council. If that fails, he plans to petition the czar himself to pardon Katusha or commute her sentence from penal servitude to simple exile. Tolstoy portrays St. Petersburg as a place of elegant and subtle corruption, where men with perfect manners who speak perfect French make unethical deals.


Panovo. Estate on which Nekhludoff first meets Katusha. At the time of their first encounter, the estate belonged to Nekhludoff’s aunts. In his youth, he was capable of a pure affection for the young Katusha; however, after he became acquainted with the world’s corruption, he in turn corrupted her and helped drive her toward prostitution. However, after seeing her unjustly condemned, Nekhludoff arranges for Panovo and his other estates to be managed by trustees so he will be free to follow Katusha to her Siberian exile.


*Siberia. Vast wasteland of eastern Russia that is the involuntary destination of the exiled Katusha. The wide expanses of the Russian empire east of the Ural Mountains were used for penal camps and internal exile by the Russian government almost as soon as these regions were incorporated into the realm. Even in the days of the czars, Siberia was strongly associated with the exile of prisoners, both criminals and political prisoners, although the conditions that Tolstoy so harshly criticizes in this novel would prove mild compared to the brutality of the Soviet gulag system in the twentieth century. In Siberia Nekhludoff finally makes things right with Katusha. While reading the Bible, he discovers the rules by which God means humans to live, neither harming others nor imposing harmful punishments on them, but loving and caring for one another.

BibliographyDe Courcel, Martine. Tolstoy: The Ultimate Reconciliation. Translated by Peter Levi. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1988. A thorough discussion of Tolstoy, touching on all his important works. Describes the people and events in Tolstoy’s life during the long and arduous writing of Resurrection and includes an analysis of that novel.Noyes, George Rapall. Tolstoy. New York: Dover Publications, 1968. Connects the many works of Tolstoy with reference to biographical information that is pertinent to the understanding of his writings. Includes many of Tolstoy’s published writings, diaries, and letters. Concludes that Resurrection is a novel of accessories, where the importance lies in gestures, mannerisms, and analysis of its characters’ thoughts.Rowe, William W. Leo Tolstoy. Boston: Twayne, 1986. Indicates the historical facts from which Tolstoy contrived Resurrection. Suggests the possible meanings and images of the novel. Includes biographical information as well as discussions of several novels and stories. An excellent source.Simmons, Ernest J. Tolstoy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973. Focuses on Tolstoy as a major thinker of his time and a religious, social, and political reformer. Describes Tolstoy’s childhood and life as a writer, and explains Tolstoy’s motivation to write Resurrection and the structure and intent of the novel.Troyat, Henri. Tolstoy. Translated by Nancy Amphoux. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1967. A thorough treatment of the author, with many illustrations. Gives a long explanation of the conditions surrounding the writing of Resurrection and some explanation of the text.
Categories: Places