Family Loving Can Mean A Lot Of Things

1283 words - 6 pages

I found the differences between sentimental and realist writing strikingly obvious, but the details as of why were hidden to me until I went deeper into analyzing the text. To figure out the exact differences and similarities that set these two writing eras apart, I examined The Island of Bornholm, a sentimentalist story written by Nikolai Karamzin, and The Family of a Vourdalak, a realist piece by Alexis Tolstoy. With a gap of forty-six years between the two pieces, there is bound to be certain differences in style and word choice, but beyond this were variances in character details, scene descriptions, and tension building that made these two stories so unique to the reader.
The best place to start is at the beginning, where a big difference in scene setting is marked by a varied use of details. The Island of Bornholm, in classic sentimentalist fashion, creates an eloquent opening based around the change of nature and the joyful time between friends. Descriptions are flowing poetry described in extensive detail, and every possibility of nature being involved in a scene is emphasized to its fullest possibility. In the section of our main character walking inside the grounds of the castle on page 357, we are given exact details of minor elements that play no part in the story other than to build mood. We are told the exact plants growing in the courtyard, the types of lamps and chandeliers lighting the surroundings, and even the details of where fragments of pillars and cornice lay strewn about. Setting is created through this physical description rather than in details of ‘why’ or ‘how.’ This style of scene setting is used instead in The Family of a Vourdalak, where our entire opening is based around why the story is being told, who is telling it, and to whom is he speaking to. We’re given exact dates for everything, a reason for everything, and a logical explanation for character actions. In fact, most of our scene building is done through character interaction rather than raw, physical description, and speech is our biggest source for story tension.
Without character interaction there would be nothing in The Family of a Vourdalak, as that is the only way the reader finds out the conflict. The family tells our main character that their grandfather has gone out to kill a man named Ali Beg, but with only that information it is unclear why the family is so nervous about him coming back to the house. Only later does the narrator explain the concept of vampires to his naïve audience in the parlor, and show us the real conflict of the story, giving us the details that we could not fill in on our own. This is starkly different from Karamzin’s story, where we are excluded explanations and the ending is left unsaid. The narrator refuses to tell us the secret of the woman in the castle, and instead leaves us to fill it on our own. The Family of a Vourdalak takes no steps in trying to make its story a mystery, at least not for very long, and because of...

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