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„I dumatʹ o krase nogtej“. Über die Nagelpflege und die Ethik des „comme il faut“ (Lev Tolstojs Polemik mit Puškin)

Natalia Borisova

Pages 246 - 271


“I dumat’ o krase nogtej”: About nail care and the ethics of “comme il faut” (Lev Tolstoj’s polemic with Puškin)

This article focuses on the polemics between Lev Tolstoj and Aleksandr Puškin on questions relating to self-conduct and self-fashioning as expressed in the example of nail care. In the Russian discourse on del’nost’, the issue of nail care marks two approaches – which should be differentiated from one another stylistically and ethically – to shaping one’s “self”: One approach is the code of aesthetic self-representation; the other is the code of resource optimization. Concretely, it concerns the choice between self-representation as a dandy (Puškin) and self-representation as a “del’nyj čelovek” (Tolstoj), i.e., as a fit, suitable, practical person. While Puškin is strongly oriented towards the English Romantic tradition and such figures as Lord Byron or Beau Brummell, Tolstoj in his self-interpretation goes back to the theses of Benjamin Franklin. The paper addresses the question under what circumstances – or rather, with what argumentation and justification – the choice is made for one of the many possible codes and how one distances oneself from the alternatives.

The article is written in German.


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