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The Power of Darkness

Leo Tolstoy

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The Power of Darkness is a five-act drama that follows the downfall of the peasants Anísya and Nikíta as they succumb to a series of sordid temptations, from adultery and drunkenness to outright murder. Written in 1886 but suppressed by censors until 1902, the play is a realist portrayal of some of the darkest elements of Russian peasant life. Similar to some other late Tolstoy works, like Resurrection, the play’s psychological exploration of human depravity is accompanied by a sharp social critique of the Russian Empire and its role in perpetuating poverty and ignorance among its lowest and most marginalized classes.

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