At the Tolstoy Museum Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 19 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of At the Tolstoy Museum.
This section contains 264 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
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At the Tolstoy Museum Summary & Study Guide Description

At the Tolstoy Museum Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on At the Tolstoy Museum by Donald Barthelme.

The following version of this story was used to create this study guide: Barthelme, Donald. Forty Stories. New York: Penguin Books, 2005, p. 109 – 119.

The story begins with the first-person narrator describing the Tolstoy Museum. The narrator had convinced the security to lower all of the paintings of Tolstoy by six inches. Some unusual characteristics of Tolstoy’s life, such as his tendency to bow “backward” (109), were revealed. After some illustrations of Tolstoy’s visage covering two full pages, the narrator returns to describing the museum. The museum was structured like an unstable upside-down pyramid, stacked like three boxes on top of each other.

According to the narrator, guards at the museum carry buckets of handkerchiefs because of the museum’s tendency to make people cry because of Tolstoy’s resemblance to a disappointed father.

The narrator then reminisces about one of Tolstoy’s stories that he has read. In the story, a bishop sails to an island to teach natives how to pray properly. When the natives say they have forgotten his teachings, the bishop tells them to use their previous method of prayer. This story caused the narrator to feel sad.

After some pictures of the exhibits at the museum and the museum’s architecture, the narrator describes the plaza of the museum, in which a man is playing a wooden trumpet. Other visitors to the museum discuss the inspirational capacity of the museum and the musician, and the narrator remarks that he is still waiting for something “vivifying” (118) to happen to him in a different section of the museum.

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This section contains 264 words
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