“The Family of a Vourdalak” by Tolstoy as a Nomadic Narrative Essay

August 17, 2021 by Essay Writer

Nomadic narratives are stories told by nomads or people who travel from one place to another to find new resources. The Family of Vourdalak by Tolstoy is told by Marquis d’Urfé, an old émigré, who has travelled across Eastern Europe as a diplomat describing Hungarians and Serbs. The narrator tells about his two visits to a house of a Serbian peasant who left his home to look for a Turkish robber, Alibek. During the second visit, D’Urfé realizes that the whole family was turned into vampires by their father and escapes the house. The story includes two essential features common to nomadic narratives, as it is an autobiography and it offers a tale about miraculous journeys.

The first dominant quality of nomadic narratives is the autobiographical nature of the story. In The Family of Vourdalak, Tolstoy (n.d.) offers the reader a tale told by D’Urfé about his adventures. Most of the story is enclosed in quotation marks and refers to the personal experience of one man, making the story one-sided and subjective. Therefore, the author tells a story as seen through the eyes of one of the characters assuming no responsibility for any misjudgment or understatement.

The second essential feature of nomadic narratives is the emphasis on mobility of the main character. Stories are usually fragmentary and has large gaps in the narration. This feature is central in The Family of Vourdalak, as the reader receives no information about what happened to the family and the village between his two visits. Tolstoy (n.d.) uses this dominant quality of nomadic narratives to include an element of surprise and intrigue. In conclusion, the story is a nomadic narrative as it is told by a traveler describing his autobiography.


Tolstoy, A. (n.d.). The family of vourdalak (N. Zumel, Trans.). (Original work published 1884). Web.

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