This study examines one of the recurrent themes in Russian literature. It deals with the presentation of death in L.N. Tolstoy's narratives. Whereas the majority of critics have dealt with this topic from a philosophical and religious perspective, this study attempts to analyse its artistic, that is, its thematic and stylistic aspects. In approaching this complex theme, the author distinguishes between major modes and submodes of death (natural vs. violent, potentiality vs. materialization) to provide some of the elementary components of a «poetics» of death. The results of this study underline Tolstoy's artistic sophistication in the presentation of this eternal, yet complex subject.