Category Archives: Tolstoy, Leo

“And such is the meaning of all existence!” Levin and Anna Karenina

If Anna represents the futility of material striving–of seeking lasting happiness through pursuing her own immediate needs–perhaps Levin represents spiritual striving. At any rate, that’s the best I’ve come up with so far as I ponder the relationship between the two major plots of Anna Karenina. In Levin’s epiphanic musings towards the end of the […]

“I want to love and to live”: More Anna Karenina

I finished Anna Karenina yesterday–or, I should say, I finished Anna Karenina for the first time: it’s so large and complicated, and also so alien, so unfamiliar, to me that I hardly feel I’ve really read it yet. It was an odd, engrossing, and somewhat frustrating experience working my way through it. Despite its sprawl […]

More Anna Karenina: What About Love?

Well, that was abrupt. Here I thought that this novel told a great love story, and instead we seem to have stumbled into a love affair with no good reason. Not that Anna and Vronsky don’t have their reasons, but we hardly know what they are or why we should care when all of a sudden […]

Getting Started with Anna Karenina

When I posted about Madame Bovary a few months ago, I remarked on the oddity of reading a very famous book for the first time–it is, I said, “intensely familiar and yet strange at the same time. . . it is no longer an idea of something but the thing itself.” My posts on Madame Bovary show […]

E-Reading Tolstoy

A while back I was wishing I could be reading Tolstoy: Amateur Reading was reporting on Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, while at The Millions, Kevin Hartnett wrote about his experience reading War and Peace: The night I finished reading about Borodino, it was plainly obvious that I had just read something great.  Yet here I was […]

Reading Tolstoy

I’m not, but these posts really make me wish I were. It was Early Tolstoy Week recently at Wuthering Expectations, beginning with Chldhood, Boyhood, Youth: It’s Tolstoy’s first novel, yet is so Tolstoyan. The obsession with death, for example, the way death mingles with life. In Chapter 23 of Boyhood the children are all sent […]

Just Briefly…

I hope to write a proper post soon on the combined efforts of Audrey Niffenegger and Sarah Waters to make me believe in ghosts (or not). In the meantime, I thought this was as nice a suggestion about the difference that marks out “literature” from other written texts as I’ve seen: Art that is not […]

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