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Anna Karenina

Discussion in 'History & Literature' started by Huxley, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. Huxley

    Huxley Active Member

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    Another topic for the highly literary members of this forum to enjoy. I'm sure this thread will be a hotbed of opinion and debate.

    I first read this beauty many years ago and gave it another go recently (always justified).

    Despite the book's title, it's is actually about two people, Anna Karenina, and Konstantin Levin.

    I once read a review of the book which suggested that when young people read the novel, they are predominantly concerned with Anna's story, but when they read the novel again years later, with mature, world weary eyes, it is Levin's story that begins to resonate with them. To me, this is a rather self-congratulatory simplification. The truth is, I think the complete opposite is true.

    When I was young, Levin's journey was far more interesting to me, full of profound questions about life, and meaning, and philosophy, and purpose. Meanwhile, Anna was just some silly girl who fell in love then offed herself because... boo hoo. I frankly had little interest in her and considered Levin, and his search for a place in the world, to be a significantly more powerful narrative.

    Now, with those aforementioned mature eyes, I have entirely changed my mind. If anything, Levin is a spoiled child, privileged by his gender to pursue various self-indulgent interests and distractions, his freedom being the very thing that permits him to explore such meandering concerns while the world, struggling to continue beside him, plods along as normal. Anna, on the other hand, is caged by social circumstances, she cannot be who she wants to be, nor love who she wants to love. Life is designed by others and portioned off to those willing to commit to the expectations of class, gender and education. Anna must await, with baited breath, the permission of others before she can take any ownership of her existence. And, ultimately, she concludes that death is the only escape.

    Both stories have their compelling moments, and I was slightly disappointed that they met (or that their meeting was so... underwhelming), but I suppose Tolstoy was making a point there too, one which pivoted on the very different journeys these two people were making.

    It is a truly spectacular novel, one which requires, deserves, several readings. A masterpiece.
     
    TLC likes this.

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