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Posts Tagged ‘Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy’

“pace” in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 16, 2007

·    Leisurely pace …This way Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina communicates immediately that this is not a novel about pace, but will proceed in a leisurely manner to wend its way through the lives and relationships of the many characters.  ·     Anna Karenina is widely regarded as the best novel ever written. So I’ve read over 400 pages, with another 400 to go, and I’ve had enough. The story is slow, boring even, with very little happening, and characters that are not gripping. Actually, it’s one long slow soap opera.   ·     Tolstoy’s descriptions of places are remarkable. His interior monologues are often revealing, although too frequent and too long for my taste.  ·     Bored, I have put Anna Karenina aside to be picked up later.

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* “beginnings” in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 15, 2007

                      

  • opening sentence … “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” From which we know that this is going to be a story about unhappy families (more than one). 
  • opening scene … Tolstoy starts (p.1) with the Oblonskys, Prince Stepan (Stiva) and Princess Darya (Dolly), who are not the main characters. 

      Q: Are there successful examples in more modern novels of this use of secondary characters to begin the story?

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“character” in Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 15, 2007

·    Karenin … a pathetic character, unable to act in furtherance of his own wishes, but motivated only to avoid being embarrassed by his professional and social associates.  ·    Stiva has no money. Tolstoy shows this, when Dolly asks him for money for clothes for the children … “Tell them I’ll pay.” The reader knows he won’t. He is spending his money to buy a necklace for his actress girlfriend.  ·     “I haven’t stopped thinking about death,” said Levin. “It’s true that it’s time to die. And that everything is nonsense. I’ll tell you truly: I value my thought and my work terribly, but in essence – think about it – this whole world of ours is just a bit of mildew that grew over a tiny plane. And we think we can have something great – thoughts, deed! They’re all grains of sand … Once you understand it clearly, everything becomes insignificant. Once you understand that you’ll die today or tomorrow and they’ll be nothing left, everything becomes so insignificant … So you spend your life diverted by hunting or work in order not to think about death.”  Q: How does Tolstoy have Levin adjust these depressing thoughts to marry Kitty and have a life? A: he sees Kitty and instantly reverses everything. Characters do this often in this on-going soap opera.  ·    from Mailer – The Spooky Art  … Tolstoy is a great writer – maybe he is our greatest novelist – because no other can match his sense of human proportion. Tolstoy teaches us that compassion is of value and enriches our lives only when it is severe – when we can perceive everything that is good and bad about a character but are still able to feel that the sum is probably a little more good than awful.

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