Everyone says Anna Karenina is about individual desire going against society, but I actually think the opposite is stronger: the way societal forces limit the expression of the individual.
Posts Tagged: tolstoy
At The Millions, Jonathan Russell Clark analyzes several last sentences from well-known novels by Hemingway, Tolstoy, Morrison, and Roth. He pays particular attention to the craftsmanship necessary to write these sentences, and considers how last sentences work to reinforce larger themes within a novel:
For writers, the last sentences aren’t about reader responsibility at all — it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop worrying about what comes next, because nothing does.
For the New York Times‘s Bookends column, authors Charles McGrath and Leslie Jamison share their thoughts about what they perceive to be the best portrayals of marriage in literature. While McGrath argues that the more interesting literary marriages tend to be unhappy and failing, Jamison explores relationships within Jack Gilbert’s poems, which characterize love “as a state of seeking, rather than having.”...more
So now, 125 years after Kreutzer’s 1889 publication, Tolstoy’s wife gets to have her say.
Sofiya Tolstoy, indignant about the violent and misogynistic plot of her husband’s The Kreutzer Sonata, wrote a novella in response to the book from the female’s character point of view....more
For the New York Times, Francine Prose and Benjamin Moser share their experiences reading 19th century Russian literature. While Prose shows an appreciation for the timeless themes of Tolstoy and Gogol, Moser contends that what makes 19th century Russian writers distinctive is the way their work “echoed their particular national history.”...more
Writer Michael Harris discusses digital distraction and reading War and Peace at Salon:
But there’s a religious certainty required in order to devote yourself to one thing while cutting off the rest of the world. We don’t know that the inbox is emergency-free, we don’t know that the work we’re doing is the work we ought to be doing.
More people were reading Tolstoy than any other author in translation at the beginning of the 20th century, but as late as the 1880s, few non-Russians had even heard of him. Translators were deterred partly because of the length of his works and complexities of language, not to mention his overwhelming Russian-ness....more
Péter Nádas’s Parallel Stories illustrates the haphazard, psychological violence of a century of ideology, disruption, and the search for the meaning of personal freedom....more
Like Proust, David Mitchell examines how the incidents of a person’s life fit together, how the different parts of the world come to form one world....more
Elif Batuman offers a rogue’s gallery of Russian writers, scholars, and literary characters—the only oddball missing is herself....more
A few weeks ago, I went to a dermatologist to have something on my nose removed. He said less than two sentences to me, asked me one question he didn’t listen to the answer to, ignored my protests, had a nurse hold me down, stuck a large needle in my nose with no warning, and then dug the thing out with a scalpel even though the anesthesia was barely working....more
An anthology of stories from the new Russia shows the continuity between contemporary writers and their canonical predecessors...more
Roberto Bolaño’s überbook inspires a speed-read through literary history....more