Anna Karenina Fridays Week 2


This week for the Anna Karenina Read-along hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables, I completed my reading of Part I and read the first eight chapters of Part II.  If you wish to participate in the read-along, take a look at this week’s post!  This week, some questions have been posed outside of the discussion questions from last week.  Without further ado, here are the questions, and I will answer all of them this week!

  • What do you think so far about the women we’ve met, especially in terms of the culture/society they are in?

    Answer:  The women are very gossipy and partake in a lot of social/cultural events.  I accept this behavior as a large part of noble life, not only in czarist Russia, but in my readings of British literature of the same time period.  They talk about marriage, children, politics, opinions of men, and their thoughts of others in their social circle.  The gossipy nature of these women tell us a lot of how women in czarist Russia conducted themselves socially, and that’s very important to understanding how cultural changes were effected in Russia.  There are grand ideals of women choosing their husbands without arranged marriages, and while the idea is expressed that love certainly can be found in non-arranged marriages, the concept seems to be dismissed as arranged marriages are the norm, especially amongst the nobility.
  • Are you finding clashing ideals in your reading?

    Answer:  Yes, I am finding clashing ideals.  For example, you have instances of infidelity in marriage, and you have Anna coming to assist her brother Stiva, and then is certainly on the path of infidelity herself.  And while marriage seems to be described as something of a noble affair in czarist Russia, it’s clear that while it’s not publicly accepted, privately it very much is.  It appears to be an accepted practice that some married women will even stray, and that comes as a result of arranged marriages and perhaps not really loving their husbands.
  • Do you look for Truth-with-a-Capital-T in your fiction? Does this statement resonate with the chapters you’ve read so far?

    Answer:  Sometimes I do, yes.  In particular with classical literature, you can see some truth of that particular culture at that moment in time.  Especially if you’re reading Dickens, Austen, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky.  In Anna Karenina, you can tell most of court/social life takes place in St. Petersburg, which was established as more of the capital during Peter the Great’s reign.  Tolstoy specifically mentions how much more open, and airy the atmosphere is in St. Petersburg, vice Moscow the traditional capital.  Classical literature is really the only area that I look for truth in my fiction.
  • It is a generally held opinion that Levin is a stand-in for Tolstoy himself. Do you think it’s a courageous depiction? Self-deprecating?  Fill in the blank?

    Answer:  I don’t think it’s necessarily a courageous depiction, as more of an honest one.  It also isn’t the first time and author has depicted himself in a novel.  However, in czarist Russia, the authors weren’t as free as say in England, to write as freely.  I think in this case, Tolstoy is starting to begin to describe what he thinks is an ideal man in czarist Russia of the time.

The story continues to be quite fascinating, and I’m really enjoying it so far!

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About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

2 Responses to “Anna Karenina Fridays Week 2”

  1. I just finished my write up and I got to your post in my reader, and I think we agree on every single point!
    There were some passages that I struggled through, but overall I’m enjoying it :]

  2. Really interesting perspectives, Jeremy — especially your thoughts on Levin as Tolstoy. I know nothing about Russian culture or history at this point. I’m finding it fascinating to explore through Tolstoy.

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