Anna Karenina Friday – Week Nine


This week for the Anna Karenina read-along hosted by Wallace at Unputdownables, I read up to Part VI Chapter XX.  This week’s reading dealt more with country living, i.e., Levin’s estate and the social aspects of living in the country.

That’s one of the main ideas I want to talk about this evening, is Levin and how he approaches love during this section of reading.  Levin has all kinds of guests at his estate, in-laws, and of course, a new character in the form of Vassenka Veslovsky.  Vassenka Veslovsky takes an immediate interest in Levin’s wife Kitty.  I found Levin’s jealousy to be quite powerful in this section of the reading.  It was literally driving Levin to a point of anger.  Eventually, Levin asked Veslovsky to leave his estate, he was that bothered with the situation.

While this jealousy caused Levin to act in a rude matter, I think this scene of events is important in the grand scheme of Tolstoy’s message of love.  It strikes me that while Kitty is pregnant, it’s a more pure type of love, a love that shouldn’t be tainted by an outside party by Veslovsky’s moves on Kitty.  It was clear that Levin didn’t want another Anna/Vronsky situation on his hands.

The final point I want to make this evening deals with the relationship between Varenka and Sergei Ivanovich.  As we read in earlier sections, Sergei had been hurt by the death of a woman he was very much in love with.  Varenka seems to me of something of a piteous person.   He ultimately decides not to ask for her hand in marriage.  Was I overly surprised?  Yes.  Would my reaction had changed if they had agreed to wed?  Probably not.  With Ivanovich unable to let go of his past by remaining committed to the memory of his beloved Marie, and Varenka’s piety, they are leading empty lives.  They have essentially stopped living, in my opinion, and are incapable of loving anyone else, and essentially their lives are over.  It’s unfortunate too.

This week’s reading was chock full of cultural references as well.  While I enjoy the cultural portion of this book, I felt that this week’s section may have gone a bit overboard.  I’m looking forward to seeing more about Anna and Vronsky, and getting to see more of Tolstoy’s belief on what love and marriage should look like.

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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!

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