Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tolstoy Scholar Elizabeth Blake

It was great to hear Elizabeth Blake's lecture last night entitled Falling in and out of Love with Anna Karenina.  Many thanks to her for giving us much to think about, and to all those who attended and asked thoughtful questions.  I scribbled lots of notes, and hope that others who were present can add what they learned by commenting below.  (And I couldn't resist these lovely photos from the website of the State Museum of Tolstoy's estate at Yasnaya Polyana.)

Yasnaya Polyana

  • The first thing I learned from Dr Blake is that I have never pronounced the author's name correctly. She says tol-STOY, with emphasis on the second syllable.  I plan to practice.
  • Levin is considered the 2nd protagonist of the novel, and a double for Tolstoy himself.
  • Tolstoy was never banned by the Soviets, unlike Dostoevsky and others.
  • There are subtle ways throughout the novel in which Tolstoy's affection towards Anna seems to shift, and in which he communicates this to the reader:
    •  In Love:  Anna's masses of dark curls are her own, whereas Kitty and Dolly use artificial hair extensions.  (Kitty's father comments on this when trying to pat Kitty on the head.)  
    • Out of Love:  Anna is from St Petersburg, where the society is vacuous, rather than Moscow, where the true nobility of Russia resides.
  • Other examples? Please comment below and add your thoughts!

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