Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Our July Discussions!

1886 Edition
Thanks to all for a terrific series of discussions last week.  Many of your comments were tweeted and have been compiled in the previous post, below.  A few other thoughts:

  • The painting section was great - Vronsky as a dabbling aristocrat.  Either you get art or you don't.
  • The question of how to manage people is still relevant.  
  • The English aristocracy is different from the Russian - the English occasionally pretend to care about their servants, the poor, etc.
  • "Women's education gets confused with emancipation." - a favorite quote
  • Levin's brother's death is a demonstration of the differing domains of Kitty and Levin - they each have their work that they will dive into.
  • In Tolstoy's initial creation, Anna was much more fully described; she was overweight, vulgar.  In her permanent incarnation much of the psychological detail has fallen away.  Why?
  • Tolstoy is a writer who can give with one hand and take away with the other.
  • Why did Anna refuse the divorce when it was offered?  Is she wishy-washy?
  • Anna is guilty of using magical thinking (like a child...)
  • And speaking of children, Anna likes the idea of her son more than the real thing.
  • Did Vronsky really attempt to kill himself?  Did he truly want to die?
  • Lidia Ivanovna is a frenemy.
  • Nicholas Levin's partner, Marya Nikolaevna, is pushed aside when Kitty arrives.  
  • And about those moths... they are a distraction, a game, they represent decay, a predatory insect, or perhaps, Tolstoy was writing by candlelight and had moths on his mind.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What is with the moths?

In part four, chapter five, Karenin goes to visit a lawyer to discuss divorce.  The thing that stuck with me about that visit over anything else was the moths flying around the office.  The lawyer "with a swiftness that could never have been expected of him, opened his hands, caught the moth, and resumed his former attitude" p. 419.  The moth catching happens at least three more times in that chapter.  So, all you smart people, what is it with the moths?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I'm still taken with the idea of duel between Alexy Karenin and Count Vronsky.  What a great way to solve a problem...as long as you are Vronsky and feeling very confident of the outcome.  Karenin, not so devoted to this type of problem solving.  Number 1, he is a successful administrator so not accustomed to the ides of dueling as a form of negotiation.  Number 2, by my reading he seems to be an out-of-shape old man, way past the physical prime that he may or may not have once enjoyed. Number 3, even though Karenin wants things to appear "proper", he really doesn't have much "fight" in him for Anna.

Take a look at this Infographic I found that gives more information about Russian duels:

The rules and etiquette of a Russian duel

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/infographics/20120213/171286087.html#ixzz3fuO65kyK

Is anyone out there longing for the return of the duel?