Dia's Reviews > Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
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May 03, 08

Read in May, 2008

What turned out to be the most interesting to me as I devoured this lush book was Tolstoy's amazing ability to show how we change our minds, or how our minds just do change -- how enamored we become of a person, a place, a whole population, an idea, an ideal -- and then how that great love, which seemed so utterly meaningful and complete, sours or evaporates just days, hours, or even minutes later -- in short, how truly fickle we are. And at the same time, each of the characters was in some way stable -- they had their particular drives, their needs, their anxieties, which gave their changing passions some kind of coherence and thus gave themselves their "selves."

Tolstoy's ability to capture the tiny thoughts that the characters themselves were perhaps unaware of -- preconscious material consisting largely of rationalizations and fears, but also sometimes of genuine compassion -- and to present these thoughts with precision, subtle irony, and tenderness -- was a great delight. (He deals in this preconscious material rather than in unconscious material -- there is nothing symbolic or metaphorical in his writing -- he writes quite naturally of "things as they are." My partner and I enjoyed contrasting him with Kafka.)

I also am very glad that I read an unabridged version. Some of my favorite parts of the book didn't involve the title character -- I loved the mowing and hunting sections -- these were the parts where true joy (and meaning, as Levin finds) were found. And I think these are the parts not included in abridged versions.
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message 2: by Felicia (new)

Felicia Oh golly, Miss Dia, you have joined the ranks of "all of my friends turn into shrinks". That is a compliment and it's not backhanded even though it probably sounds that way. Also, I received your wedding invite -- Mazel Tov! And am hoping to be there, even though I haven't sent my card back (I just moved, and it's misplaced in the jumble). Our minds DO change, don't they? Perhaps this is why I'm a great love of the stalk, of the unattainable -- so I never have to feel the sourage. Something that never is never spoils -- or, at least its shelf life is usually longer.


Nedal Great review. Really captured how I feel about this book.


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