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Group Read Archive 2014 > The Kreutzer Sonata -Chapters 1-10 (May 1 -May 10)

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message 1: by Silver (last edited May 03, 2014 08:02AM) (new)

Silver Sorry for the delay but I have been a bit under the weather, and then yesterday there was some glitch and I couldn't get on Goodreads all day.

Here you may discuss chapters 1-10 of the Kreutzer Sonata. Please be aware if you have not completed these chapters spoilers may be posted here.

message 2: by MK (new)

MK (wisny) | 17 comments I am reading this free Kindle book: The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Short Stories by Leo Tolstoy The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Short Stories by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Benjamin R. Tucker.

It includes:
- The Translator's Preface, to 3%
- The Kreutzer Sonata, to 53%
- Lesson of "The Kreutzer Sonata.", by Leo Tolstoi, to 56%
- Ivan the Fool, to 73%
- A Lost Opportunity, to 84%
- Polikushka, to 94%
- The Candle, to 100%

I've read "The Kreutzer Sonata" thru Chapter X. It's pretty raw, and intense. So far, a conversation on a train, about marriage, women's rights, men's rights, and expectations.

The people are the narrator, a lawyer, a woman, the conductor, & Posdnicheff - a man who killed his wife.

message 3: by MK (last edited May 04, 2014 07:44PM) (new)

MK (wisny) | 17 comments I am reading War & Peace with another group. I fear reading this novella is going to spoil that epic for me. Tolstoy is diminishing the more I read, IMO

I saw mentioned on a blog that Sonia, Tolstoy's wife wrote a response to The Kreutzer Sonata. Has anyone heard of that, or is familiar with the title?

I'd love to read that after, I think!

message 4: by Larry (new)

Larry Wang I've already read The Kreutzer Sonata some years ago and I enjoyed it. That being said, I think some (particularly women) will be offended by it, as many have criticized this novel for its sexism.

message 5: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah | 2 comments My reaction to the first ten chapters is quite mixed. At this point it's certainly far from my favorite of Tolstoy's works. I find the monologue as narrative device rather dull. Plus I am already feeling a bit put off by the moralizing and sexism. That said, I have been intrigued by the way in which Posdnicheff compares the positions and advantages of men versus women. His recognition that men may behave just about any way they please (particularly sexually) without concern for their reputations--or indeed even their very moral beings--while women are expected to remain chaste and pure, seems well ahead of its time. And while he blames women for the power he believes their sensuality allows them to hold over men (an argument that makes my blood begin to boil), Posdnicheff also acknowledges the inequality inherent in the situation whereby women must put themselves on display to be gazed upon, and ultimately chosen by, men. The mere fact that he recognizes that this new (at the time) approach to marriage-- the choosing of one's spouse based on "love"-- does not place women on more equal footing with men is rather remarkable for its time. Of course Posdnicheff is not actually arguing for true equality between the sexes when it comes to selecting a spouse. Instead he seems to want a return to arranged marriages, which themselves are hardly bastions of gender equality. Still, for a work that has been so resoundingly derided for its sexism, I have been surprised to find at least some degree of subtlety in the examination of gender relations.

message 6: by MK (new)

MK (wisny) | 17 comments Fair criticisms, too, Lawrence, lol.

Rebekah, there is an underlying complexity and layering, it's horrifyingly fascinating. I've read the next chunk of chapters already tho, so I'm not sure now which section my reactions/comments best pertain to. I'll probably finish the last chunk today.

My kindle story collection does include another small section by Tolstoy, written later:

Lesson of "The Kreutzer Sonata.", by Leo Tolstoi, 53% to 56% of kindle text

I'll be interested in what he says there. But I'm FAR more interested in finding/reading a copy of his wife's response to "The Kreutzer Sonata".

message 7: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah | 2 comments MK, I've done some digging, and while my research has certainly not been exhaustive, I think the text that is considered Sophia's response to her husband (his life and all of his writings, not just The Kreutzer Sonata) is *The Autobiography of Countess Sophie Tolstoi*. The text is available via I'm nearing the end of The Kreutzer Sonata, and once I've finished, I plan to read the autobiography (it's quite short) for some added context.

message 8: by MK (new)

MK (wisny) | 17 comments ty so much, Rebekah, that's wonderful. I will save until I finish. I appreciate it very much =)

message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisadannatt) | 37 comments Agree with your comments Rebekkah, you sum the themes up well.
Many of those themes persist today.
I'm enjoying this, not as much as Tolstoy's other works, but I do enjoy his voice.

message 10: by Mary-adele (new)

Mary-adele Allison | 2 comments I have finished the book and look forward to hearing your comments on the man's tale - the bulk of the book.

message 11: by Silver (new)

Silver I needed to finish up a few other things before I could start this one, but I am reading now and thus far I am quite enjoying it. I really liked the narrative style of setting things up by having this conversation upon a train. I am finding the story to be quite interesting thus far.

In regards to the sexism, I think that in most Russian literature (and generally speaking most 19th century literature from anywhere) there will be a degree of sexism, for me I take it as being a product of its time.

In addition while there is sexism within this book I do not necessarily feel that Tolstoy is condoning the sexism. In Posdnicheff's descriptions of his life and behavior and views, I do not really see it as an idealization of sexism or showing it in a positive light, but it is an honest reflection of the way many people lived,felt, and thought at that time.

In addition a lot of what is said within these first chapters is very reflective of Tolstoy's own life there is a certain autobiographical nature to the story.

Just as Posdnicheff in the story Tolstoy also gave his diary to Sophia Tolstaya before their marriage so she might read and know of all his past sins and of the kind of man he was.

message 12: by Mary (new)

Mary | 26 comments Posdnicheff's comparison of women in brothels and women of upper society caught my attention in chapter vi. How each uses their sexuality/allurement to get what they want from men.

message 13: by Silver (new)

Silver Yes, I found that discussion to be quite interesting, and rather amusing, because I think there is some truth within the idea, as well I think even in today's world similar ideas still exist. There are still jokes in modern sitcoms about marriage/wives being little different than prostitutes because the men still have to "pay" their wives.

I also found Chapter 9 to be interesting when Posdnicheff spoke of the power of women, because I think there was also some truth in what he was saying there as well. While there is no question that throughout most of history women have been horribly oppressed, women have always found ways to use what means they could to exert a certain amount of influence.

message 14: by Mary-adele (new)

Mary-adele Allison | 2 comments I agree that the theme is sexuality. I believe it explores not only the woman's role, but that of the man. The double-standard discussed - a man is to explore while the woman is to remain pure - still exists today. The judgment of women is still much more severe than that of men.

With regard to marriage today, women have means to be independent and self-sufficient, yet, for many, the balance and roles in the household are a struggle. Without clearly defined roles, each marriage struggles to find their own. I think this confusion is leading to some of the abuses we see today. Yet, I think there is also the opportunity for both men and women to find happiness through their marriage.

I personally think that the essence of a good marriage has been true for all ages - that both understand each other and respect each other.

I did not enjoy seeing marriage through the eyes of Tolstoy's characters.

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