The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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2018/19 Group Reads - Archives > The Kreutzer Sonata - Chapters 8 - 14

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message 1: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4504 comments Mod
I’m sure our moderator will be out here shortly. In the meantime, you can continue the discussion here.


message 2: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2229 comments Mod
Apologies for the delay. I read ahead of time but went out of town before updating.

In this section, we get a more detailed analysis and critique of male/female relations in society. The woman is "either a slave in a bazaar or bait in a trap". She is humiliated and she is the queen. The discussion of how dangerous it is for men to see a woman's shoulders in her ball gown reminded me of fundamentalist views from Amish to Orthodox Jews to the Taliban. Pozduishef seems to admire those who abstain from sex and doesn't see the perpetuation of the human race as a necessary end.

What do you think of this diatribe? Are these just excuses for his own bad behavior? While he seems to pity women in general, he has none for his own wife. How do you think the story would go if the wife were narrating it?


message 3: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4504 comments Mod
I wondered what the women would think of all of this as well. Also how does he reconcile his belief that it’s okay for the human race to not continue with his belief that the only function of women is motherhood? Also social restrictions on women are not taken into account when he speaks about women trolling for husbands


message 4: by Linda (new)

Linda | 230 comments Great questions. I'm not sure how he reconciles his own behavior with his views. And a good point, Robin, I wonder if he could be using it at an excuse to justify how the murder came about. As someone mentioned in the previous thread, perhaps this way of telling his story to a stranger he met on the train who he will likely never see again is his way of relieving himself of any possible guilt he feels from what he did. Tell his story and justify that he was put in that position by society, then hopefully get a "pass" by whomever he told.

As to the story as a whole so far, while I was surprised and interested by the directness of Pozduishef's narrative in relating his story to the woman on the train in the first week's chapters, I am not finding myself as pulled into the story in the way it is being presented. Unfortunately, a large part of the story feels like an essay and it's not keeping my interest. I'm glad that it's short, though, so I will continue to see how it wraps up.


message 5: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2229 comments Mod
I agree, this part was very didactic. And I just realized the guilty party confessing his story reminds me of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner with the listener playing the part of the wedding guest required to hear the tale.


message 6: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1439 comments Mod
Even if Pozduishef is not religious himself, he grew up in a religious culture, and he knew that Christianity frowns on sex outside of marriage. He had a lot of sex while "knowing" it was wrong, and then he got married. He is not able to make a distinction between sex with his wife and sex with the women he was not married to, so he now feels that sex is dirty in general, and that it makes women dirty. So, his mind ended up messed up in that area.


message 7: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4504 comments Mod
Lori wrote: "Even if Pozduishef is not religious himself, he grew up in a religious culture, and he knew that Christianity frowns on sex outside of marriage. He had a lot of sex while "knowing" it was wrong, an..."

Yes and he seems to put the blame on the women for his behavior as they are temptresses and men can’t control themselves


message 8: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1936 comments Mod
This certainly reads like a demonstration of the age old issue of some men finding a way to blame women for their bad behaviour!


message 9: by Lori, Moderator (last edited Jun 16, 2018 03:50PM) (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1439 comments Mod
Frances wrote: "This certainly reads like a demonstration of the age old issue of some men finding a way to blame women for their bad behaviour!"

Yep! It does. Do you think Tolstoy believed this? Since other discussions point to parts of this book being semi-autobiographical.


message 10: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2229 comments Mod
It seems he became very puritanical/ascetic late in life. He portrayed love so sweetly in War and Peace and passionately in Anna Karenina, and here he is disgusted with all relations between men and women.


message 11: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4504 comments Mod
Lori wrote: "Frances wrote: "This certainly reads like a demonstration of the age old issue of some men finding a way to blame women for their bad behaviour!"

Yep! It does. Do you think Tolstoy believed this? ..."


I agree with Frances and Lori. And yes it did become his belief system.


message 12: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2941 comments Mod
The narrator is supercritical of women and completely off base. He is so negative and does not know the meaning of the word "Love".
And this from the man who created Anna, Natasha and Kitty, among others.

I have not found such negativity in the other works of Tolstoy that I have read and am disappointed with the novella so far.


message 13: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4504 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "The narrator is supercritical of women and completely off base. He is so negative and does not know the meaning of the word "Love".
And this from the man who created Anna, Natasha and Kitty, among ..."


I completely agree. I’m shocked by this novella because the philosophy is anti-woman but also doesn’t make sense from a logical perspective.


message 14: by Lori, Moderator (new)

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1439 comments Mod
Same here. It's a pretty depressing read.


message 15: by Linda (new)

Linda | 230 comments We’ll shoot, I wish I had not returned my library book yesterday. It had a section in the back titled Sequel to Kreutzer Sonata where Tolstoy responds to questions and discusses the themes he presented in the book, along with his personal views. I only briefly glanced through the pages, and not really enough to summarize here. I wonder if it can easily be found online?


message 16: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  | 798 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "We’ll shoot, I wish I had not returned my library book yesterday. It had a section in the back titled Sequel to Kreutzer Sonata where Tolstoy responds to questions and discusses the themes he prese..."

Linda, if you have not found the book online yet, it is available at Project Gutenberg.


message 17: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  | 798 comments Mod
I'm behind in my reading and just finished this section this morning. From what I read in this section Pozduishef comes across as hugely egocentric. He thinks he's figured out the love, marriage, and society in general, and believes that his "truth" is everyone's truth. I find him jaded and while I can acknowledge that some of his minor point may be correct, stringing everything together the way he has... he couldn't be any farther from the truth.

By the time Tolstoy read this he had a religious conversion and his marriage was terribly contemptuous. To me, it's as if he's writing by holding up a mirror.


message 18: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2941 comments Mod
So true, Gem. He really understands very little about love and marriage. His attitude is poisonous. Does he want everyone to be as unhappy as he is?


message 19: by Linda (new)

Linda | 230 comments ⊱✿Gem✿⊰ wrote: "Linda, if you have not found the book online yet, it is available at Project Gutenberg."

Thank you, Gem. I always forget about Project Gutenberg. Anyway, I did find the sequel online and posted the link in the last week's discussion thread.


message 20: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  | 798 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "So true, Gem. He really understands very little about love and marriage. His attitude is poisonous. Does he want everyone to be as unhappy as he is?"

Some people love to wallow in misery and want to pull everyone else down into that nastiness.


message 21: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  | 798 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "⊱✿Gem✿⊰ wrote: "Linda, if you have not found the book online yet, it is available at Project Gutenberg."

Thank you, Gem. I always forget about Project Gutenberg. Anyway, I did find the sequel onli..."


Sure! Project Gutenberg is where I usually find my classics. I'm not sure why but in the two library systems we belong to here the classics are limited in availability.


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