Daily Archives: June 25, 2010

Reading Anna Karenina Part 3

From now on, I’d like to say in advance that these posts on Anna Karenina are to be read on your own risk, they might include minor spoilers.

Remember last week when I said that the parts in which Tolstoy has one of the characters reflect on things like agriculture were never quite long enough to get on my nerves? Well, part three changed that for me. Levin’s thoughts on agriculture and how European reforms might not work in Russia were long. Very long. I am not sure if I would wish to reread this part of the novel any time soon.

However, it did not make me dislike Levin. I actually still like him most. It intrigues me that he takes the time to consider the position the workers and he himself are in. And I do think these considerations might be interesting if I had known more about communist thought and other opinions on agriculture at the time. Unfortunately, socio-economic history has never been my forte.

What annoys me a little about Levin is how easily he sometimes seems to give up his own feelings. Somewhere near the end of part three I just wanted to shake him and make him realise he loves Kitty already. I’m not exactly sure why, but I really want them to end up together in a happy manner.

As for Anna and Karenin, I am still unsure. Karenin’s considerations in not divorcing Karenina seemed selfish in that he seems to only consider his reputation. However, I still cannot blame him because Anna’s selfishness keeps getting on my nerves too much.

There was one paragraph on children in this part of the novel that struck a chord with me. When I am around children I am often afraid that they will think I am “pretending” in the manner Tolstoy explains here. This awareness makes me even more self-conscious and this of course leads to actual pretending:

“Though the children did not know Levin well and did not remember when they had last seen him, they did not feel toward him any of that strange shyness and antagonism so often felt by children toward grown-up people who ‘pretend,’ which causes them to suffer painfully. Pretence about anything sometimes deceives the wisest and shrewdest man, but, however cunningly it is hidden, a child of the meanest capacity feels it and is repelled by it.”