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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:17 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Green Jay wrote:
TheRejectAmidHair wrote:
I have come across far too many simplistic views of the work – the most common simplification being that of Anna as a passionate woman who rebels against the values of society by having an affair and walking away from her loveless marriage to a dry and pompous bureaucrat and is punished by society for doing so … etc. etc. It’s good to come across someone writing about this novel who acknowledges and understands these subtleties and complexities.

But from the film I did find Anna & Vronksy rather tawdry ('E's not worth it, luv!') and felt more for Karenin than before, even from reading the first chapters which feature him a lot. I also noted strongly in the film how hypocritical some of the men were, having their bits on the side and that being ok, and how hawk-eyed society was.

Hello GJ,

I can't comment on the film, of course, not having seen it. But as Kaufman says in his article, any film adaptation is but an interpretation of the novel itself.

Tolstoy's characterisations are so complex and so intricate, that I find myself feeling for every character: throughout the novel we are presented in various forms that terrible and irresoluble paradox that individual people, being what they are, cannot really help what they do - that they are driven for the most part by forces beyond either their control or their understanding; and yet, everyone is morally responsible for their actions, and must take full responsibility for them. It is from this terrible paradox that the tragedy springs. There is communicated a sense of terror lying immediately beneath the façades of our everyday lives.

Stiva is the philanderer: he likes his "bits on the side". Funnily enough, he isn't a hypocrite: he knows what he is, and he is actually honest in acknowledging to himself that he is no longer in love with his wife now that she is no longer pretty, and, indeed, now that she is prematurely old and worn out with childbearing and with household duties. Of course, Stiva's actions are entirely reprehensible, and his wife, Dolly, seems to me as tragic a figure in her own way as is Anna. But Tolstoy, being Tolstoy, has to probe into Stiva's mind as well, and find even in his shallowness subtleties and complexities that would, I think, have eluded any other novelist.

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