Long time, no see, blogosphere. It’s been over three weeks since I’ve last posted, but I was keeping busy with work, sun, and — most importantly — reading. I finally finished reading Anna Karenina yesterday morning, and it is time that I put my initial thoughts on the book in writing.
Anna, the symbol of pleasure, is a character I know all too well. Throughout the whole story I found her to be undeniably and resolutely the same as myself. However, the chapters depicting her mental breakdown before her suicide is the exact emotional state and train of thought that has looped through my mind on countless occasions. Her death sealed the deal for me; Anna’s soul and mine are cousins. The reason that I don’t believe them to be the same is because I have found something that Anna never did. I have found what Levin discovered at the very end of the book. So, my soul is a combination of both Levin and Anna, although growing more and more like Levin’s each day.
Nothing could have ended the book more truthfully than Anna’s suicide. It is perfectly in line with her character and demonstrates exactly what Tolstoy wanted: Pleasure and pain are inextricably linked, and “it is all meaningless” (p. 817). Although I’m not sure I like Part 8, and, more specifically, the last chapter of the novel, I do believe that Tolstoy created a brilliant, nearly faultless novel. Every scene, every plot piece, and every character was necessary. Without one piece of it, the full meaning of the story would have been lost.
I will eventually have to go back and analyze the text more closely for my own amusement, but this first reading of the story was both engaging and moving. As a story, entertaining. As political satire, scathing and truthful. As art, brilliant. As the culminating work of Tolstoy’s soul, moving. It is worth a close read for anyone who fancies themselves a literature nerd, artist, or sensitive soul. Knowing the story simply because it’s famous or watching the movie would not do this piece of work justice. It is a must read, cover to cover.