Anna Karenina - Oxford, 2014


How much do I want to read more? 8/10

I can't believe I'm opening, and actually reading this "monument" of the litterature. This one thousand pages book. Not as long as War and Peace, but still.
I probably won't read it cover to cover, but only starting reading it feels great and special. Every word, every sentence, paragraph feels like entering into history.
My particular interest is this book is one of Osho's favorite book. And it was written with the author obsession' "how to live".
It also has this famous opening sentence that every book on writing quote as an example.

Surprinsigly, the beginning is not boring. We start right in the middle of a dispute that brings confusion in the family.
Normal would be boring. Here nothing is normal, and yet we can relate. The shame, the harsh words, the emotions, anger. Keeping distance, mistrust, betrayal. Everything is there in the first few pages of the first short, and engaging chapter.
I want to read more.


INTRODUCTION

Readers who do not wish to learn details of the plot will prefer to treat the Introduction as an Afterword.

ANNA KARENINA, one of the world’s greatest novels, and with justification regarded by many as Tolstoy’s finest artistic work, also marks the culmination of his career as a professional writer. Begun in 1873, when the author was 45 years old, it resumes and develops themes explored in previous works, most notably the epic War and Peace, which he had embarked on ten years earlier.

These themes, which may be subsumed under the central question ‘how to live?’, are explored with a pressing urgency in Anna Karenina, for Tolstoy was increasingly overcome during the novel’s protracted composition by an existential despair which is reflected in its closing pages.

PART ONE

1

ALL happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Everything was confusion in the Oblonskys’ house.
The wife had found out that the husband was having an affair with the French governess. and had announced to the husband that she could not live with him in the same house.
The members of the family and the household all felt there was no point in their living together and that people meeting by chance at any coaching inn had more connection to each other than they did.

On the third day after the quarrel, Prince Stiva woke up at the usual time, eight o’clock. "what was going on?’ he thought, remembering his dream.
‘Yes, it was good, very good. There was a lot of other excellent stuff in it too, but you couldn’t put it into words or express it in thoughts even if you were awake.’
And that was when he suddenly remembered how and why he came to be sleeping in his study rather than his wife’s bedroom; the smile vanished from his face and his brow became furrowed.
‘Oh, oh, oh! O-o-oh! …’ he groaned, as he remembered everything that had happened. And once again all the details of the quarrel with his wife, the utter hopelessness of his situation, and, most agonizing of all, his own guilt, loomed into his imagination.

‘Yes! She won’t forgive me and can’t forgive me. And the worst thing of all is that the blame is all mine, all mine, and yet I’m not to blame. That’s the whole tragedy of it,’ he thought.

Most unpleasant of all had been that first moment when, after returning happy and contented from the theatre, with an enormous pear in his hand for his wife, he had not found her. and had finally caught sight of her in the bedroom, with the unfortunate note which revealed everything in her hand.
She was sitting motionless with the note in her hand, and looking at him with an expression of horror, despair, and anger.

What happened to him at that moment was what happens to people when they are unexpectedly caught out doing something thoroughly shameful. He had not managed to compose his face to suit the situation in which he now found himself in front of his wife after the revelation of his guilt.
Instead of taking offence, denying everything, asking for forgiveness, or even remaining impassive—anything would have been better than what he did!—his face had suddenly broken quite involuntarily into his usual, good-natured and therefore stupid smile.
He could not forgive himself that stupid smile. When she saw that smile, Dolly had flinched as if from physical pain, exploded with her usual hot temper into a torrent of harsh words, and run out of the room. Since then she had not wanted to see her husband.
‘That stupid smile is to blame for everything,’ thought Stepan Arkadyich. ‘But what is to be done? What is to be done?’ he asked himself in despair, and could find no answer.

2