Saturday, October 22, 2011

Anna Karenina Read-a-long Week 2

Alright, here we are at Week 2 of the Anna Karenina readalong.  I got a little bit behind this week, I had so much going on for school, but I managed to get the entire section read last night.  I'm going to try really hard to NOT get behind, but I have A LOT going on this week that includes 2 papers and 2 mid-terms as well as various other assignments and I'm working every day so I can't promise anything.  But, like I said, I'm going to try!
If you want to jump in on the readalong, visit this post!

**If you've never read this book, stop right here.  Skip on over it in your reader, or go to another post.  This will contain spoilers!**

I'm skipping the vlog this week, and we'll just go straight into the discussion questions that have been provided!

What do you think so far about the women we’ve met, especially in terms of the culture/society they are in?
All of the women that we have met so far are women of prestige and money.  They are all very gossipy, always talking about other women, other women's husbands, and what's going on in everyone else's lives.  Their time is taken up by calling on different households and balls and dinners.  A very aristocratic society.  It really reminds me of reading some British literature really, which goes to show that the upper class is almost the same in most cultures.
Are you finding clashing ideals in your reading?
Oh yes, definitely!  Anna Karenina comes to the rescue of her brother, Stiva, and tries to help his wife come to terms with his infidelity and forgive him.  This seems so noble of her and so good-hearted.  However, all of a sudden, when Vronsky comes along, she seems ready to go off the path and though she has not been unfaithful yet, it is clear that things are about to go that way.  It's funny, because in one scene at a dinner party, everyone is talking about Vronsky and Anna and various things, and it seems so completely scandalous that they are even talking.  However, when you look at the situation with Stiva and Dolly, she was just supposed to accept that her husband was straying from her and deal with it.  I guess its more accepted behind closed doors than it is in the public eye, but everyone has to keep their appearances up, right?
Do you look for Truth-with-a-Capital-T in your fiction? Does this statement resonate with the chapters you’ve read so far?
Yes, I do.  I haven't read too much classical literature, but the things that I have read have really given me an insight on what things were like at that particular time in history.  One that stands out to me is Austen, though I've only read one work of hers.  I love history, I'm fascinated with it and reading things like this really help you to understand not the events, but the culture and social mores and what not at the time, which I really love.  I think its possible to find truth in modern fiction, but I think classic literature is more reliable in that sense.
It is a generally held opinion that Levin is a stand-in for Tolstoy himself. Do you think it’s a courageous depiction? Self-deprecating?  Fill in the blank?
This is a question that I can't answer well.  I don't really know anything about Tolstoy or his life or anything like that.  I know that there are a lot of authors that have written themselves into books (Louisa May Alcott comes to mind), but I think the culture here is pretty different, so I can't really say much about the depiction. 

The first time I tried reading this, I really struggled through it and set it down after a short amount of time.  I'm glad that I'm getting into it more and continuing on, because it is definitely getting more interesting.  I will say that there are passages and chapters that I still struggle through, but that could very well be from the translation, so I don't know.  Anyway, moral of the story is, I'm enjoying it!


Melody Spano said...

I'm really enjoying my translation--they do make a big difference. It might be worthwhile to see what translation your library has. You have a lot going on right now, I'm impressed that you've put a Russian classic into the mix too!

S.Leighanne @ Leighanne's Lit said...

I'm always up for a challenge! :] But I always make time for reading, and this has been on my TBR pile for a long time now so I decided that I needed to pick it up. What a prefect opportunity, right? :]

Jillian said...

Yes, so impressive that you're reading Tolstoy through all those mid-terms!! I know nothing about Russian history at this point, so it really is hard to say whether Tolstoy presents himself with courage. I'm pretty much reading for story right now; it's difficult to try to make guesses about theme and purpose when it's my first read. :-) I think perhaps on a second or third read, and after I've learned more about Russian history and tried reading other Russian writers -- then I might begin to be able to better discuss the book. Right now? I'm just enjoying it. :-)

S.Leighanne @ Leighanne's Lit said...

I've never read any Russian author and I know next to nothing about the history so I'm just looking at the plot right now, like yourself!
I'd love to know more about it though, I've always loved history.
Unfortunately, I'm way behind for Week 3, but I'm hoping to catch up either tonight or tomorrow night and get it all posted!

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