Friday, September 13, 2013

Anna & Me: Part Two

As I mentioned here, I'll be reading Leo Tolstoy's novel, Anna Karenina, and blogging about my journey through one of the great classics. The novel is broken in to eight parts, so I'll post after finishing each one. To read part one of my journey with Anna, click here

Look how many copies the library had! Come on people, read a classic.

Perhaps I should have named this series "Russian Aristocrats and Me." While Anna is certainly a key player, at the end of part two I still don't find her story all that compelling. I imagine that her affair (which at this point is full blown) will become more torrid as time moves on, but I am still waiting for it to ensnare the other "subplots," not to mention my attention. 

Part two begins with Kitty, very ill, and a Shtcherbatsky family discussion regarding her state. Eventually it's decided they will go abroad (elsewhere in Europe) to see if a change of environment perks her up. Kitty's story throughout part two was my favorite - it's clear from the get-go that she is ill from embarrassment and heartbreak. Sure, perhaps her reaction is misguided, but at age eighteen I was certainly no level-headed beauty.

While abroad in Germany Kitty meets Madame Stahl, a bed-ridden woman and her adopted daughter Vrenka. Kitty grows as a character immensely. Where in the first part she is vapid and rather self-centered, when she experiences Vrenka's calming personality and general happiness of self, Kitty transforms - despite what her father says. Tolstoy writes that "it was characteristic of Kitty that she always imagined everything in people in the most favorable light possible." This realization makes me hopeful Kitty will return to Russia and reconcile with Levin. When Kitty leaves Germany at the end of part two, Vrenka jokes that she'll never come to Russia until Kitty gets married - her reply "I shall be married simply for that." And with that, I am a Kitty-Levin shipper. When Kitty refused Levin earlier in the novel I was not terribly upset because of her vanity and materialistic personality. However, now that she has been reborn, as it were, I have to root for the two of them. Levin, with all his family troubles deserves some happiness and lightness. 

When Levin discovers Kitty's has taken ill, because Stepan dropped by for a visit, he kind of well, loses his shit. Levin's reactions were just so honest - his internal struggle between wanting to ask after Kitty and trying to avoid the subject in order to stay on the path of healing was the most emotional part of this story so far. I've never read Tolstoy before, so hopefully he is nothing like Shakespeare - because everyone knows those dramas never end well.  

The affair between Anna and Vronsky comes to fruition in part two - and while I am curious about how Anna will navigate her marriage now, due to some major plot points I can't divulge without spoiling the story, I am not invested in their "romance." It seems so unintelligent on her part. Karenin seems only concerned when he realizes society is gossiping about Anna. In part one there was some glimmer of emotion and feeling from him, but Karenin quickly dismissed it because "jealousy was an insult to one's wife." Seems an odd approach to take in such a situation, but society was quite different back then. Karenin himself also comes to know of the affair during part two - and there is little discussion between man and wife regarding it. Tolstoy has caught my attention in that regard - HOW can this possibly end well for Anna? - but I don't necessarily want to root for her. 

I've been trying to take some notes while reading, so when I finish I can make a proper assessment of the novel, but I've discovered it's a little difficult with a Kindle - so, I did what any smart girl would do and grabbed a hard copy at the library today :-)

*All quotes are taken from the 2012 edition of Anna Karenina, written by Leo Tolstoy and edited by Constance Garnett

No comments:

Post a Comment