Saturday, January 03, 2009


For whatever reason (cold weather? long subway rides? the fascination of adultery?), I did make it through Anna Karenina over break. I've also eaten unhealthily, not gone to the gym, and not finished revising a paper, so as resolution-ish things go, the Russian novel is it.

A book so long and Great surely cannot be discussed in a blog post, but that doesn't mean I won't discuss it anyway, without some long prelude explaining that the work is Important. So here goes:

-The Pill and modern obstetrics are to Anna Karenina what cellphones are to "Seinfeld."

-There is nothing interesting about farming. Once discussion begins of huge tracts of land (apologies to Michael Palin), I start to not care and want to hear more about waltzes, vodkas, and tuberculosis.

-Why is Anna so much more sympathetic than Emma Bovary? Is she just a better-written character? Or is it that Emma shops while Anna just goes around being tragic? Or, is it that I first read Madame Bovary in high school (translated, then more recently in zee French) and saw the book more from a child's perspective (i.e. what horrible parenting!) and, at the ancient age of 25, can imagine how awful it would be to have been forced to marry someone who seemed OK at the time but wasn't that great actually.

-Is the French untranslated in most editions? In my $2 one, there was a whole lot of untranslated French. But not everything followed by, 'she said in French,' was in French. Just how much happened in French was hard to figure out, but the part of me trained to find a France angle on everything became obsessed with learning about the role of the French language in the lives of aristocrats in nineteenth century Russia. Another part of me was really excited about how you can watch entire seasons of "30 Rock" on Netflix instant viewing, so no thoughts yet on that front.

-I had to Google to figure out why a man named Levin was a) a Russian aristocrat, and b) worried about his relationship with Christ. I'm an idiot.


Anonymous said...

On the subject of who is a Jew, this looks interesting:

Anonymous said...

look at OO:46

alex said...

Seriously, it was pretty funny when Levin orders porridge in the restaurant, which the waiter repeats back as "porridge a la Russe."