So obviously this is a few days late, but I’m actually rather impressed I managed it at all. I barely read at all last week, which is rare for me, so when I started this on Friday morning I really expected to be royally screwed for this installment.
Imagine my surprise when Saturday night rolled round and I went to sleep only 30 pages off target! To be fair, I’ve only just summoned the energy to write my post tonight (Monday), but the thought is there 🙂
I’ve been kind of down and ill this week so unable to concentrate on… well, anything. But the one thing I could focus on? 19th Century Russian epic literature. Go figure.
Parts 5 and 6 were full of indecision for me – there were a few things I just couldn’t make up my mind about, mainly about characters. First off, Karenin. Sometimes I pitied him because he’s obviously the victim in all these shenanigans, but then other times I thought he deserved everything he got – he doesn’t particularly care that Anna has left him, just that he might be diminished in the eyes of society. I liked him throughout the earlier parts, but he’s starting to grate on me now.
Actually, the one thing that really shocked me was in relation to Karenin – he told his and Anna’s son that his mother was dead. What!? No! I actually gasped with shock at this part. I thoroughly blame Countess Lydia (and God, I loathe that woman) but even so that’s a horrendous thing to do to a child. I wish Karenin wasn’t so influenced by her – she clearly has ulterior motives and a nasty, calculating nature.
The Countess covered her face with her hands and remained silent. She was praying.
‘If you ask my advice,’ she said, when her prayer was ended and she uncovered her face, ‘I do not advise you to do it! Do I not see how you are suffering, how this has reopened all your wounds! Of course as usual you are not thinking of yourself. But what can it lead to? Renewed pain for yourself, and pain for the child! If there is anything human left in her, she herself should not desire it. No, I advise you unhesitatingly not to allow it, and with your permission I will write to her.’
This letter achieved the secret purpose which the Countess Lydia Ivanova hid even from herself. It wounded Anna to the depths of her soul.
As for Anna herself… I have a special sympathy for the character having been not too far from her situation myself. Not that close, mind you, but enough to understand where she’s coming from with some of her feelings. Also, she seems genuinely happy most of the time, and I can’t fault her for that. She makes some stupid and irrational decisions, but I can’t help wanting to make her a nice cup of tea regardless.
“You are looking at me,” she said, “and wondering how I can be happy in
my position? Well! it’s shameful to confess, but I . . . I’m inexcusably
happy. Something magical has happened to me, like a dream, when you’re
frightened, panic-stricken, and all of a sudden you wake up and all the
horrors are no more. I have waked up. I have lived through the misery,
the dread, and now for a long while past, especially since we’ve been
here, I’ve been so happy! . . . ” she said, with a timid smile of
inquiry looking at Dolly.
I’ve pretty much already decided that I want to use that quote in my wedding reading. It’s easily my favourite quote from the novel so far.
I could have done without the political rambling in Part 6, but at least it was a hell of a lot shorter than the farming rants of Part 3. It may have been more interesting if I understood Russian politics, but as even Levin seemed confused, I didn’t think I had much hope!
Also, why have the characters suddenly started breaking into French? They can be having a perfectly normal conversation, but then one of them will randomly utter half a phrase in French and I’ll have to scan the footnotes to see what it means. Why!? I understand most people of the time could speak Russian and French equally fluently, but surely not within the same sentence!? They never used to, I wonder why they’ve started now?
you think about her attitude towards the baby, and how do you feel about
her feelings toward her son?