ANNA KARENINA, p. 733

A conversation between Levin and his old beekeeper, Mikhailych. (Even the most insignificant of supporting characters gets vivid description: The beekeeper, a “handsome old man with a gray-streaked black beard and thick silver hair, was standing motionlessly, holding a cup of honey, looking kindly and calmly at the gentlemen from the fullness of his height . . . “)

Levin: “Have you heard, Mihailych, about the war? What was that they read in church? What do you think? Should we be fighting for the Christians?”

Mikhailych: “What’s for us to think? Alexander Nikolaevich, our emperor, he’s thought it over for us, he thinks everything over for us. He knows best.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Dolly (Darya Alexandrovna), the Wife of Stiva, Reflects

Anna Karenina, p. 555:

“And in general,” thought Darya Alexandrovna, having surveyed her entire life in these fifteen years of marriage, “the pregnancy, the nausea, the dullness of mind, the indifference to everything, and above all, the ugliness. Kitty, youthful, pretty Kitty, even she has lost her looks, and me, when I’m pregnant, I become ugly, I know. The birth, the sufferings, the outrageous sufferings, the final minute . . . then the feeding, those sleepless nights, those terrible pains . . . “

Darya Alexandrovna shuddered at the mere memory of the pain of cracked nipples, which she had suffered with nearly every child. “Then the children’s illnesses, the perpetual fear, then their upbringing, their vile tendencies (she recalled little Masha’s crime in the raspberries), the lessons, the Latin — it’s all so mysterious and difficult.

Self really feels for Dolly. An argument with Stiva about his infidelity is the opening scene of this novel. The two have been married nine years and have five (or is it six?) children. And now, over 500 pages later, she is still his wife, and he is still having affairs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: PAIRS

Self is always happy when she can participate in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge!

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Rose Bowl Parade, 1 January 2019

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Straw Angels, December 2018

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Reading, December 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

True Russian Spirit: ANNA KARENINA, p. 326

This is a Vronsky chapter. (Self has been skipping all the Anna chapters; she can’t believe how suddenly and decisively Anna has fallen, from being a calm and exemplary wife to being a mewling, desperate and unhappy mistress. Is such a drastic change even realistic? Maybe such things do happen in real life — perhaps Vronsky truly was that charming — but that’s no excuse to make them happen in fiction, lol)

A foreign prince visits Russia:

In Turkey he had been in a harem, in India he had ridden an elephant, and now in Russia he wished to sample all the special Russian pleasures.

Vronsky, who was with him as a kind of master of ceremonies, took great pains to apportion all the Russian pleasures offered the prince by various individuals. There were trotters, bliny, bear hunts, troikas, Gypsies, and drinking bouts with Russian plate smashing. The prince assimilated the Russian spirit with extraordinary ease, smashed trays of plates, sat a Gypsy woman on his knee, and seemed to ask, Isn’t there something else, or does the Russian spirit consist merely of this?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Self’s Favorite Character in ANNA KARENINA

A young doctor has examined Kitty and prescribed for her a period of travel abroad. After he delivers this news to Prince Alexander Dmitrievich and his wife, Kitty’s parents, the old prince pats Kitty’s hair and says:

  • “These idiotic chignons! You can’t get to your real daughter, you’re petting the hair of dead peasants.”

WAAAH!!!

Stay tuned.

 

Anna Karenina As She Was, P. 68 of ANNA KARENINA

Anna Karenina goes to the Oblonskys to play peacekeeper between Stiva and his wife Dolly. Which, in light of what happens later, is extremely ironic. Her message to Dolly: Forgive him! Because he loves you!

After dinner, when Dolly retires to her bedroom, Anna goes to her brother, “who was lighting a cigar.”

“Stiva . . . go and may God help you.”

When Stepan Arkadyevich (Stiva) left, she returned to the sofa, where she sat surrounded by the children. Whether it was because the children saw that their mother loved this aunt, or because they themselves sensed the special charm in her, the older two, and the younger ones in their wake, as often happens with children, had latched onto their new aunt before dinner and would not be separated from her, and between them something like a game was invented that consisted in sitting as close to their aunt as possible, touching her, holding her little hand, kissing it, and playing with her ring, or at least touching the flounce on her dress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Anna Karenina: Introduction by Gary Saul Morson

Self making mincemeat of her reading list.

First, she abandoned all six books of My Struggle after reading just one page of Book One.

Then, she stopped reading Barracoon at the first page of the narrative proper, she just couldn’t agree with the decision Hurston made to write him as he appeared, not as he truly was: a grown man, a man who had endured unimaginable suffering.

Today, she put aside her copy of If On a Winter’s Night a Travel.

What does she want? What is she looking for?

Hopefully it’s Anna Karenina.

From the Introduction:

The lovers live in a realm beyond good and evil. After all, good and evil depend on choice, and where fate governs, choice is out of the question. No matter how much pain the lovers cause, one cannot condemn them . . .

That is the story Anna imagines she is living. As one of her friends observes, she resembles a heroine from a romance . . .  As Anna Karenina imagines herself into the novels she reads, such readers imagine themselves as Anna or Vronsky . . . Anna feels that fate has marked her out for a special destiny, perhaps tragic but surely exaulted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Taissia Petrovna Rudenko-Sheveleva, WWII Company Commander, the Moscow Fleet

A woman in the navy . . . that was something forbidden, even unnatural. People thought it would be bad luck for a ship . . .  In our village the women teased my mother to death: what did you give birth to — a girl or a boy? I wrote a letter to Voroshilov himself, asking to be accepted in the Leningrad Artillery School. They accepted me only on his personal order. The only girl.

When I finished the school, they still wanted me to stay on dry land. Then I stopped telling them I was a woman . . . on one occasion, I gave myself away. I was scrubbing the deck, suddenly heard a noise, and turned around: a sailor was chasing a cat that had ended up on the ship, no one knew how. There was a belief, probably from the earliest times, that cats and women bring bad luck at sea. The cat didn’t want to quit the ship, and its dodges would have been the envy of a world-class football player. The whole ship was laughing. But when the cat nearly fell into water, I got frightened and screamed. And it was evidently such a girlish treble that the men’s laughter stopped at once. Silence fell.

I heard the commander’s voice: “Watchman, is there a woman on board?”

“No, sir, Comrade Commander.”

Panic again. There was a woman on board.

. . .  I was the first woman to be a commissioned officer in the navy. During the war I was in charge of arming the ships and the naval infantry.

  • — from an oral interview in Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War (Penguin Books), translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Svetlana Alexievich: Women, War

“I observed more than once how in their conversations the small overrode the great, even history.” — Svetlana Alexievich

“It’s a pity that I was beautiful only during the war . . .  My best years were spent there. Burned up. Afterward I aged quickly . . . ” — Anna Galai, submachine gunner

Antonina Mironovna Lenkova, Car Mechanic

Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War is such powerful oral history (It’s taking self forever to get through; she can’t help poring over each interview).

Antonina Mironovna Lenkova:

My passion was books. I sobbed over the novels of Lidia Charskaya, read and re-read Turgenev.

Note by the author:

  • Lidia Charskaya (1875 – 1938) was an actress at the prestigious Alexandrinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and a prolific writer of popular fiction. Her work was officially banned in 1920.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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