Posts Tagged ‘Anna Karenina’
It has certainly been a while, hasn’t it?
We moved to our lovely new place in Baltimore with some difficulty and exhaustion, but move we did. The kitchen is amazing, and the soaking jacuzzi tub is divine! We traveled home to help a one @DjLunchbox move to his new abode on the weekend of Halloween and handed out candy to the kids in my parents’ neighborhood. Both Jack and I got sick to varying degrees, and only this week are we starting to feel better and back to normal. There have been visits to local restaurants, a visit to the Walters Art Museum to see the Heroes: Mortals and Myth in the Ancient World exhibit and a lecture that had me resorting to my old intellectual elitist mentality, unfortunately. But hey, I’ve accepted it. We headed back to Brewer’s Art for the Baltimore Tweetup this week, and finally got to put some faces to the Baltimore names we’ve been seeing flit over our screens.
All in all, it’s been pretty wonderful.
So why the deep thinking recently? I’m not asking you for answers, I suppose, but throwing thoughts against a screen to try and figure things out. I’m feeling a very real, very visceral need to read Anna Karenina again. Every year or two I revisit the novel, cover to cover, and every time I read it I gain a little deeper insight into the human condition. I need something from that text, specifically. It’s full of love, passion, lust, hate, lies, death, hope, and social and emotional roller coasters that only the classic Russian novels provide for me. It’s beautiful language, and sometimes you need to be surrounded by someone else’s beautiful things and thoughts, and complex emotions and feelings in order to put your own world into perspective. I’ve always argued that people watch reality TV for the same reason they went to the theater to see Shakespeare, or to the Colosseum to see gladiator games — Not for violence or cruelty, or tragedy alone, but to see other people going through something far worse than yourself. For me, literature and music are the only things that can provide that kind of escapist comfort. There’s something beautiful about language and imagery, and for me, reading all of Anna Karenina is to get to this one paragraph:
“She tried to fling herself below the wheels of the first carriage as it reached her; but the red bag which she tried to drop out of her hand delayed her, and she was too late; she missed the moment. She had to wait for the next carriage. A feeling such as she had known when about to take the first plunge in bathing came upon her, and she crossed herself. That familiar gesture brought back into her soul a whole series of girlish and childish memories, and suddenly the darkness that had covered everything for her was torn apart, and life rose up before her for an instant with all its bright past joys. But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second carriage. And exactly at the moment when the space between the wheels came opposite her, she dropped the red bag, and drawing her head back into her shoulders, fell on her hands under the carriage, and lightly, as though she would rise again at once, dropped on to her knees. And at the same instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. “Where am I? What am I doing? What for?” She tried to get up, to drop backwards; but something huge and merciless struck her on the head and rolled her on her back. “Lord, forgive me all!” she said, feeling it impossible to struggle. A peasant muttering something was working at the iron above her. And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness, flickered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever. ”
No, it’s not enough just to read that paragraph. Yes I need to reread the entire novel. And maybe War and Peace again as well. I’ve neglected classic literature for far too long, and I need to remedy that immediately. Before it would be a short span of time — a month or two, at best — but this time… this time I am left feeling marooned after many months away. Anna always brings me out of a black cloud kind of week or month. Literature can do that for me. Othello and Hamlet do that for me. Sylvia Plath’s “Soliloquy of the Solipsist” does that for me. Casablanca does that for me. Francisco de Zurbaran’s The Crucifixion (1627) will always do that for me.
I wonder what the books or plays impact the worlds of others as profoundly as Anna Karenina impacts mine… (hint… )