By Gary Saul Morson
In this invigorating new review of Anna Karenina, Gary Saul Morson overturns conventional interpretations of the vintage novel and indicates why readers have misunderstood Tolstoy’s characters and intentions. Morson argues that Tolstoy’s principles are way more radical than has been concept: his masterpiece demanding situations deeply held conceptions of romantic love, the method of social reform, modernization, and the character of fine and evil. through investigating the moral, philosophical, and social matters with which Tolstoy grappled, Morson unearths in Anna Karenina robust connections with the troubles of at the present time. He proposes that Tolstoy’s attempt to work out the area extra properly can deeply tell our personal look for knowledge within the current day.
The publication deals excellent analyses of Anna, Karenin, Dolly, Levin, and different characters, with a very sophisticated portrait of Anna’s extremism and self-deception. Morson probes Tolstoy’s very important insights (evil is frequently the results of negligence; goodness derives from small, daily deeds) and completes the quantity with an impossible to resist, unique checklist of 1 Hundred and Sixty-Three Tolstoyan Conclusions.
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Extra resources for Anna Karenina in our time
To illustrate the fallacy involved in such thinking, Tolstoy asks us to imagine a group of men hauling a log, each pulling in his own direction. Because the log is bound to go in the direction one of them is pulling, we may easily but mistakenly conclude that the person pulling in that direction commanded the result. " Forgetting that he has made similar blunders all along, someone who has lost a game of chess attributes his defeat to a particular move. The move he identifies as "decisive" is no worse than his other moves; it is simply the one his opponent exploited.
Even felicity unless it tempers itselfy overwhelms [Seneca]. Happiness racks us" (Montaigne, 510). Tolstoy echoes these lines in one of the absolute statements of War and Peace: "But pure and perfect sorrow is as impossible as pure and perfect joy" (W&P, 1286). Symmetry and homogeneity in a model betray that it rests upon error. Utopias therefore deny the very nature of things. In War an Peace, Pierre's Utopian dreams are shaken when he gives a speech to his fellow Masons. Not disagreement but agreement most disturbs him, because each of those who concur understands Pierre in a different way.
Because circumstances differ from place to place and time to time, for Levin answers must be specific and timely. Levin can arrive at no abstract truths about peasants and no single remedy for social problems. Tolstoy utterly rejected the intellectuals' ideal of rational thought. Kutuzov and Bagration, the best generals in War and Peace, conspicuously disregard abstract theory and the absurd idea of a science of battle. For them, a good general knows how to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities and regards his soldiers as real people with emotions and moral feelings, neither of which can be formalized.