Jackie is taking over leading this particular Read-a-Long because I am swamped right now (and behind in AK reading). I will, however, join the conversation as much as I can. And if I have anything profound (or not) to say I will share it at the bottom of Jackie’s wonderful posts).
Welcome to the Anna Karenina read-a-long! We’re reading this book through October, November, and December. You can see the reading schedule and guidelines on the Starting Post Page. If you are choosing to join us from now onward, please sign up in the current week’s comments section (please make sure you are checking to make sure it is the MOST CURRENT update) or it is very likely I will miss you and not add you to the list. If this should happen, please just let me know in the comment section of the most current week, thanks! Also… here is a link to a printable bookmark that has a character guide for Anna Karenina (thanks Oprah!). Believe me, you’ll probably want it.
Week Nine: reading to Part 6 Chapter XX
Welcome to Week Nine of the Unputdownables Anna Karenina Read-a-long! This week we take a little holiday into the country. I think that another one of Tolstoy’s dual/duels is city vs. country. If you have any thoughts about that, I’d love to hear them.
Melody (Fingers & Prose) had a really great comment last week that I’d like to turn into a question. She said (about Kitty/Levin compared to Anna/Vronsky) “It’s an excellent comparison, I think, of how we define “love”. Is it passion and feelings and desire that cannot be dictated? Is it companionship and consideration–a choice we make that blossoms into something fuller? Perhaps a combination of the two?” The question I have for you all is how do you think Tolstoy defines love in Anna Karenina? (so far) Are there many definitions? Does any one relationship represent his ideals (or do none of them?)?
I loved the section on jam making. Tolstoy not only captures the sweeping epic picture, but all of the little details of life. I just had a similar experience over Thanksgiving. I’m Italian American, and we make escarole soup to start dinner (also known as Italian Wedding soup – the soup with “the little meatballs”). The amount of controversy over if one cooks the little meatballs IN the soup or in a separate pot THEN puts them in the soup was ASTONISHING! I cook them in the soup (it gives it more flavor) but my grandmother didn’t. My mother proceeded to call her friends to see if they cooked them in the soup, and would report back to me (Mariann doesn’t cook them in the soup! Eileen doesn’t cook them in the soup!). Then when my in-laws came over, it was the same thing (oh yes, I cook them in the soup! It gives it more flavor. Oh no, never in the soup! You cook them in the soup?). I was hysterical when I read this section about the jam with the water or no water. Sorry about that digression, but it amused me so much how perfectly Tolstoy captured these sort of tug of wars about ways of doing things, which are certainly subtext for much more, yes? Have you had a situation like this one in your life?
Oh, Varenka and Sergey Ivanovitch! Again, I found the writing heartwrenching in this section. I thought the way Tolstoy had them talk about mushrooms at this pivot point was just so brilliant and gutting.
Levin is being silly again in this section. What do you make of his fuss over Veslovsky’s attention to Kitty? The way he loses his cool whilst hunting with Veslovsky and Stiva? How he asks Veslovsky to leave? What do you think Tolstoy is trying to say about Levin in this section?
I don’t think any of us have yet exclaimed “Kitty is having a baby!!!” So let me :)
Were you surprised by Dolly’s thoughts about marriage and motherhood? Her thoughts about Anna’s way of life being preferable to her own? This was pretty intense. Not something you usually hear discussed frankly. Tolstoy was such an incredible student of human nature – sometimes I can’t believe he isn’t a woman! Do you know what I mean?
P.S. Are any of you interested in doing a guest post for the penultimate week of the Read-a long? When Wallace runs them, I usually do a post on something that caught my fancy about the book, but isn’t directly about the book. Examples are here and here and here! Email me at jmanni AT uarts DOT edu if you are interested!
Who’s Reading Along:
** Please don’t forget to come to this blog each Friday and share your thoughts in the comments section of my weekly Anna Karenina review (see below for more information).**
Walkie Talkie Book Club
(If you are participating and I don’t have you on this list, please let me know in the comments section. I did not include people who said ‘maybe’ so if you have changed your mind and are definitely reading along with us, let me know so I can add you. Also, if you are not going to be able to join us anymore please let me know and I will take you off the list. If you go for two weeks without commenting in my weekly update comments section, I will assume you are no longer participating and will take you off of the list. This is in no way to be discouraging, but helps to keep the read-a-long organized (and helps me remember who’s completed what read-a-long…there (ahem) might be something fun for different levels of participants at the end of the year! Thanks!)