A Glacial Pace

Anna Karenina – Section Four, by Leo Tolstoy

  Imagesimage via free-ebook-download.net

The gulf between Anna and husband Alexéi Alexándrovich grows now. They are living in the same house but apart, their lives a tension that somehow has to be resolved. This tension is exacerbated by Anna’s pregnancy by Vrónsky.  Oddly, as the child, a girl, Annie, is born, Alexéi Alexándrovich begins to feel a certain compassion for his wife and her predicament. He realizes she’s in love with Vrónsky, not him, and allows her freedom to see her lover as she will.

Meanwhile the Oblónsky family (in-laws to Kitty) do their best to draw Kitty and Lévin together. The means of doing so is a dinner bash with friends, Alexéi Alexándrovich also in attendance. The trick works, as Lévin and Kitty realize how much they have missed one another, and they profess their love. All against a contrasting emotional backdrop of Alexéi Alexándrovich feeling the loss of Anna, who has left town with Vrónsky – and without her son son, Seryózha, by Alexéi Alexándrovich.

image via neatnik2009.wordpress.com

This sort of deep, interpersonal detail is typical of Russian literature of the era, particularly Tolstoy's, and it demands that the story's arc be slowed to a glacial pace to accommodate it. Still, Tolstoy uses character emotions to keep the pace from seeming stale. The long dinner scene in this section does a superb job of depicting Tolstoy's characters' deeper complexities – but it also seems to be setting the stage for what follows.


My rating: 18 of 20 stars.





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