By Gary Saul Morson
In this invigorating new evaluation 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 rules are way more radical than has been suggestion: his masterpiece demanding situations deeply held conceptions of romantic love, the method of social reform, modernization, and the character of excellent and evil. via investigating the moral, philosophical, and social matters with which Tolstoy grappled, Morson unearths in Anna Karenina robust connections with the worries of this present day. He proposes that Tolstoy’s attempt to work out the area extra correctly can deeply tell our personal look for knowledge within the current day.
The ebook deals outstanding 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 amount with an impossible to resist, unique checklist of 1 Hundred and Sixty-Three Tolstoyan Conclusions.
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Extra info for Anna Karenina in our time
At best, reasoning by cases could be considered a place-holder until a true theory could be developed. From the rationalist perspective, successful theories apply to particular cases as surely as the Pythagorean theorem applies to all right triangles. As we shall see, Tolstoy regarded ethics in exactly the opposite way. Agreeing with Montaigne, he saw, with his keen eye for particularities, all the ways in which generalizations oversimplify. Abstract rationality favors deduction from axioms or the discovery of abstract laws allowing us to do away with appeals to experience.
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. At this meeting Pierre for the first time was struck by the endless variety of men's minds, which prevents a truth from ever appearing the same to any two persons. Even those members who seemed to be on his side understood him in their own way, with stipulations and modifications he could not agree to, since what he chiefly wanted was to convey his thought to others exactly as he understood it.
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.