Anna Karenina

16 04 2013

It is a story of love and adultery. This masterpiece of Leo Tolstoy depicts upper class Russian lifestyle. Besides portraying the nuances of day to day life, it also captures internal monologue of various characters. It is with conscious effort and cajoling that I took up this bulky classic. Though I took much longer than I expected to finish the book, I must say that it’s an extraordinary read.

Anna Karenina is a remarkable woman, who falls in love with a young officer outside her marriage. Their saga of love and adultery continues in the midst of the conservative 19th century Russian society. The discrimination and scorn of the society at large coupled with her imaginative disloyalty of her lover finally gets to her and she commits suicide.

Adultery is a popular theme in literature (may be in life too 😉 ) and every time I come across it, I wonder. However much those involved in the affair condone it in the name of love or incorrigible conditions of their married lives, adultery can never be justified in the eyes of the society and is always judged harshly. (Of course, usually the woman is judged more harshly than the man.) It may be possible in certain cases that even a theft or a murder can be made allowances for, but I feel that adultery is always a source of intense shame (for those not insensitive enough) and beyond any excuses in the eyes of one and all. Does this signify that sanctity of marriage still holds big time or is it just a case of eccentric hypocrisy?

A few pearls of wisdom I noted down, towards the end of the book:

If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects, a reward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.

In infinite time, in infinite matter, in infinite space, is formed a bubble organism, and that bubble lasts a while and bursts, and that bubble is Me.

Reason discovered the struggle for existence and the law that requires us to oppress all who hinder the satisfaction of our desires. That is the deduction of reason. But loving one’s neighbor reason could never discover, because it’s irrational.