Killing Her Softly

09 Oct

Part Two Chapter 11

Are you with me?  I can hardly even bring myself describe the scene, so please do me a favor and look back at it for yourself.

Yep, that one.  For lack of a better description I’ll call it The Beginning of the Affair  You remember  it, right?  Or have you blocked it from your mind as I’m tempted to do?


Possibly the most gut-wrenching, graphic, horrible, detestable, lamentable, grievous, heart-breaking collection of words we’ve read thus far on our list.

And we read about Sikes killing Nancy and Raskolnikov’s death blows to Alyona and Lizaveta.

But those are the two events that flashed through my mind as the infidelity unfolded.  I didn’t connect Anna to Hester or Emma.  Despite his trembling jaw I didn’t see a parallel between Vronsky and Arthur.  Even the boldness in calculation, pursuit, and patience didn’t draw my mind to Léon or Rodolphe at this moment.

I saw only Bill and Rask.

Certainly this is what Tolstoy wanted.  He himself likens his characters to a murderer and corpse.  He himself paints blood oozing out of the invisible, yet deep wounds the affair cut into their souls.  He himself mixes the language of love and kisses with loathing and axes. He himself turns paramours into accomplices.

Thou shall not murder.  Thou shall not commit adultery.

Side by side, as always.


Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Anna Karenina


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6 responses to “Killing Her Softly

  1. Adriana @ Classical Quest

    October 9, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I thought the part when he compared Vronsky to a murderer WAS pretty chilling. Yikes!

    Did Vronsky’s jaw really tremble? How did I miss that?!? I’ve been so busy keeping a tally of all the flushing and blushing that I’ve forgot to keep watch for tremulous lips and jaws.

    • Christina Joy

      October 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      Yup, it’s in the first paragraph. It really makes you wonder if Tolstoy was being clever, doesn’t it?

  2. Ruth Lopez

    October 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Tolstoy is brilliant. I was shocked and sickened to my stomach, and yet it was ONLY JUST the aftermath of an adulterous scene MINUS the details.

    • Christina Joy

      October 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm

      He is! I knew that someone said that Tolstoy kept the adultery between the chapters, and in one of my copies (yes, I have three different translations hanging around right now) there are two rows of dots, sort of like an extended ellipsis between chapters ten and eleven. I thought this would mean that I was somehow less emotionally invested in their story, but the opposite is true.

  3. Jeannette

    October 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I noticed that too, Ruth. The lack of details of the affair, yet the complete shock value of the chapter regardless. It truly was masterful writing. I read it twice…despite its horror. No glorification of adultery here. No glossing over truths. He paints such a vivid picture of the awfulness. (And foreshadows what’s coming, I fear…)

    • Christina Joy

      October 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Yes, I really appreciate that he is calling a thing what it is.


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