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Mr and Mrs. Levin…and Elizabeth

I think Elizabeth Dalloway should go visit Anna Karenina’s Kitty and Levin.

People were beginning to compare her to poplar trees, early dawn, hyacinths, fawns, running water, and garden lilies; and it made her life a burden to her, for she so much preferred being left alone to do what she liked in the country, but they would compare her to lilies, and she had to go to parties, and London was so dreary compared with being alone in the country with her father and the dogs.   (Mrs. Dalloway)

I think a stay at the happy couple’s countryside home is just what Elizabeth needs: a little Arbeitskür

Hay-cutting is the perfect prescription for unhappy, unfulfilled socialites.

 

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Mrs. Dalloway

 

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Dead, yet?

There are parts of Anna Karenina, Part V that are sweet, and tender… and sad.  Levin’s brother Nikolay is dying.  Kitty threw a fit so that Levin would take her with him to care for Nikolay.  Levin resisted initially, but he quickly became ever so grateful that his bride has taken over Nikolay’s care.  In chapter 20 of Part V the priest is there.  Last rites are given.  A brother is slipping away.  The priest makes one little mistake.

     “He is gone,” said the priest, and would have moved away; but suddenly there was a faint stir in the mustaches of the dead man that seemed glued together, and quite distinctly in the hush they heard from the bottom of the chest the sharply defined sounds:
“Not quite…soon.”

Upon reading those lines, I snorted.
Yes, I did.
I snorted because those lines sounded familiar.  They reminded me of the hundreds of times my husband has quoted “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. The “Bring out your dead.” scene is one of his favorites.  Not familiar with the movie?  You can watch a clip on YouTube.

Nikolay and the Dead Body that Claims it Isn’t

I never would have imagined.  Tolstoy and Monty Python could have been buds.  Buds with a twisted sense of humor but buds.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Anna Karenina

 

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Never again!

Anna Karenina Part V, chapter 14

Kitty and Levin are married.  Everyone blissfully sigh with me, “Awwwww.”  Levin was late to the wedding, and there was that little moment when he had to receive the sacrament while being unsure of his faith, but now everything is smoothly sailing along for our newlyweds (unlike for our recently shacked-up couple Anna and Vronksy who are in Italy… but anyway…)

Kitty is the “lady of the house”, making decisions about all things domestic.  Levin’s bewildered by all of the details which are so important to his bride.

“He did not know how great a sense of change she was experiencing; she, who at home had sometimes wanted some favorite dish, or sweets, without the possibility of getting either, now could order what she liked, buy pounds of sweets, spend as much money as she liked, and order any puddings she pleased.”

I am with you, Kitty!  I got married and started making menus and grocery lists.
Ah, the power!
Chop Suey for dinner?  “Never again!” I declared.
What about Ham and Beans”  “Nope!”
I am the master of my menu.  I am the captain of my shopping cart.

Enjoy the pudding, Kitty.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Anna Karenina

 

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A New Name

We’ve all grumbled about the crazy Russian names in the last two novels, although the names in AK seem a bit easier to keep straight.  Maybe we are just used to it, or maybe the Americanized nicknames are helping.  Either way, did anyone notice the switch from “Kitty” to “Kate” shortly after the marriage of Kitty and Levin?   A new, more mature name for a new, more mature personality perhaps?  Marriage seems to agree with Kate.   She even proves invaluable at the sickbed of Nicholas – doing and saying just the right things to minister to her brother-in-law.   Kate.   I like it.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Anna Karenina

 

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Sisters, Sisters

My sister was here this weekend.  I love her.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our differences of opinion every now and then.  And it doesn’t mean we don’t say things every once in a while that come off as judgmental and therefore, hurtful.

For instance, the other day I spent a good ten minutes telling her how I’m totally more awesome, and reasonable, and intelligent, and socially and parentally responsible because I don’t text message.

Yeah, I’m a great sister like that.

Did I mention that messaging was her only means of communication with her husband who was 12 hours away and on complete vocal rest after his throat surgery?  Yup.  I’m super sympathetic and cool

That’s why I’m dedicating this passage from Part 2 Chapter 3 to my darling younger sibling.  Please replace the word “Dolly” with “Stacy,”  “Kitty” with “Christina,” and “Stiva’s unfaithfulness” with “texting.”

‘Dolly, dearest, I am so, so wretched!’ she pleaded in a whisper.  And the sweet, tear-stained face hid itself in the folds of Dolly’s skirt.

As if tears were the necessary lubricant without which the mechanism of mutual confidence could not work successfully, after having had a cry the two sisters started talking not of what was uppermost in their minds, but of indifferent matters, and in so doing understood one another.  Kitty knew that what she had said in a fit of anger about Stiva’s unfaithfulness and her sister’s humiliation had cut her poor sister to the quick, but that she was forgiven.

So, Stacy, what did you think about the last episode of Survivor?

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Anna Karenina

 

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Kyrie Eleison

When someone in a novel utters a sentence that I myself have thought, or even one that has spilled from my lips, the connection between the two of us is strong.

Even more so if that sentence is one that has been shouted, sung, recited and groaned by individuals for centuries.

In Part One Chapter 15 after Kitty has turned down Levin’s proposal, yet is no closer to securing one with Vronsky, she returns to her room confused, conflicted, and questioning her decision.

. . . her happiness was troubled with misgivings. ‘Lord, have mercy on us; Lord, have mercy on us; Lord, have mercy on us!’

At the end of the chapter her parents have a little spat over the same two men, and although it’s difficult to sympathize with her Vronsky-loving mother, when she fell into bed riddled with concern for her daughter and uttering the same triple plea my heart melded with her own.

. . . she thought with terror of what the future might have in store, and, just as Kitty had done, repeated several times in her heart, ‘Lord, have mercy on us; Lord, have mercy on us; Lord, have mercy on us!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a tax collector, a love-addled girl, a meddling mother, or an exhausted classics reader, this Trinitarian call for help knows no boundaries. Although each of us is separated by time, geography, and even fictionalization, we are united by the common use of words, although the words are anything but common.

You see, words connect us.  Especially when they’re not our words, but the Word.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2012 in Anna Karenina

 

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Help!

In Part 2, Chapter I, Kitty has to undergo an apparently barbaric, embarrassing medical practice that my book calls “sounding.”   What exactly is this?   The only thing I could get from a quick search was using a sort of listening device on a patient, but that hardly sounds as bad as what Kitty apparently had to undergo.   Medical experts?

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2012 in Anna Karenina

 

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