Barely a Book Club

Teetering on the edge of a normal book club

Post-Anna Post August 29, 2006

Filed under: Anna Karenina — antof9 @ 3:59 am

Since I was gone last week & will be gone next week, Kylle has kindly allowed me to post my random thoughts/questions about all things Anna.  The post is painfully long, but I’ve put my questions in bold.  And that’s the part I’d really like to have your thoughts on. ~Shanda

While I liked this book, overall I have to admit that it was unfulfilling in the sense that it was just too much to take in & unpack.   I marveled over & over at Tolstoy’s ability to connect with so many varying emotions, but the descriptions kind of disappear in the volume of the epic telling.  Maybe I just read it too quickly.  Once again, Oprah didn’t let me down.  I pulled two notes off the Oprah website which I thought were interesting.

1. “For Anna, the experience of love led to death; for Levin, the experience of death has led him to a new love of life. Levin is no stranger to the despair that overwhelms Anna and even contemplates suicide for himself, yet he goes on living—and making a life for himself that seems incredibly full.”

2. “When first editing the book for publication, Tolstoy’s editor refused to publish Part Eight—Tolstoy incurred the cost of publishing the last section of the novel himself. He still had something to say about the inner peace that eluded his tragic heroine but inconspicuously surrounded his unassuming hero.”  

Anna’s Death

First, the death of Anna didn’t play out the way I had anticipated…it just happened so quickly.  I’ve wondered quite a bit at the reasoning for why Tolstoy wrote the scene the way he did.  Specifically, Anna tries to jump once & misses. Then she has to wait & jump again.  I can understand this possibly emphasizing that the decision to commit suicide wasn’t a mere whim.  But in the moment that she’s about to die, she tries to save herself. 

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense in terms of the portrayal of Anna as trapped. For Anna, choices were no longer between good & evil, happiness or sadness – every decision was ambivalent at best. To me, this is the thing that kept me from liking Anna.  I never believed that her circumstances had trapped her, robbing her of her happiness.  I certainly believe that lots of people are trapped in impossible circumstances.  And I wouldn’t be so foolish or naïve as to think that every circumstance can be overcome.  To me, Anna’s choices and her attitude were making her miserable.  I never was sold on the idea that changing her circumstances would make her happy.  And her circumstances never justified her behavior to me. 

Of course, I’ve never been trapped in an unloving marriage or had an affair or had children that I felt indifferently about, so what do I know?  Question:  Did you sympathize with Anna?  What was your reaction to her behavior? 


I also enjoyed seeing into Levin’s thoughts in Part VIII – his loss of identity, his quiet despair & thoughts of suicide & the reconciliation of his faith.  Question:  At the very end, when Levin comes to a final reconciliation about God & faith, he questions whether or not he should share this with Kitty & then decides not to, even though he wants to.  I’m wondering if you felt that decision was justified & if you would act similarly or differently in similar situations. 

Part V

My favorite part of the book was chapters 14-20 of Part V.  I loved Levin’s thoughts on how the first 2 months of marriage had changed his live.  I just thought it was stated so beautifully. 

Levin had been married two months. He was happy, but not at all in the way he had expected to be. At every step he found disenchantment in his former dreams, and new, unexpected enchantment. He was happy; but on entering upon family life he saw at every step that it was utterly different from what he had imagined. At every step he experienced what a man would experience who, after admiring the smooth, happy course of a little boat on a lake, should get himself into that little boat. He saw that it was not all sitting still, and floating smoothly; that one had to think too, not for an instant forgetting where one was floating; and that there was water under one, and that one must row; and that his unaccustomed hands would be sore; and that it was only easy to look at; but that doing it, though very delightful was very difficult.  

As a bachelor, when he had watched other people’s married life, had seen the petty cares, the squabbles, the jealousy, he had only smiled contemptuously in his heart. In his future married life there could be, he was convinced, nothing of that sort; even the external forms, indeed, he fancied, must be utterly unlike the life of others in everything. And all of a sudden, instead of his life with his wife being made on an individual pattern, it was, on the contrary, entirely made up of the pettiest details, which he had so despised before, but which now, by no will of his own, had gained an extraordinary and indisputable importance. And Levin saw that the organization of all these details was by no means so easy as he had fancied before. 

And again, there’s so much there with the argument between Kitty & Levin about going with Levin to see his dying brother, his brother receiving Extreme Unction, the differing responses to Levin’s brother & his eventual death.  And then, Kitty’s pregnancy at the end of it all.


8/26/06 – I’m so glad, that it’s over August 23, 2006

Filed under: Anna Karenina — antof9 @ 12:39 am

Yes, this is it! The last week of Anna Karenina. Praise to all who will finish the book. Last week was a pretty terrible meeting (partly because of my fear to open my mouth again). So I’m not going to dignify it with any comments.

Next week we are meeting at the Alamo-Placita (or Placenta whichever you prefer) park at 10:30. 


8/19/06 – Barely a Fight Club? August 17, 2006

Filed under: Anna Karenina — antof9 @ 3:04 am

Well if you didn’t come last week (which was most everyone) you totally missed Sam and Joel yelling at me for an hour. You even missed Sam running out and buying a dictionary to prove me “wrong” (which he never used.)

Only topic last week
– Was Karenin noble in his decision to let Anna decide whether to divorce or not?

Let’s meet at Aviano’s at 10:30. Read to Part 7.

Noble – Having or showing qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, or honor

Courage – The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear,or
vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

Generosity – Liberality in giving or willingness to give  

Honor – Good name; reputation.


8/12/06 – Now Taking Bets August 7, 2006

Filed under: Anna Karenina — antof9 @ 11:37 pm

As mentioned last Saturday, if you would like to bet againist someone finishing Anna Karenina, please contact me.

Last week…
 – Marriage and divorce in 17th century Russia.
 – Was it all worth it for Anna and for Vronksy?
 – Would it be better for Vronsky to leave Anna, or run away with her?
Next week we will meet at 10:30 downtown at The Market. Please read through Part 5.

1445 Market Street
Denver, CO


8/5/06 Survivor Amy Part II August 3, 2006

Filed under: Anna Karenina — antof9 @ 7:35 am

So Survivor Amy was not working at Common Ground this week…sorry for the let down, but the coffee cake was fabulous.Last week…
The significance of Vronksy’s horse race.
Vronsky versus Karenin.
Divorce in Russia.

This week I’m too lazy to think of somewhere else to meet. So come back to Common Grounds at 10:30 for Part II of the Hunt for Survivor Amy. We are reading Parts 3 and 4 which, I know is a lot, but do we really want to spend the rest of 2006 on Anna Karenina 🙂 We love you Tolstoy but ever heard of brevity.

See you on Saturday,+CO&radius=0.0&cid=39739167,-104984167,5735336650228745189&li=lmd&z=14&t=m


7/29/06 – Have you seen Spinal Tap? July 25, 2006

Filed under: Anna Karenina — antof9 @ 8:44 pm

Well week one of Anna Karenina went well. I want to encourage everyone to keep on reading. I realize that this is the biggest book we have tackled yet, but reading is fairly easy and the story is interesting.

 – Dolly and Stephan’s reactions to infidelity. Will he do it again?
 – The advantages of short chapters in big books.
 – Why Sam brought Pilgrim at Tinker Creek instead of Anna Karenina?

Please read through Part II for next week. Per Kelly we are trying a new place. Common Grounds on 17th and Wazee. I just went there this morning and there is a great little table we can meet at. And more importantly you may be served by former Survivor – Amy.

 See you there!,+CO&radius=0.0&cid=39739167,-104984167,5735336650228745189&li=lmd&z=14&t=m


7/22/06 – Death is inevitable July 18, 2006

Filed under: Anna Karenina — antof9 @ 2:50 am

I must say the Prof and Misc had a great discussion last Saturday. Unfortunately the rest of us hadn’t finished to book and were not great contributors to the conversation. But I know I still intend to finish the book, sometime.

As Misc posted the Oprah website is a great tool to insights into this book. Also I have the Cliff Notes in case you wanted them too.

We will be meeting at the House of Commons at 10:30 to begin discussing Anna Karenina. Please read Part 1. We are going to try to finish the book in 6 weeks, which is a little over 100 pages per week. This is marathon reading. Drink lots of water.