My life has been some kind of a mess lately which actually translates in lots of things to do and no time at all to do them. I am caught in a working routine trying to fit in reading, lots of studying and some me-time. As Rachel from Book Snob puts it:
Work has been overtaking my life lately. Time for reading? Yeah right. Time for seeing friends? I don’t think so! Time for going on cultural excursions? I wish!
However, I’ve been taking solace in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I don’t know why I was so scared of this book. It is complex, and deep, but the gorgeous and rich prose pays off. I noticed it takes me more time to read 20 pages of Anna Karenina than 20 pages of another book, but I don’t care. Right now, there is no better reading I’d choose to fit in my crazy schedule. The elegant scenarios, the complex dialogues and the psychological descriptions provide a perfect environment to relax.
I’m still not far into it. But last night I read this passage and I knew I had to share it with you all. It is taken from Section 2, Chapter 11 when Anna and Vronsky finally succumb and start their affair. I think Tolstoy’s description of the panic attack/crisis Anna is suffering is so accurate and so moving, that one can feel her chest ache with pain and suffocating.
That which for Vronsky had been almost a whole year the one absorbing desire of his life, replacing all his old desires; that which for Anna had been an impossible, terrible, and even for that reason more entrancing dream of bliss, that desire had been fulfilled. He stood before her, pale, his lower jaw quivering, and besought her to be calm, not knowing how or why.
“Anna! Anna!” he said with a choking voice, “Anna, for pity’s sake!…”
But the louder he spoke, the lower she dropped her once proud and gay, now shame-stricken head, and she bowed down and sank from the sofa where she was sitting, down on the floor, at his feet; she would have fallen on the carpet if he had not held her.
“My God! Forgive me!” she said, sobbing, pressing his hands to her bosom.
She felt so sinful, so guilty, that nothing was left her but to humiliate herself and beg forgiveness; and as now there was no one in her life but him, to him she addressed her prayer for forgiveness. Looking at him, she had a physical sense of her humiliation, and she could say nothing more. He felt what a murderer must feel, when he sees the body he has robbed of life. That body, robbed by him of life, was their love, the first stage of their love. There was something awful and revolting in the memory of what had been bought at this fearful price of shame. Shame at their spiritual nakedness crushed her and infected him. But in spite of all the murderer’s horror before the body of his victim, he must hack it to pieces, hide the body, must use what he has gained by his murder.
And with fury, as it were with passion, the murderer falls on the body, and drags it and hacks at it; so he covered her face and shoulders with kisses. She held his hand, and did not stir. “Yes, these kisses—that is what has been bought by this shame. Yes, and one hand, which will always be mine—the hand of my accomplice.” She lifted up that hand and kissed it. He sank on his knees and tried to see her face; but she hid it, and said nothing. At last, as though making an effort over herself, she got up and pushed him away. Her face was still as beautiful, but it was only the more pitiful for that.
“All is over,” she said; “I have nothing but you. Remember that.”
How wonderfully elegant is it? One cannot but love it! I
Happy week, everyone!