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Comments

Ana

Hi! First off, I love the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of Anna Karenina that it looks like you've chosen. One funny thing is that I think I remember reading that when he began to write Anna Karenina, Tolstoy conceptualized her differently: she was initially rather unattractive and less sympathetic than she is now. Perhaps as he wrote the novel, he came to sympathize with her to a greater extent and consequently changed the portrait. Anna is, in the end, a victim not just of her own selfish passions, but of the hypocrisy of the society she operates in, which condemns her not for having an affair with Vronsky, but for her openness in doing so. I think that complicates the idea of her suicide as due punishment, as it is the scorn of society (a society Tolstoy felt a great deal of contempt for) and not her destruction of her family that finally drives her to kill herself.

PS: A 'ned' is kind of like a Scottish chav!

Elizabeth

The Summer Book looks wonderful, I'll have to add that to the wish list. And winter does seem a good time to read it, I totally agree.

litlove

I was wondering how you would get on with Karen Campbell and now I will hold off getting anything by her for a bit. I don't know what the words mean and I get a bit fed up with lots of strange slang! And well done for making such good progress through AK! One of these days I will read it right to the end...

Liz F

I really must get back to reading Anna K, but I think it will have to wait until I have finished the War & Peace readalong because I'm not sure that I can manage two lots of Russian names at once.
As to the Glaswegian slang - well gaffer certainly does mean a boss and I think that you are probably right about 'ned', but I find that if there is too much slang in a book and no glossary to explain it, I tend to lose track and then lose interest.
I'm not a fan of books where none of the characters have any redeeming features either. I'm not naive enough to think that all the police are good people (I did report on crime and the courts for 20 years!)but I know that while there are some who do the uniform no credit, there are enough who do a good job to reassure me that things haven't gone completely wrong.

Stefanie

Congrats on getting halfway through Anna K! I expect the second half will go by faster than the first. And it is nice that the Slaves book will (hopefully) bring some warm sunshine in January instead of the bitterly cold winter sun.

Katrina

I haven't read anything by Karen Campbell but I feel that I should, I was born in Glasgow. I hate books that don't have a glossary, not that it would be a problem for me, I'm thinking of a Michael Chabon book which I read a while back. The Glasgow police have a reputation for being 'hard men' but maybe a bit thick too, I think.

iliana

Yay for getting past the halfway mark! I have to say that when I'm reading chunksters and if it really is taking me a very long time then I sort of lose interest. I hate that but there you go.

Glad to hear you are still enjoying the Unsworth book. I've got that one and it does look really good.

iliana

Oops, forgot to mention that I do have The Summer Book so no excuse this time! I want to start off the next year on a much better note with the Slaves reading :)

Danielle

Ana--Hi, thanks so much for the comment and insight into the book. Interesting about Tolstoy and his first conceptualization of Anna--I've pulled a few books from work and have left them on my desk (to bring home later) that are either about Tolstoy or have criticism of Anna Karenina--I think reading a bit on the side would really help in thinking about what everything means. It probably wasn't so odd for an aristocratic woman to have affairs as long as they were discreet--interesting thought--she was quite up front about it. What do you make of Vronsky? It seems I've read that Tolstoy most closely resembles his character Levin (not sure that is actually right?), so I'm trying to pay closer attention to what Levin has to say about things. Okay...so now what is a Scottish chav?
Elizabeth--I've heard many good things about Tove Jansson's book and have wanted to read it for quite a while now. I think I'll really enjoy it during the dark, cold days of January!
Litlove--Strangely I had this urge to read Anna Karenina, so I am going with the flow and am very much enjoying it--even if I am only reading a few chapters every day. And I hope I don't put you off reading Karen Campbell--I'm wondering if the slang would be more comprehensible to British readers. Some short passages are written as if a Scottish person were saying things--it adds an interesting element but I think I'm mangling the pronunciation in my head! Still, I know what you mean about a lot of words that you're not familiar with--it does slow your reading down.
Liz--Imagine reading both W&P and Anna K at the same time! That would be a serious overdose of Tolstoy! :) I read W&P a few years ago and had to finally set every other book aside and for about three weeks I read W&P exclusively until I made my way through the second half! I'm taking Anna a little more slowly, but it's also not as long. It's really good--whenever you do get around to it again. I'm getting the context of most of the slang I think, but it is certainly very different from what I'm used to. This has been such an unusual read for me--I wonder if I'm just not getting the humor--maybe cops mess about with each other like that--but I think I'd be peeved if my colleagues were like that. Also some have their moments of blundering about. I think this is why I'm so curious to know what others think of it. Still, I am compelled to keep going--Anna may not always be the nicest of people, but she's very interesting.
Stefanie--I think the second half is going to go quickly too--I'm building up momentum! :) I shouldn't be complaining about the cold really--I've not even gotten my winter coat out yet--it is going to get worse--I know I am being spoiled, so I expect the Jansson is going to be especially welcome.
Katrina--Glossaries are very helpful in cases like this. I am reading a UK edition, though I don't expect a US edition would have a glossary in it. Occasionally I also think a list of characters would be helpful as well when it comes to some books. I'd be curious to hear what you think of it if you do read it, as you are familiar with Glasgow--I expect this is pretty accurate as the author was a police officer before--so I think she knows well what she is writing about. I suppose the police force (maybe everywhere even) is still a pretty sexist place even now. This has just been a different sort of read than other recent mysteries, so certain details seem to really pop out at me.
Iliana--I do know that feeling. I've lost the thread completely with a few books, but I am hoping to finish this and the Wilkie Collins I started in October by the end of the year. I'm already contemplating which big book I am going to read next year. I do want to read more classics--we'll see. The Unsworth is another book that has been different than expected but not in a bad way--I've really been enjoying it and will finish this weekend. And I hope to do better with the Slaves next year as well. I think at least two of the books I gave up on and wasn't able to discuss. That happens sometimes, though, and I don't think anyone really minds. Life just gets too busy.

Iris

If Tolstoy did not like Anna very much, it might explain why I have been so puzzled about people liking her. I'll wait with any final thoughts on that until I have read your edition :)

And congrats on reaching the halfway point!

Danielle

Iris--I found an article in a periodical about this question--I've got it on hand to read when I finish the book and hopefully it will illuminate things. It does feel good to make progress and I feel like I am back into the thick of things as Anna and Vronsky are off together in Europe--am trying to pay close attention to things now!

Caroline

I am slightly more advanced than you, a bit farther than that trip to Europe and it seems easier to read now. But I already got stuck again.

Danielle

Caroline--For a book about Anna K., she actually doesn't really make all that many appearances, it seems. At least they seem very spread out. Hopefully I'll stick with it for the remainder of the story now!

Jodie

You're right where I left off, must get back to it next month I think. So interesting that you wonder if an author might condemn a character because society expects it, but really like them, as I know you're reading Madame Bovary. I think, if I'm remembering rightly part of the scandal surrounding that book was that Falubert seemed to sympathise with his immoral character too much (yes even though he kills her off, people were a hard audience back then) and to present her in too positive a light.

I'm not sure about Tolstoy and Anna yet. I think the biggest indication of his feelings comes from that scene where Anna accidentally captivates Vronsky and leads him away from Kitty. Seem to remember something about Kitty thinking her idol will demure and leave Vronsky for her, but instead she dances with him with happiness and abandonment which makes Kitty very unhappy and seems to reflect badly on Anna. Kitty is the intended of Levin, Levin is suppoused to be Tolstoy...Maybe a bit of a tenuous connection, but that's the lines I've been thinking on.

Oh and slang, not sure if this has anything to do with it but chav is used to describe people who are thought rather tacky and are lower class. Lacking in taste would probably be the best description of the word I can muster.

Dorothy W.

Congrats on doing so well with Anna Karenina! I don't remember the book well enough to have an opinion on Tolstoy's attitude toward Anna, but I'll be curious to see if your feeling about that changes in any way. I'm looking forward to reading The Summer Book. I need to have my local shop order it for me.

Danielle

Jodie--So I have finally caught up! :) I think I will not let myself set it aside again now until I finish. I had also understood that Flaubert sympathized with Emma--I need to try and find something more to read about that book. I will get back to Emma as soon as I finish with Anna! How's that for a season of unfaithful wives. I'm not sure what to think about Tolstoy--I thought Levin was supposed to be modeled on him--I feel like I should be paying more careful attention to Levin's philosophy. Kitty would never have been happy with Vronsky I think. She would have been crushed by him and I wonder what will happen to Anna. She was unapologetic about connecting with Vronsky, but yes, then she is seen in a poor light. She's a complex character and I am still deciding what I think. How strange that I have no problem sympathizing with Emma! And thanks for the definition of 'chav'--I'd not heard it before. This Scottish crime novel is filled with words that I'd not come across. Some are easier than others to figure out.
Dorothy--I'll be so happy when I finish Anna Karenina--I'd wanted to read it for so long. Finally I've managed a book that's been on my list forever. Maybe when I read the intro to the book it will shed more light on Tolstoy and his intentions. My library also has some books with criticism in them, so I will see what I can find to read. I'm still unsure really how exactly I feel about Anna. I lucked out and found a copy of The Summer Book at a library sale!

Rachel

Well done Danielle! It's been so long since I read Anna Karenina, and I would love to reread it. But I need to get Doctor Zhivago finished first!

I found your comments on whether Tolstoy liked Anna or not very interesting. I agree with Ana's very insightful first comment, that it was the blatantness of Anna's affair that earned her the scorn of society, and not the affair itself. I always find there is a double standard when it comes to affairs full stop, though - men are just naughty boys who can't help themselves and yet women are cunning and evil. Especially when children are involved. I think even now we expect women to be the carriers of society's morals and it's especially disappointing when they reveal themselves as flawed or sullied in some way.

So glad you're enjoying the book. I wish I was enjoying my own Russian behemoth more, but I'm getting there!

Danielle

Rachel--I'm zipping right along now and very much enjoying myself. Ana's comment helped--I suppose it isn't so much a matter of Tolstoy not liking Anna, but realistically this is how she would have been perceived. I find the double standard is still around today as well. Certainly in the book Anna's brother gets away with having his flings--and is quite jocular about it all. But Anna will pay so heavily for her indiscretion--and I think it isn't just a simple indiscretion--she really loves Vronsky, but is he worthy of her--I'm trying to figure out. I admire you for reading Pasternak--I did try some time ago, but I think I was not in any way prepared for such a book. I'll be curious to hear what you think when you come to the end!

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