ANNA KARENINA, with Rhoda Flaxman on Zoom
Thursday mornings from 10:30-noon on Zoom
April 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19
Literature of the past often gives us a window into the present, and “Anna Karenina” is no exception. Russian dreams of empire have exploded on the world scene, as I write, and I want to ask,” Can a novel written in the 1870s help us understand anything about the spirit and ambitions of the Russian people today?” By giving us one of the great page-turners in fiction—a novel on the grand scale-- and telling the stories of Anna Karenina and her fall into passion with her lover Vronsky, and the Levin/ Kitty romance, we also learn about social change in 19th Century Russia, family life, farming and peasant life, attitudes toward marriage and adultery, and so much more. We are exposed to differences between the sophisticated aristocratic life of St. Petersburg and the pleasures of country life. In addition,Tolstoy, master of realism, takes on many moral questions, asking us to consider the novel’s overall views of women, issues of class, and how one should conduct one’s life. But beyond these weighty subjects is the pure joy of reading Tolstoy’s masterpiece as we consider how he--crowned by Nabokov as “the greatest Russian writer of prose fiction”-- makes art from life.
Class in person will be conducted through a combination of mini-lecture and discussion using organizing questions and topics sent in advance. Class on Zoom will rely more on directed discussion.
Though a long work, “Anna Karenina” reads fast. We will be reading approximately 160 pages for each class. Please read the novel in the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation (Viking Press,2001).