One of my favorite books of all time is Anna Karenina. Ive probably read it once a year for the past 5 years or so. Last year, as you may remember, I read the complete works of Tolstoy. The reason for that unusual endeavor was to gain a better grasp of Tolstoy's intention in his writings. Everyone has an intention when they write, you know. And it changes over a lifetime. I wanted to be sure I understood his. I wanted to make sure that what I thought was there was really there. I had read the reviews and commentaries, but I wanted to own the knowledge for myself, not have it regurgitated by others. I can be very stubborn about things like that. Tolstoy was a man who scrapped with hard questions and the answers changed his life, thus his writings. I love a scrapper.
Over the past week Doug and I have watched the BBC version of Anna Karenina (made in 2000) via Netflix. Doug has never read the book and did not know the story. Since another version of the movie premieres today on the big screen I wanted him to see the BBC version and understand the story and characters before we see this new version - which I'm guessing (assuming) will be skewed (perhaps slaughtered) in a few directions. Why do I care so much about this story? Whats the big fuss over Tolstoy in my mind? Well, in a nutshell, I see a great commonality between CS Lewis's writings and that of Tolstoy. By that I mean that they both story tell in hundreds of layers at once and both write from a biblical worldview which can teach anyone from peasant to professor. That fascinates me and inspires me. I have much to learn from Tolstoy.
Anna Karenina is a parallel story of two couples: 1. an adulteress affair based on desire, deceit and self centered emotion which becomes more complex as time goes on. 2. a couple whose relationship is based on patience, commitment and loving devotion. The story both compares and contrasts how all human relationships effect many surrounding them, either inspiring life giving qualities or reducing their surroundings to literal or figurative death. It clearly and honestly portrays the difficulties of enduring love, both selfish and selfless love. I think its safe to say that every adult can find themselves somewhere, or even in a few characters, within the story. And in that finding can begin to know themselves better. That, to me, is genius work.