Reading

On Anna Karenina and Constantly Interrupting Myself

So this is happening

I was watching TV the other day and the trailer came on. I am beyond pumped, like boy band fan excited. Many people do not like Russian Literature. I did not always like Russian literature. While I had read Crime and Punishment senior year of high school and thought it was pretty good, I wasn’t ready for my introduction to some hard core, real deal Fyodor Dostoevsky, which would come 8 months later upon my acceptance to both college and to their First Year Program. I bought the book, began to read it, and quickly realized the hardest part about college was not getting in, as my father had insisted. Oh no! It was the summer reading before you moved into your dorm room. Boy, I was in trouble. I read the first few pages of the aforementioned summer reading, Grand Inquisitor, and found I had to read them again, and again, and again. I was confused. Huh? What is going on here? Are other people not getting it? I don’t do metaphysics and existentialism, nor philosophy, or are those all the same thing. There was some philosophical discussion in Crime and Punishment when I read that in high school. The whole idea of rational utilitarianism, was a concept I could get behind. Who doesn’t want to feel a bit subversive in high school? Who doesn’t want to rationalize away their bad behavior. Okay, true most high school students could give a shit about such a concept, but I thought it was pretty badass. And that was as badass as I got during those days. Hey, I put the first line of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” in my senior quote under my yearbook picture. No one got my homage to Ginsberg, nor my commentary on our generation. They probably thought that the beat poets, involved root vegetables. Meanwhile, back to The Grand Inquisitor. This short book was dense, chock full of philosophy and metaphysics. The words slid all over the page. Like mercury, I could not get a grasp on them and the concepts they represented. I am dumb, I thought. Will I always be this confused with regard to college reading, Maybe the acronym for the First Year Program (FYP) should be “Fuck, You are a Pinhead.”

I soon came to love Russian literature thanks to the exemplary college English department, and my exposure in the first year to Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chechkov. I owe a great debt to those professors that broadened my horizons. There is so much to learn from these authors and our inner dialogue, and its relationship to our interpersonal lives. Also, though seemingly high brow now, these books were the 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight, etc. of their day. They are soap operas, with what seems to me, a heavy dose of homosexual overtones. As Seinfeld tells us, there “isn’t anything wrong with that,” it just seems that men had more feminine thoughts and feelings back then. (Yes, men with feelings, I know, right? Ha. Wow. Sounds better than it is. You will just have to trust me on that,) ) It would be interesting to critique Anna Karenina from a Queer theory perspective, something that I had done in a queer theory class with D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love. Dad, loved that class name.

Dad: “What are people going to think when they read your transcript?”
Me: “Um that I’m a progressive thinker with an open heart and mind.”

Thankfully, I took another class called Kitchen Table Physics, the class that would take its place as the worst class title according to Dad, a proud former middle school science teacher.

Sorry, for the digression, AGAIN.

Indeed, it was a more polite society in which Anna Karenina is set, and perhaps the character development is indicative of those societal and literary norms. Despite, all the proper behavior, there are heavy doses of improper behavior written properly.

It will be interesting to see what Hollywood does with the men. Will they be effeminate and whiny as they seem to read to me? Or will they butch them up to match their contemporary silver screen counterparts?

There is only one way to find out: To brave a theater near me.

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