Still reading Anna Karenina

Might’ve turned the corner on this. I’m zooming through. I continue to be extremely impressed. How does Tolstoy do this so artlessly? He really makes it look easy. The fun thing about re-reading a book is that I can see my old notations. I highlighted so many passages my last time through, but here is one of them. The most fun and muscular thing about Tolstoy is that he has the ability to both comment upon the action as the narrator and to comment upon it as a character. Here he is inside Levin’s head, describing Levin’s thoughts on arguing:

Levin had often noticed in arguments between the most intelligent people that after enormous efforts, an enormous number of logical subtleties and words, the arguers would finally come to the awareness that what they had spent so long struggling to prove to each other had been known to them long, long before, from the beginning of the argument, but that they loved different things and therefore did not want to name what they loved, so as not to be challenged. He had often felt that sometimes during an argument you would understand what your opponent loves, and suddenly come to love the same thing yourself, and agree all at once, and then all reasonings would fall away as superfluous; and sometimes it was the other way round: you would finally say what you yourself love, for the sake of which you are inventing your reasonings, and if you happened to say it well and sincerely, the opponent would suddenly agree and stop arguing. That was the very thing he wanted to say.

Tolstoy, Leo (2004-05-31). Anna Karenina (Oprah’s Book Club) (Russian Classics) (p. 396). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

And here is commenting upon things as himself, Tolstoy (or at least as the narrator), talking about why Levin always loses arguments with his brother:

In the disagreements that occurred between the brothers during their discussions of the peasantry, Sergei Ivanovich always defeated his brother, precisely because Sergei Ivanovich had definite notions about the peasantry, their character, properties and tastes; whereas Konstantin Levin had no definite and unchanging notions, so that in these arguments Konstantin was always caught contradicting himself.

Tolstoy, Leo (2004-05-31). Anna Karenina (Oprah’s Book Club) (Russian Classics) (p. 238). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

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