I finally finished Anna Karenina! It took much, much longer than usual for me to read, but I loved it! I already wrote a post on the first half if you'd like to check it out.
I think one thing that really struck me in reading the book at this is time is how everyone in it feels trapped. I felt trapped in my own life recently, made a job change, and started my own businsess on the side. You can check out my business and blog on content marketing over at www.sparksmarks.com. I've also jumped on Twitter, so feel free to follow me on Twitter @sparksmarks.
One thing that stayed consistent from my first post is my love for Levin. Seriously, he's now one my most favorite characters ever. I'm a little bit in love with him actually. As he reminds me of my husband I suppose this is good! I love how he works in the fields alongside his workers and respects them and doesn't have the typical aristocratic attitude.
I mentioned last time how he and Anna are foils of each other, which intensified in the second half. Both long for happiness and are searching to find it and think they find it at one point but then realize the were wrong, then both feel trapped but choose very different ways of handling that.
Some spoilers, although I think most people know about the "big" spoiler:
Anna feels trapped in her marriage and finds something she thinks will make her happy in Vronsky. You emphathize with her at this point because she didn't choose her first marriage and you can't help rooting for her to be happy, although the choice of abandoning her son is hard to understand. But leaving didn't make her happy, and having a second child made things worse. I think perhaps she had post-partum depression, understandable as she nearly died in childbirth and was most likely struggling with loving this child when she had abandoned her first. This led to her not bonding with the child. This continued and grew worse, and eventually she loses her mind. She becomes paranoid and feels there's no possibility of happiness for her except in death, leading to her suicide.
Levin, on the other hand, pursues his happiness in his land. He tries to find happiness with Kitty, but she rejects him and so he focuses entirely on his land and tries to believe he can be happy this way. Eventually he realizes he cannot be happy without Kitty and after learning of her change of heart they unite. But even then he still struggled - with fear, with uncertainty, with questions. He too considers suicide at one point, but instead chooses to believe in God and finds happiness that way.
I was surprised at how uplifting the book was in the end since I knew about Anna's suicide going in. I was surprised that it had hardly a ripple affect on the majority of the characters. I was surprised that so much of the book was about Levin. I was surprised that Anna Karenina is now on my top 10 list of favorite books.
"It used to be that a freethinker was a man who had been brought up with notions of religion, law, morality, and had arrived at freethinking by himself, through his own toil and struggle. But now a new type of self=made freethinkers has appeared, who grow up and never even hear that there were laws of morality, religion, that there were authorities, but who grow up right into notions of the negation of everything - that, as wild men."
That rings true to today as well.
"And it occurred to her how incorrect the saying was about a curse being laid upon woman, that in pain she would bring forth children. 'Never mind giving birth, but being pregnant - that's the pain." This passage goes on to have a woman talking about how she was freed when her child died. She was free from the work, the worry, the bondage. Darya is horrified at this, but then thinks about the horrors of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, sleepless nights, pain, cracked nipples, illnesses. I was surprised to see this addressed this long ago.