Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Second week of my Tolstoy Mini Marathon

I'm 64% through Resurrection according to my Kindle and I still have the same basic impression of the book I had last weekend. The best word I can think of to describe it so far is didactic. I like to learn things from the stories I read, but when the author sets out to push a specific morality on me, I'm often turned off. It's like the difference between the writing in the Washington Post and the writing for Fox news. With the former an opinion might slip through, but with the latter the opinion is the focus and is forced on the reader.

I believe the best authors are the ones who respect their art form. If the purpose of the novel is not the book itself, then the writing often has the stilted feel of propaganda. When I was in college in the seventies, I took a course entitled Modern Drama from Communist China and read plays such as The Red Lantern by Wong Ou-hung and Ah Chia with an emphasis on the party line and spectacular scenes praising Communism. Resurrection isn't quite that bad, but it has some of the same feel in its criticism of the prison system in Czarist Russia.

Still, I'm enjoying Resurrection. I haven't read Anna Karenina in many years, but I still call it one of my favorite books. I feel that Tolstoy's writing, even his weaker pieces, have some power to them. I'm enjoying what's going on in Prince Dmitri Ivanovitch Nekhludoff's head, especially as his feelings for Katusha Malova are reawakening. I think that's where this story is headed and I'm looking forward to getting there.

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