Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Tolstoy mini-marathon

I've started what I'm calling my Tolstoy mini-marathon. I plan to read Resurrection, War and Peace, and Anna Karenina. It's a mini-marathon because I'm not trying for all of Tolstoy's works and I'll be reading some other books at the same time as I'm reading these three. But it still will be an accomplishment when I'm done.

Resurrection is a novel that isn't as famous as the other two. My daughter recommended it and since I'd been meaning to start this project I added it to my list. I'm a little more than a third of the way through and I'm finding it a little preachy, but interesting. Tolstoy was commenting on the prison system in Russia during the late nineteenth century.

His main character Prince Nekhludoff sits on a jury at a trail of a prostitute, Katusha Maslova, who is accused of poisoning someone. Nekhludoff recognizes Maslova as a woman who was once a servant for his aunt. He slept with her then left her. When she became pregnant she lost her position and her life started going downhill. That is how she ended up where he now finds her.

Maslova is innocent, but is found guilty due to a technical problem with the instructions given the jury and is sentenced to penal servitude in Siberia. Nekhludoff is horrified and determined to do right by her, even to the point of marrying her. He makes that offer, which, so far, she's turned down.

As I said, this novel is a little preachy, but that can be fun at time, especially when the subject is a world as distant as nineteenth century Russia. I enjoy when Tolstoy goes off on subjects such as the indifference of authorities in the legal system and the importance of people feeling there is value to their work, even if they are prostitutes.

I'll talk a little more about Resurrection next week. After that I plan to read War and Peace. I'm saving Anna Karenina for last because I've read it previously (twice) and it is one of my favorite books.

No comments:

Post a Comment