Sunday, July 04, 2010

Anna Karenina Read Along: Part 6

Mari at Bookworm with a View is hosting a Read Along of Anna Karenina.  We are reading one of the novel's eight parts each month.  I have posted a synopsis and my responses to the discussion questions for Parts One, Two, Three, Four and Five.

Mari has posted discussion questions for Part Six on her site.  If you have read Anna before, or if you are reading along with us, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this part.

Part Six Synopsis (Wikipedia):
Dolly, her mother the Princess Scherbatskaya, and Dolly's children spend the summer with Levin and Kitty on the Levins' country estate. The Levins' life is simple and unaffected, although Levin is uneasy at the "invasion" of so many Scherbatskys. He is able to cope until he is consumed with an intense jealousy when one of the visitors, Veslovsky, flirts openly with the pregnant Kitty. Levin tries to overcome his jealousy but eventually succumbs to it and in an embarrassing scene evicts Veslovsky from his house. Veslovsky immediately goes to stay with Anna and Vronsky, whose estate is close by.

Dolly also pays a short visit to Anna at Vronsky's estate. The difference between the Levins' aristocratic but simple home life and Vronsky's overtly luxurious and lavish country home strikes Dolly, who is unable to keep pace with Anna's fashionable dresses or Vronsky's extravagant spending on the hospital he is building. However, all is not quite well with Anna and Vronsky. Dolly is also struck by Anna's anxious behaviour and new habit of half closing her eyes when she alludes to her difficult position. When Veslovsky flirts openly with Anna, she plays along with him even though she clearly feels uncomfortable. Vronsky makes an emotional request to Dolly, asking her to convince Anna to divorce her husband so that the two might marry and live normally. Dolly broaches the subject with Anna, who appears not to be convinced. However, Anna is becoming intensely jealous of Vronsky, and cannot bear it when he leaves her for short excursions. The two have started to quarrel about this and when Vronsky leaves for several days of provincial elections, a combination of boredom and suspicion convinces Anna she must marry him in order to prevent him from leaving her. She writes to Karenin, and she and Vronsky leave the countryside for Moscow.

My Thoughts:
Enough with the hunting scenes, already.  Part Six was very difficult for me to get through.  Just when I had given up hope, the last several pages brought me back to the topics that I enjoy reading in Anna Karenina.  I still am enjoying the dynamics between Kitty and Levin - I think that it is interesting how jealousy played such a strong part in this section for Levin.  Tolstoy's writing is beautiful, and his ability to capture and describe human emotion is excellent. Despite my frustration with the section, his talent was apparent in Part Six - Levin's jealousy, Dolly's concern for Anna and her self-evaluation, and Anna's struggles with her emotions.

I have mentioned that I read Anna Karenina before.  Up until Part Six, I didn't remember anything about the story line.  It is starting to come back to me in pieces, so I'm anxious to get to Parts Seven and Eight, so I can have the full picture again.

Discussion Questions (from
1.Talk about Dolly's visit to see Anna. What do you think of Anna's "secret" and her reasons for keeping it?

I think that Anna is starting to doubt herself and her relationship with Vronsky.  Their isolation has turned her into a different person, I think.  Dolly's visit meant so much to Anna - she needed a friend to confide in.  I think that Dolly may have regretted her decision to visit Anna, and the book told of how she was anxious to be back with her family, even after a short while.  I understand Anna's hesitation to tell Vronsky that she will be unable to have more children.  She feels that she is struggling to keep him interested - admitting her secret to Vronsky may be seen as a flaw that may turn him away.

2. Has Anna and Vronsky's love affair grown healthier now that they are away from the prying eyes of society? Do you feel they are still in love with each other?

I think that Vronsky has found out a great deal about himself by being away from Moscow and St. Petersburg.  He enjoys the privileges and work that goes along with being a landowner. I think that Anna and Vronsky have grown into a comfortable relationship, similar to that of a couple who has been married for a few years.  I think that Anna wants to be with Vronsky, but I sense that she wants to be with him more out of fear of losing him, than out of love.  I do believe that Vronsky loves Anna, but he also loves his freedom and is working to test the limits of Anna's control over him.

3. At the end of Part Six, Anna and Vronsky settle in Moscow expecting of a divorce from Karenin. Knowing what you know, do you expect him to grant it?

I doubt that Karenin will grant the divorce.  He is now under the influence of Countess Lydia Ivanovna, which may have an impact on his decision.  The granting of a divorce is Karenin's last bit of control over Anna and I don't anticipate that he will want to relinquish that control.

I am ready to move on to Part Seven!

1 comment:

  1. You and I have the same opinion for part 6. The hunting scene didn't need to take up so much of part 6, Tolstoy could have made his point in just a page or two.

    I'm ready to start part 7 - I think I will bring Anna with me on vacation next week.