Anna Karenina in Our Time: Seeing More Wisely

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Yale University Press, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 263 pages
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In this invigorating new assessment of Anna Karenina, Gary Saul Morson overturns traditional interpretations of the classic novel and shows why readers have misunderstood Tolstoy’s characters and intentions. Morson argues that Tolstoy’s ideas are far more radical than has been thought: his masterpiece challenges deeply held conceptions of romantic love, the process of social reform, modernization, and the nature of good and evil. By investigating the ethical, philosophical, and social issues with which Tolstoy grappled, Morson finds in Anna Karenina powerful connections with the concerns of today. He proposes that Tolstoy’s effort to see the world more wisely can deeply inform our own search for wisdom in the present day.

 

The book offers brilliant analyses of Anna, Karenin, Dolly, Levin, and other characters, with a particularly subtle portrait of Anna’s extremism and self-deception. Morson probes Tolstoy’s important insights (evil is often the result of negligence; goodness derives from small, everyday deeds) and completes the volume with an irresistible, original list of One Hundred and Sixty-Three Tolstoyan Conclusions.

 

  

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Contents

Introduction
1
Tolstoy today 9 Theoretical and practical knowledge 13 Astronomy
30
Two bad lives 35 Overcoming the bias of the artifact M
53
Part One Anna and the Kinds of Love
62
Marrying Romeo 68 Love and work 68 Why they quarrel 69 Broderie
77
Contents
79
Part Three Annas Suicide and the Totalism of Meaning
118
Part One Why Reforms Succeed or Fail
143
Levins Idea Its Corollaries and Analogues Selfimprovement
168
Extending Levins idea 168 Three ways not to answer 169 Kitty and self
181
Part Three Meaning and Ethics
197
One Hundred SixtyThree Tolstoyan Conclusions
223
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Gary Saul Morson is Frances Hooper Professor of Arts and Humanities and professor of Slavic languages, Northwestern University. Morson teaches Anna Karenina in a course enrolling 500 students?the largest Slavic Language class offered in America. Among his previous books is the award-winning Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time, published by Yale University Press.

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