Anna Karenina: A Review of Sorts

I finally finished Anna Karenina! There were times when I wasn’t sure that was ever going to happen, and not just because the book has a lot of pages. I had high hopes for this novel, especially since so many have declared it the best novel ever written. And the first sentence – “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – may be one of the best sentences ever to begin a book. Unfortunately, I found the rest of the book long, verbose and tedious at times.

Anna Karenina was not a typical choice for me. However, I’ve been trying to catch up on all the “best ever” books that I seemed to have missed out on during my school days. I decided on Anna Karenina because a friend of mine was reading it. She read me some passages from the book and it sounded interesting, so I downloaded the free version for my Kindle. I’ve been told this was my first mistake. Translations are important I know, but I had already spent more than I should have on yarn and couldn’t justify the extra book expense right before the holidays, so free version it was.

There were actually times when I had a hard time putting the book down. The characters were interesting and written in such a way that they seemed very real. I could identify with most of them and found myself interested in their lives and struggles. I also think it was a good study of class struggle, relationships, and the hypocrisy and narcissism that often plagues us humans.

But there were also parts of the story that were dull and pedantic. Tolstoy gave such a long description about farming techniques and peasants that I found myself, after about 3 pages, wondering what it was I had just read. Even worse, these ramblings were not necessary for advancing the plot. Once I figured out I could just skim these parts, the story moved along a little quicker.

The end was disappointing. I will try my best not to spoil it for you. While I was sympathetic to Anna’s struggles with her reality (partly self-created and partly a consequence of the era she lived in), hers seemed too typical and easy an end.  I was very unsatisfied with the way Anna and Vronsky’s story ended – not necessarily in the how, but in the way it was written. It left me wanting more.

I could not relate to Levin’s conflict in the end at all. It seemed to come out of nowhere and his conclusions attained abruptly. This was the most disappointing for me since for most of the book I felt like I identified with him the most, as he was the character who saw through all the nonsense and hypocrisy. I felt both the main characters took the easy way out in the end at the expense of the story. I say this because I think Tolstoy provided each of them with false choices and it left me feeling let-down. I’ve read that Levin’s struggle at the end mirrors Tolstoy’s own struggle with religion and meaning of life, but I found myself actually arguing with him that he was missing the larger point, or maybe I was missing the larger point. If Tolstoy were alive today and in Indiana, or Levin was real, we could have had a lively discussion that day.

I know I did not choose the best translation. I don’t know if reading a better translation will change my view of  the story. It will be a long while before I test that theory.

On The Needles

Sweater_wip

Right now I’m working on a Tab Button Jacket by Debbie Bliss. I’m using Knitpicks Swish DK yarn in Garnet Heather.

I’ve been working on this sweater for a very long time.  I started it around Memorial Day weekend of 2011. I’ve been taking breaks in between each piece.  I’m easily distracted by new yarns and patterns, and I’m a bit bored by the pattern. The back piece was especially boring.  All those rows of tiny, stockinette stitch seem endless and dull.  It’s a good take-a-long, or knit-in-front-of-the-TV project, as it doesn’t require much thought.

Even though I’m finding it boring to work on, I like how it is turning out so far, and I have learned a few things along the way. This is my first sweater, so I am a little worried about it turning out too big, or too small, or misshapen in some other way, but it actually seems to be knitting up just right. I hope I haven’t spoken too soon. I would hate to have spent all this time on something that ends up in the donate pile.

Since I just finished the right sleeve, I’ll probably take another break to knit a small project for some immediate gratification. I just have one sleeve and the neck band left to knit. I am determined to finish it before winter ends so I can enjoy wearing it at least once.

Reading List

Books

I’ve been meaning since the last post to start this blog going again, but I always have trouble with beginnings. I never know exactly where to start. Especially now, because I’m starting in the middle – or restarting, so-to-speak.

Then yesterday morning, I received a box full of new books to read. I get a new box every new year, courtesy of the gift card to Barnes & Noble that my Mother-in-Law sends me for Christmas every year.  I figured books would be a good place to start.  Although, I’m unsure of which book in this stack to start with.  I’m leaning towards The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History (The Public Square). With all the historical fundamentalism and revisionism that has been happening lately, I think that might be an interesting and timely read.

But before I can start a new book, I must first finish Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. My husband got me a Kindle for my birthday last October and I have been taking advantage of all the free classics that come with it. Somehow, I’ve managed to avoid reading most of them. I loaded up on science and math classes during my school days, so I guess I never needed to read them. Now that I’ve reached a sort of mid-point in my life, I feel as if I’ve missed out. Now is my chance to catch up. I’m enjoying Anna Karenina so far (according to my Kindle, I’ve finished 75% of the book), but it does get a bit long. I find the relationships fascinating and engaging, but sometimes it gets a bit wordy and mundane. I get impatient for the story to move along. I’m even more impatient now that I have a whole stack of new books waiting for me.

Speaking of Kindles….of course I had to make mine a custom sleeve.  I wrote up a tutorial on how I made it.  I will post it soon, hopefully next week.