I am about to start part five of Anna Karenina which means I now have about 450 pages of Russian Literature under my belt. It's a significant belt. A peak at the first sentence promises me that the next few chapters will be about my two favourite characters - Levin and Kitty. Kitty is a young girl, Levin is an older man, a friend of the family. He has always been in love with her and she with him. But her attentions were diverted by a younger more dashing version and she rejected Levin's marriage proposal. The silly man went away for several months between arousing her passion and actually proposing and in the interim came the cad.
I love that they are now getting married. She is young, he is old. She is a woman, he is a man. She is beautiful, he is cantankerous. In their society women get married. You always hope that your characters will marry for love but rarely does it happen. Does Kitty love Levin for Levin or does she love him because of who Levin is and what he represents? I ask myself: If she loves him does it matter? Both are blissfully happy so does it matter if all the conveniences of societal life match up as well or should we scorn the union because it conforms to instead of defying conventions?
Bear in mind you are looking at the girl who would have stayed on the life boat* and abandoned Leonardo Dicaprio, who thinks that Charlotte Lucas made a good match in Mr Collins and who thinks Irene Forsythe is a fool for not loving Soames.
The world that Tolstoy has created here is utterly diverting and contains some of the most beautiful imagery I have ever read. For an old Russian dude to describe a dress in such a way that I want to make it and twirl in a ballroom, well that's saying something. His mastery of Language astounds me even through translation. Hmmm do I have time to learn Russian and enough nuance to read this in it's native tongue? Toby, what do you think?
Pick up a book - it's good for you!
*Though for Husby I would brave arctic waters.