Lecture 7, AK - Tuesday LECTURE 7 ANNA KARENINA After Karenin has decided on a divorce he runs into Stiva who invites him to come to their house for

Lecture 7, AK - Tuesday LECTURE 7 ANNA KARENINA After...

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013 L ECTURE 7: A NNA K ARENINA . After Karenin has decided on a divorce, he runs into Stiva who invites him to come to their house for dinner, and of course he doesn’t want to but Stiva’s persuasiveness and oily temptation is something he can’t turn down. Stiva has invited him there in order so that Dolly can appeal to his Christian side (or at least, he hopes so). Meanwhile, at the same dinner, he has deliberately invited both Kitty and Levin with the idea that they will get together, and we get the famous letterbox proposal. He writes down various letters and the first letters of various words and she is able to guess them. We keep thinking that this happens through the transcendental, mystical union of two souls that is romantic love. There are omens that we think certain signs are related to; we believe in the naturalistic causes of events and that certain mystical signs lead us to believe that they’re omens (and foreshadowing) but this is not actually the way things are. The words that she spoke to him have been seared in both of their memories: he, in the pain of the rejection, and she, in the guilt that she has hurt him (“It cannot be”). This is not mystical at all; they have gone over, privately, words that they have shared. It may look mystical but it is not that way. It doesn’t mean that it’s not real love; it means that real love is the sort of thing that’s not mystical but intimate, in the matter of sharing thoughts and feelings. Love is a matter of mutual knowledge and mutual understanding rather than a mystically transcendent union. When Dolly approaches Karenin, she first is “firstly convinced of Anna’s innocence and this man is ruining her friend” but by the end of the conversation, she has changed her mind. He might look like someone who’s not feeling but she sees how deeply he’s feeling when he says, “I am very miserable…” and “she did not have to be told that” and she says, ( Pg. 449 ) “isn’t it possible you’re mistaken”). A lot of the best moments happen when his feelings overwhelm him in spite of himself. Pg. 449-450: Should she have forgiven her husband? Forgiveness happened on false pretences (‘it can never happen again’). She appeals to him as a Christian (Dolly to Karenin). The moment that most sticks in Karenin’s mind from the evening is the way in which the conversation is constantly turned to something that will be hurtful for Karenin to hear. The sweet silly man said “… he acted like a man, challenged him to a duel and shot him” and this really gets to Karenin because it suggests that he is not a man because (1) he doesn’t know how to use a gun, and (2) he is physically a coward. It causes him a great deal of pain that he thinks that he ought to fight physically. He sheds tears, he can’t bear the sight of other people’s tears (he feels their tears so deeply that he can’t deal with the suffering himself).

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