Anna Karenina - Lucy's Notes - Google Docs.pdf - october 30 Tolstoy \u2011 There\u2019s all the great writers in the world and then way above them in a unique

Anna Karenina - Lucy's Notes - Google Docs.pdf - october 30...

This preview shows page 1 out of 60 pages.

Unformatted text preview: october 30 Tolstoy ‑ There’s all the great writers in the world, and then way above them in a unique position is Tolstoy ‑ The most common comment that people make about Tolstoy ‑ “It is not a work of art. It is a piece of life” ‑> there’s nothing artificial about it ‑ “If nature could write directly without a human intermediary, it would write like Tolstoy” ‑ These comments are just not made about anybody else ‑ There is this very unique status that Tolstoy has, and it clearly is not that he is very clever with form ‑ He understands the world, and human beings, and the human mind, and the relationship with the mind and the body in a way that no one has understood before ‑ The wise man who knows everything, who‑‑as people constantly reported‑‑could basically read your mind (would make a comment about the thought that you had thought but not yet expressed) ‑ With that persona, he must have been young at some time… Tolstoy’s History ‑ Born into a famous and wealthy family ‑ almost immediately becomes an orphan and is raised by his beloved aunt ‑ his philosophy ‑ his first published work is a novelization about his childhood (2nd volume ‑ boyhood, 3rd volume ‑ youth) ‑ in boyhood ‑ he’s discussing what sort of boy he was, how he was obsessed with ideas ‑ the great idea of romantic love ‑‑ which means there is one and only one person destined to you in all eternity ‑ he also describes how he’d be reading the great philosophers (the stoics)‑‑if you train your body to endure privation and pain, and train your mind so that you don’t think that any external thing matters (only your soul matters, and your soul can choose its own attitude) ‑ tolstoy as a boy reported how he would hold out heavy dictionaries until his arms ached to train his body ‑ epicureanism (opposite of stoicism), he’d put down the dictionary and gorge himself on candy ‑ he was most captivated by the idea that things only exist as you perceive it ‑ school ‑ he was homeschooled ‑ goes off to an OK university, does not make a really great career as a student ‑ studies arabic and persian, but he spends most of his time drinking, gambling, and whoring ‑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ‑ he begins keeping a diary ‑ this is important because about 25 or 30 of his volumes are his diaries ‑ he is undoubtedly the most voluminously documented person who’s ever lived because of those diaries ‑ first line in his diaries ‑ “i think i may have contracted the clap. i got it well in the way people usually do” ‑ early diaries filled with his obsessions with rules ‑ he thinks you can write rules to explain lives ‑ life cannot be expressed by rules or laws ‑ he has rules: well you shouldn’t gamble, but if you do gamble, etc ‑ eventually you wind up getting rules to get yourself to remember to follow the rules he flunks out, re‑enrolls in a different faculty (enters the faculty of laws) crimea it is harder to get men and supplies from russia to crimea than it was to get them from london to crimea gets a position as a journalist for the military newspaper, he publishes a story that all russia notices, the czar comments on it, Sevastopol what is it in real life that is usually written in the 2nd person? tour guides are what this novel imitates the story then asks‑‑isn’t that morally questionable? the second story is a real account ‑ the story is a page of his thoughts as he’s about to be killed ‑ they’re about an insult he hasn’t paid yet, well, the story ends in an abrupt way there’s a break, a line‑‑he says “i’ve said what i wanted to this time, but perhaps i’ve revealed some of those truths that should not be uttered, the way one does not disturb the dregs at the bottom of a bottle of wine” and then breaks the text again ‑‑ the hero of my story, whom i love with all my soul, who was is and ever will be beautiful, is the truth he goes back to his estate for a while he’s always trying to accomplish one of two things, or maybe occasionally both he’s trying to reform agriculture knows that you can’t do a well‑meaning reform some of the initial criticism of it turn out to be right so the larger question is how do you make social reforms work? this is one of the questions that concerns him he tries to be an educational reformer, tries to find better ways he also spends time in the capital (this is where he’s like dostoevsky) ‑ ‑ ‑ all other writers have contempt for dostoevsky and dostoevsky has contempt for them tolstoy also has contempt for other writers (he certainly doesn’t get along) you can’t be a great writer and thinker and still be politically correct because then you don’t know how to think tolstoy is not like the new york times #1 bestseller‑‑the other writers would dismiss him too, but it’s perfectly obvious to everybody that this is one of the greatest writers of the world ‑ there’s never a moment of “look ma, i’m writing” (see what a good symbol this is?? isn’t this clever?) ‑ people conclude that there’s no literary devices in writing, but in fact there are ‑ to reveal certain facts that require a given perspective ‑ in his great works, the literary devices are meant not to show he’s clever, but they’re in fact completely invisible unless you know what to look for ‑ a number of his early stories use one or another shocking devices ‑ the center of his story is this older horse talking to younger horses ‑ horse says: we are a lot wiser than people ‑ for some reason people have decided that they’re going to play a certain game, and their whole life is consumed by the rules of this game ‑ if there’s any word you can apply to a given object, that word is mine, and the 2nd rule is only one person can apply that word toa given object ‑ this is a horse’s view of private property ‑ “i used to think that this was bc of some benefit that people obtained, but people call land ‘mine’ that they also never set foot on” ‑ “this is why we’re better than people‑‑they believe in words, we believe in things” ‑ there’s a name for this device: the name of this device is defamiliarization (making something strange‑‑ you take something that everybody knows and takes for granted, and you present it as if it were being seen for the first time so that you actually have to look at it and think about it rather than just see it) the function of art is to break down habitual perception, to see the world as its experienced not as it’s assumed, to make the stone stony again people see things habitually, learning is habit you have to acquire habits because attention is a limited resource so this critic picks up a passage from one of tolstoy’s diaries‑‑ “I was in my study and may have dusted my couch but i realized i couldn’t remember and there was no way to tell bc the couch had been clean anyway. and then i thought i did this habitually, and what if the whole life of people is going on habitually in this way. such lives are as if they had never been” describing a scene from the perspective of a child, there’s a famous scene where sometimes he’ll have a dog be the perspective another story that he has at this time is called 3 deaths the greatest writer ever to write about death the story 3 deaths is set up like a riddle this wealthy couple arrives at the station, and there’s a woman who’s clearly dying of some disease and doesn’t want to face that she’s dying, and everyone is pretending ‑ everyone knows that she’s not even going to make it to the next posting station ‑ everyone is lying because this is a life that is based on not considering one’s mortality and that must always be false ‑ her life is entirely fake there are some peasants in the inn and the peasant is lying on the stove to keep warm a young man comes in and says “you’re going to die soon, when you do can i have your boots” but peasants are closer to nature means that they are a little closer to facing the mortality to a truthful life and the old man says “yes you can have my boots if you can put a cross on my grave when i die” 3 or 4 months pass and the young peasant is back at the inn and they say you’ve put a sin on your soul and chops down a small tree and then the perspective switches to the point of view of the tree and you get how it trembles in all its branches and that is the 3rd death you see, because it is the least self‑conscious, therefore the most natural there’s something tricky about this to make a point, this is something tolstoy is writing at this point, until he takes on to writing truly realistic novellas and finally, in the 1860s, he writes war and peace at this point, he’s recently gotten married to a considerably younger woman (who’s also a compulsive diarist) and they have or 20 years an idyllic perfectly happy marriage. after that, it turned to hell it’s in this period that he writes war and peace one of the themes‑‑the world is a place that has sheer contingency the world cannot be predicted by any system tolstoy’s point is that there can NEVER be a social science, and contingency is only one of those reasons there’s much else to war and peace in the matter after that he turns to the next decade in the 1870s the novel we’re about to read and then something happens he has a deep moral crisis‑‑”clinical depression” (as if putting a name on it makes a difference) a sense of utter despair and utter purposelessness. a sense that we’re about to die soon, and nothing matters. nothing adds up, nothing has any meaning, and how is one to live in a circumstance when you realize that. and he writes about this in an autobiographical work (very famous one called a confession) ‑ “then occurred what happens to everyone ‑ eventually he does come through it to find some meaning he starts asking why it is that people who arent overeducated in the way that he is‑‑why do they not feel what he’s feeling he begins to try to go to church for example, he hears the priest offer up a prayer that in the next battle, god should help the russian kill as many turks as possible he winds up founding his own religion loosely connected to christianity but without anything supernatural. he believed in god, but the rest of the supernatural parts of the bible (all the miracles) he rejects. so he rewrites the gospels in his own way. it’s astonishingly presumptuous. he just loves offending, challenging other people (a nietosche ‑ someone who says niet or no to everyone else) he became a vegetarian (read his article about his visit to a slaughterhouse) he tries to reorder his life this way, involves giving away his property this, among other things, upsets his wife (when the marriage begins falling apart) he doesn’t live up to his teaching, this is when people all over the world begin coming to his estate, treating him as a divine being, his moral pronouncements are everywhere in the world. theoretically he rejects most of the great art in the world. he has his own ascetic theories this is about the tolstoy before this change well things get worse and worse with his wife he and his wife have a habit of exchanging diaries there starts to be a point where he starts keeping double books (real diary, then the diary he shares with his wife) well after thunder comes rain well particularly because there are all these scribes in the estate and then there’s the question of what to do with his property. you see, he’s in this quandary he doesn’t want to die so that all his property goes to his wife because she’ll use it for not “lawful things” like taking care of his children or something like that on the other hand, if he writes a will with any other provision that contradicts his philosophy that rejects all force then there’s a comment in his diary (tolstoy is truly the great egoist) ‑‑ “well, jesus wrote no will, why should i?” he’s near death several times and recovers he uses the fact that he’s near death as a great staging grounds he takes pride in his humility true life begins where the tiny __ begins discussion section how different of a text anna karenina is narration in brothers karamazov vs narrator voice in anna karenina ‑ it is just a narration. absolute, this is how it is ‑ nothing that frames the narrator’s voice as part of the story itself ‑ instead of having somebody describing the characters we’re not looking for symbols a moral choice isn’t a moral choice until there’s the right type of internal interpretation what do we know about Stepan he’s got a political view stemming from a personal start from the interior and work out from there Tolstoy combines sympathy and irony that treats absolutely asshole people Dostoevsky has characters scream their convictions, but Tolstoy’s characters float throughout the world believing or not believing in some capacity If you were in a duel with Tolstoy, he’s very precise. He’ll get you right in the heart. there’s something so quick and sharp. Dostoevsky would stab you with a rusty dagger, but Tolstoy is much more direct the characters that’s part of the difference in style, he starts from this point of absolute perspective whereas Dostoevsky is like “i’m a russian guy, talking to other russian people” this contour of absolute style translates from time period more fluently you don’t see broad society even though he has an absolute narrator perspective, he’s mixing in voices throughout your first impression of another character might be one character’s impression of another character bring this to the foreground right away trying to find little moments of cognitive dissonance there’s far less metaphors in this text look for cognitive dissonance there’s so much here there’s no way that the stuff that i get most interested and excited about “like a horse’s collar” ‑ blissfully happy like livestock little things like this‑‑you can go past it really quick, and it can seem like a realistic depiction, but on second thought you realize that there’s a lot being said anna karenina ‑ it’s a little easier to read it one chapter at a time, but if you really want to be finding what’s going on it’s really best to be spending an hour and a half to two hours “reflex action of the brain” ‑ the way i come off to people isn’t my fault he’s a truthful man, but what’s demonstrated in his passage is that he’s NOT a truthful man Levin correspondence or lack thereof between a person’s inner and outer self what do you mean by Levin’s cautious within these pages Stepan you won’t recognize “good” or “bad” people in the world. the virtue itself is form, not content if you’re looking for rules ‑‑ this is what’s good behavior‑‑ it’s the relationship to the rules that defines what’s good or evil stepan reminds us in a way of ivan’s devil. in a very there is no solution but that usual solution one must live in the needs of the day, that is, forget oneself alongside all of this there’s not just who we are, the inertia of daily life importance of habit that permeates the novel ‑ when he wakes up and he’s sleeping on the couch and reaches for where the bathrobe really is (usually is) ‑ the things you do with your time imprints himself on your mind Dolly is acting different than she normally is, yet everyone’s mad at her because they’re pointing out that it can’t go on like this. whoever is disrupting their stability and order, even if they’re right about it, people don’t like those who disrupt the stability and order Levin ‑ he’s more cautious ‑ he’s got this discomfort ‑ ‑ ‑ he wants things to be a little clearer in life he can’t hold down a job working for the government because … what else does he like tho Stiva there’s the scene where he’s visiting his brother pg 33 november 6 If you never find yourself saying that we were wrong, then you know you’ve accepted your views the way Stiva has when the views gradually change, you don’t reassess because you were never concerned with truth to begin with pg 10 Stiva has smiled bc of reflex action to the brain you don’t have a soul, it’s just these neurons that are wiggling in your head it was propounded in russia in 1863 reflexes of the brain, everything happens not as your choice it’s a fashionable idea, you’re not responsible for anything, it’s just your brain it’s just those neurons that fire and you may think you’re choosing but that’s an illusion by your neurons there’s basically no change in that argument to today, except we have a little more chemistry on how the neurons are firing, that’s it if you skip a little further, to the end of that chapter we find her pretending to pack, sorting them out as if she were going to leave her husband and yet she knows perfectly well that she will not why won’t she? ‑ because she has 5 children (and she’s pregnant) and 2 more of whom who have died ‑ it’s all the work she can do to get them fed and cared for and dressed ‑ what would happen if she leaves?? what’s going to happen to those children? ‑ she’s loved stiva all these years, and she can’t suddenly stop loving him… ‑ basically she can’t leave. she’s trapped ‑ and this makes stiva’s behavior all the worse because she can’t do anything about it. she doesn’t want to say this because her pride is hurt. ‑ stiva’s been assuming that she’s known this all along, but she hasn’t known at all ‑ and so we find her pretending to herself that she can do something about it and leave when in fact she can’t it’s pretty clear that sooner or later she’s going to have to adapt herself to this circumstance because stiva is not going to change. she’s completely trapped most of the critics of this book really like stiva. look, wouldn’t you like to have dinner with stiva? they like him! but when you start seeing him from Dolly’s point of view, it becomes a little evil real evil doesn’t require malice. it can be fun. if it weren’t fun, why would we do so much of it? he likes levin because he’s so completely different. he always says something completely unexpected. he’s always coming with some new view of things that you can’t find in the newspapers to listen to the same old thing every day, it provides some variety and levin likes variety what an interesting point of view! how amusing! it’s part of the basis of their friendship for a long time before we get stiva and levin together, we get a scene where levin also has come to visit his half brother sergei there’s a professor from Karakov (such as a professor from Georgetown university) and he’s come all the way to thrash out a philosophical problem ‑‑ one that we still have with us, it’s at the forefront, some sort of philosophical activity can everything be explained by neurons?? if there’s a line to be drawn, then consciousness is produced by chemistry and can really play no more of a role the point here is that this is another pointless, inauthentic way of arguing, but it’s in a different way than stiva’s. it’s the academic way it’s making fun of how academics talk pg 30 if it’s all material causes there isn’t any meaning. something that actually matters how you live you see if youre only a materialist then there is no other sort of existence the professor in annoyance looking as though the interruption had caused great suffering you non professor over there glanced at the strange inquirer more like a bargeman than a philosopher what is one to say to him? how does one explain things to a non‑academic? this is another kind of argument that is not a real intellectual argument to tolstoy levin and stiva go to the restaurant and they’re going to have their meal and they’re going to drink and they’re going to talk about ultimate questions, particularly love which, as you’ve probably gathered, is one of the major themes of this book if love is pleasure, they’re in the right place plato’s symposium it’s a philosophical discussion where socrates get together and talk about love and the question is not resolved because by the end of the dialogue everyone is drunk. chapter 10 they go to the restaurant and if you remember the waiter pg 41 ‑ instantly flinging a fresh cloth why does he throw a fresh tablecloth over the why does stiva insist on naming the dishes in russian? because he’s not a wa...
View Full Document

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture