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Anna Karenina as Epic

Anna Karenina as Epic - Anna Karenina as Epic Despite the...

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Unformatted text preview: Anna Karenina as Epic Despite the basic structure of a multiple plot, Anna Karenina is essentially amorphic, lacking what Henry James called a "deep-breathing economy of organic form." Considering, then, the novel as epic prose, we must analyze its temper by contrasting Tolstoy with Homer, rather than his contemporaries like Flaubert or James. Tolstoy's pagan spirit — his sensual immediacy, his primitive attachment to nature — reflects the Homeric more than the Christian spirit. He himself stated the comparison, remarking of his first works, Childhood , Boyhood , Youth , "Modesty aside, they are something like the Iliad. " Tolstoyan and Homeric epic have these characteristics in common, writes Steiner: "the primacy of the senses and of physical gesture; the recognition that energy and aliveness are, of themselves, holy; the acceptance of a chain of being extending from brute matter to the stars and along which men have...
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