By Leo Tolstoy
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd
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I decided that after the Gypsy Rose Lee I needed to read something literary. This collection of stories was definitely literary, and while I can appreciate the way Tolstoy writes I just didn't care all that much for them.
The first story "Family Happiness" was written in the first person by a young girl of 18. I just couldn't stop picturing Tolstoy pretending he was a young girl and as such I couldn't really believe the story. It just felt like a pure male fantasy. The Older man who had the beautiful young girl fall hopelessly in love with him (as she'd never been out in society). Then after their marriage she discovers society which makes him grumpy and her happy, and eventually they go home and live a quiet "happy" family life. I just couldn't believe any of it. The woman was far too accepting and desire less. Her life ended up sad and lonely. I think the worst part was that the years that were described as "totally separate" and without love, were the ones where the children were conceived.
The death of Ivan Ilych was a little better. The end with the undiagnosed disease bringing death was quite dramatic. But the fact that he was rather a dull and boring man, realising his life had been rather dull and boring was also rather uninspiring.
The Kreutzer sonata was the story of a man who killed his wife. The first half of which was bizarre ramblings/rantings about the status of women and the relationship between the sexes. While it was refreshing to see someone openly discuss sexual relations in a 19th century novel the ideas were so bizarre. Women's madness was caused by having sex during pregnancy and breast feeding and they should go 2 years without sex, or they'll go mad! As well as the idea that women who employ birth control are equal to prostitutes! It was very very odd indeed. Once he'd gotten over his ravings and got on with the story it was quite interesting and dramatic. I felt very sorry for the wife that was murdered.
The last story, master and man, was actually my favourite. The story was a nice simple one of a peasant and his master caught in a snow storm again and again by the master's greed. It was a great atmospheric little tale that I enjoyed a great deal.
After reading these though, I don't think I'm going to go out and read war and peace anytime soon!
Robot-mel said on Jan 18, 2010, 17:47
Jason Fawcett said on Aug 30, 2007, 15:35