The Haunting Melody of the Past (a review of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy)

As I finish off the literary work “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy I can’t help but see the similarities of my life although it was written in 1873. One might wonder what similiarities could one find in a novel written in an early Russian setting but in my mind there is a calm serenity of peace knowing at one time this was how my ancestors lived. As I begin “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell I begin to understand why. So many of us search for THE meaning of life. What we should be searching for is the EXPERIENCE. That is why so many of us our living our lives confused and depressed. Without a greater sense of self how are we to know what it is that makes our heart sings. That is what we should be in search for. The beautiful music that lays within all of us and the harmony that comes when a society comes together to live in peace instead of immortalizing those that never should have been allowed to play.

Have you read Anna? Do you know the basics of the storey. It truly is about the everyday life that one has to face and the internal struggle that lays within. We are all privileged enough (at least we are all born into a World that should allow us so) to live in our own best image of who we believe ourselves to be. We allow only the myths from the past that serve a purpose to seep their way into the mainstream. It is funny though that the myths and figures that we strive to honour are those that suppress and hurt our fellow man. Look towards our leaders who are supposed to serve the people that entrusted with that amount of power. Never were they given that position to serve only themselves. Hero’s serve the people. Celebrities serve only their own ego.

Anna a beautiful woman in society struggles to find her place in the World. It is seen in her ability to win over any man or woman in the way she presents herself. The author talks of her beauty only to let us know that you can be the most beautiful, most handsome creature on the planet but that still does not promise you salvation. There is an overlap of relationships as a suitor meant for somebody else forges ahead in an affair with Anna. She is intoxicating and captivating but during childbirth (where her lover has sired the new infant) she finds herself fighting a mania that one has to ask if she ever fully recovers from.

This book to me seems so far advanced in its time. Divorce was frowned upon back then. In fact noting painted a target on your back then committing the ultimate sin of adultery. With no modern medicine or science you were bond by the matrimony of marriage. ALL were bound by that law. So much so that even after Anna has passed away her daughter with her lover is returned to her husband to live. At first when I read that I was like how can that be. With no modern science though there is no DNA evidence of who the daughter really belonged to.

I can relate to Anna. I understand why she would have been swayed by the amorous attention of a man. A powerful man who was an influential member of society. It shows that lust is a very powerful drug that is very hard to overcome. That is there is something missing in a marriage or relationship that it can be easily seen how one could respond to somebody outside the marriage trying to entice you. Her marriage was of mutual understanding where they treated each other with respect and there must have been love. But also in this relationship there was a son. I mention the son only for you to truly understand the downward spiral that one takes. I am not entirely sure what drove her to madness. The idea of post partum sprang in my mind but also the idea of lust. I think when it comes to obtaining the object of your desire through less than admirable means it will drive you into insanity.  When you lead a less than honourable life you can see the impurities of the World. At least you hope there is impurities because those impurities you can use to justify your own existence and cast away your sins.

It can also be said that the grass is not greener on the other side. Having to leave with her daughter from her husband she was never granted a divorce. In today’s times we don’t even bat an eye at this happening. It is so common that the idea that anybody could be driven to ruin makes no sense. Learning that life is more about the experience and the strengthening of character you can understand how this could drive her into insanity. Once your own morals have been brought into question you become clouded in your own judgement. If it was so easy for you then everybody else must be doing it, saying it, believing it. We are our own worst enemies. Standing on the train platform listening to all those outside beliefs and voices that came only from her own betrayal she found herself jumping into two railway cars.

So there is it. With the misguided illusion that we must know what life is we forget to experience it. We forget that there are lessons and hints written all throughout time. That the real power comes from being humble to the prospect that maybe just maybe you don’t know all. That the digressions of another can be the sanity that you seek. That as a member of society it is our moral obligation to be kind and to love like tomorrow is never promised. There is guidance from the songs and melodies of the past that will lull and guide us in ways that we could never conceive.  There is a dance that one learns when listening to the past. For it is only the haunting melodies that guide us that know how to save us from ourselves.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Anna is my favourite classic. I love the story and I still think about it now even though it was years ago! Great review!


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