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Anna Karenina and Tolstoy

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Posted

It was suggested to me recently on a UK teachers' website that reading (and watching films) was passive, and that in my old age (I am 73, but somewhat disabled) I need to get involved in more active pastimes.


Here at TGL "The Brothers Karamazov" was recommended, which I have now read twice.


My reason for posting here is in answer to the forum title, concerning the book which I am reading now, and to suggest my involvement is not passive. I could have posted in the thread begun by spitfire8125 in 2008, but I was hoping to confine this discussion solely to Anna and Tolstoy, if a discussion takes off.


"Anna Karenina", translated by Constance Garnett and downloaded from Project Gutenburg, which is enabling me to read it on a laptop, even in bed, the laptop propped sideways(!), takes me into a real world far more effectively than any film. I marvel at the detail which Tolstoy puts into his descriptions, of the characters, of conversations, of events, and the descriptions of the weather, the scenery, the farming, the horse racing, the social gatherings - everything and anything is treated with the same minute detail. And in my retirement, I now have the time to read it all slowly and be transported into a world of wealth, privilege and debauchery, and also the world of peasantry. My cynicism concerning present day world affairs, including American politics, is entirely reinforced, and I can relax in my retirement thinking there is nothing I can do about it. I am reminded of the elderly couple in the film "Titanic", who lay in bed in theinr cabin whilst so may others were pointlessly rushing around the decks above!

 

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Posted

Reading is a far more demanding activity than watching films, because you have to make a greater effort to follow the writing and utilize your imagination by envisioning the world of the story. Watching requires much less brain power and effort; therefore reading literature should never be considered as passive as watching something on the screen, even if it is the same thing content wise. 

Moreover, great literature allows you to engage with a dramatically different person from a different time, of a different slice of life. The reductive imagery of Television or film shrinks that ability and forces you to accept certain aesthetic choices you yourself would've conceived on your terms if you read it instead. 

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