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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Musings on Tolstoy

This is definitely not going to be one of my more structured posts. We will eventually get to why Tolstoy is so wonderful, but it may take a minute. Its Saturday morning and it has been a long, hard-working week. Not bad! I am just tired. So, the two melancholics are still in bed ( me being one) and the choleric/sanguines are up and running.. well, not exactly running, but throwing their energy toward completing a task. That is, they are making pancakes. :) I had to throw that in there because family life is more clear to me after reading that temperament book I wrote about a week or so ago. I read it maybe 5 years ago, and have only sifted a little through it since then, but it has totally changed my outlook, and I am so grateful for it.

So, back to literature. I just finished one of Waugh's books and it was good. Not my favorite, but it did give me plenty to think about and talk about with one of my friends down here once she reads it. I grew up loving Jane Austen, and still do, not only for her fairytale plots, but for her admiration for thoughtfulness and interior recollection. I also loved her pitting two ways of living against each other within the same social sphere. Two opportunities, if you will. One of being taken up with the tide and living a more or less superficial existence concentrated on what others think of you, the other being one that can work within that context, but where the characters are more true to themselves and others, and so, live in more fulfilled relationships. ( This reminds me of Blessed John Paul II explanation of living 'in relatio,' which I know I have mentioned once before. My loose summary of what he says is that we don't just have relationships as a part of our life. They ARE life, they define us, and make us human.)

If I am still holding your attention, you are a kindred spirit! :) My husband (who is so graciously making pancakes at the moment) introduced me to Tolstoy closer to the beginning of our marriage ( almost 8 years ago!). I did not like Anna Karenina the first couple of times I picked it up. It starts so very sad- with a heartless affair. So, I put it down. And once I decided to really give it a try, I was captivated by the reality of his characters' lives. He does a social critique much like Austen, but he also displays a real understanding of the human person, the fact that experiences affect us and that we all have shortcomings. He allows for compassion of his most troubled of characters, while still driving home the idea that selfish choices do not lead to happiness. Since Anna, War and Peace has become my favorite novel. Although I think his theory on war and how it happens is all nonsense ( and I have to finish a discussion of this with a friend because we are trying to make sure we understand exactly what he is saying to do the idea full justice), his commentary on life is beautiful. I especially find it helpful being a woman and having a daughter.

So, I am feeling more refreshed. Thank you for reading! And give Tolstoy a try, if you feel at all interested. There is a reason why the second person of the Trinity is the Word. Our minds are meant to be increasingly captivated and illumined, and I think there are some authors that can lead us closer to the beauty of the infinite.

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