» What happens to the avalanche of feelings that engulf the boy who is suddenly confronted with things too terrible to handle? .. by things too confusing and overwhelming for a little guy to deal with?
What Happens to Them?
I'm talking about [ for example ] the Fifth Grader, who learns that his parents are divorcing .. that his elementary little world is coming apart at the seams ..
.. the very same boy .. who learns that the guy who he *thought* was his dad .. really isnt.
.. that his REAL dad (.. who he now realizes that he never knew, that he never met) .. never-never wanted anything to do with him. (His own flesh-n-blood.)
Those kinds of feelings.
Perhaps the boy, in an attempt to salvage what's left of his family life-as-he-knew-it, courageously adopts a position (.. not unlike what you or I might attempt) ..
.. with a cri de coeur that says » "This man will always be my dad," [ regardless of the divorce ].
It aint long however .. until the only-dad our fifth grader ever knew .. wants nothing to do with him (either). Both the dad-he-never-knew .. and the only-dad-he-ever-knew. Neither one .. want anything to do with him.
Those kinds of feelings. Psycho mind-fuck feelings. One piled ruthlessly atop another .. in rapidly-devastating succession.
A dying parent is bad enough. I grew up across the street from a boy (.. who later became an All-American wide receiver) whose dad died when we were young. It was obviously difficult. For everybody (us friends included).
I remember wanting to, but feeling powerless to comfort him (.. while he was crying, as all us kids sat silently, watching cartoons) .. that morning when all the neighborhood parents had left to go to the funeral .. cuz I was a little freaked out myself. (Death has a way of freaking out the living.) We're talking grade-school age.
Over the years all the other neighborhood dads tried to pitch in here-n-there .. to compensate. For example, they took him on vacations with them. And when we were going for pizza, a parent would usually say, "Run across the street and see if Patrick wants to go."
But a dad who doesnt want anything to DO with you .. with his own son. I cannot quite wrap my head around that .. I can only imagine what it must be like (» crushing).
That must really mess with a boy's sense of self-worth, no? His self esteem. His self image. His very sense of self.
The kind of shit that can eat you alive .. little by little .. by gnawing away at your soul. Until you don't even know that it's gone. Until you don't even remember what it's like to have one. *Those* kinds of feelings.
.. the kind that can crush a 10-year old beyond all repair. [ Only the truly fortunate don't know the difference. ]
I'm talking about the particularly vicious storms-of-life that are too much for anybody to handle .. even the most mature adult .. which makes the prospect of our 10 year-old weathering such a storm .. seem sadly remote.
Things that most Americans, I suspect, would be hard-pressed to even imagine (.. much less be prepared to walk-a-mile in-the-shoes thereof). Because these are wounds that cut deeper than any knife. No stitches will sew up those wounds.
We'll return to our Fifth Grader and his newfound life-in-a-whirlpool .. but right now, let's shift gears .. to something a bit more cheery.
You will have to read Tolstoy's novel yourself .. to determine whether you think he succeeded. Tolstoy himself struggled bitterly with the story [ .. published in the Russian Messenger, in 8 serial installments, from 1873 to 1877 ] .. wanting to punish Anna the Adulteress for her infidelity.
This is why the translator [ Richard Pevear ] includes the following tone-setting passage from Yeats at the beginning of his intro.
We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric.
But of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
Anna Karenina is Tolstoy's poetry. His "first true novel" .. where being 'ordinary' suks [ is considered "most terrible" ].
It was as tho one part of him wanted only pity & compassion for her .. while another .. wanted to throw her under a bus .. uh, I mean, a train.
And these two went to war .. in Tolstoy's soul. And the compassionate part won. [ We'll call that part 'Anna'. ]
You must understand that life, for Tolstoy, was all about » family. Family happiness, he felt, represented the "highest human ideal."
Nabokov [ who taught classes on Anna Karenina, both at Wellesley and later at Ivy League Cornell ] said that Tolstoy "considered two married people with children as tied together by divine law forever".
In other words, Tolstoy was Old School .. what some might call 'conservative'. And he purposefully went after the Liberal Intelligencia (nihilists) .. who were badmouthing the family.
But he didnt stop there. No, sir. Rather he went after countless other purveyors of bullshit. He was definitely in the mood. Definitely inspired.
Something about Anna obviously inspired him. He named his "first-ever novel" after her. That is no ordinary honor. Your name on the cover .. of what has come to be known as the greatest novel ever written.
Dostoevsky, for example, the only author to place 4 titles on the list of the 100 Greatest Books of All Time - in any language [ the same list upon which Tolstoy and Shakespeare each placed 3 titles ], and who was 7 years older than Tolstoy, called Anna Karenina a "flawless" work of art.
Tolstoy wrung out his soul for her. And Anna rewarded him .. with inspiration and insight. And in the end (.. tho he surely loved her) .. he killed her.
Did he kill her because he HAD to? .. or because he WANTED to? In other words, what was his » inner motivation?
Tolstoy has already stated from day-1 that his intention was to present Anna NOT as guilty .. but rather in a light that cast only » pity. So .. if Tolstoy really did intend to portray Anna as NOT GUILTY .. then why is she dead? =)