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Friday, May 27, 2011

Nabokov on Anna Karenina

In the Street (1880) by George Clausen
According to Nabokov*, Anna is "fundamentally good" but "fundamentally doomed."  Essentially she is a moral adultress, an oxymoronic characterization that allows one to distinguish her from Emma Bovary.  The latter is morally depraved and self-centered while Anna can no longer put up with her husband and refuses to live a lie.  Hers is a principled unfaithfulness to man whose main concern is the perception of their relationship within his society.  Anna and Emma meet similar fates though for different reasons that will be discussed later.

*In Lectures on Russian Literature (1981).

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