Saturday, October 18, 2014

Throwback Saturday: Unbearable Lightness and Anna K

I was just starting Chapter 1 of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina earlier this week and I noticed something. A bit of context: the book opens with the Oblonsky family in disarray. The husband Prince Stepan Arkadyevich Oblonsky (or “Stiva” for short - gotta love those Russian names) has cheated on his wife Darya Alexandrovna (“Dolly") and all is going downhill (the famous opening line “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”) Tolstoy comments: “Every person in the house felt that there was no sense in their living together, and that the stray people brought together by chance in any inn had more in common with one another than they, the members of the family and household of the Oblonskys.” That remark reminded me how Tomas and Tereza meet in Unbearable Lightness. They are, in a sense, strangers at an inn who have very little in common but are inexplicably drawn by fate together in a sort of family (albeit, an unhealthy and dysfunctional one). It made me think a lot about what makes a family and the ties that bind one together. Can a family cease to exist just because a few members want out, or does blood continue to tie them together? Thoughts?

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