Lookie here, folks, this is me giving a 4-star rating to a massively sexist, pro-Christian, anti-sex, anti-birth-control novella about a guy who murders his wife for maybe cheating on him, feels justified in doing so, and gets away with it! (All of that plot-reveal is in the books description, spoiler-markers.
This story isnt about that basic series of events, but about a mans rationalization process concerning that quickly-summarized back-story, so keep your dirty mouse-clicks off of my review!) Have I forgotten myself, or is this book incredibly well-written? Can I love the arrangement of the words, but detest their meaning?Apparently, I am capable of divorcing myself from emotional readings of novels (lectures) which take the polar-opposite position from mine concerning matters that are of the utmost importance to me, notably that 1) Sex is a complex and often splendidly vile thing which manifests itself in broad shapes and forms and twists and turns and varying shades between gentleness and violence, assuming all involved are consenting adults just workin their way through the various urges springing from their beastly cranial-stuffings.
Im not here to judge, man. 2) That women and men are equal as human beings, and that not everything a woman does in her daily life, from getting an education to picking up a new hobby, is directed specifically toward the goal of making as many men as possible swoon over her because shes an insecure, manipulative, cold-hearted Child of Babylon. I cant believe I even have to say that, but there it is. 3) That viewing something as sinful because the invisible pink unicorn says so, and whats worse, trying to force others to live their lives according to that set of fabricated principles, is an ire-inspiring, sad state of affairs indeed.Know what Tolstoy thinks?
Women are oppressed and instantly objectified by the very existence of sexuality, so they lash out by flocking men around them via literally EVERYTHING they do. Sex is evil if engaged in for pleasure, even in marriage, but women dont have to worry about that because they dont want sex anyway.
They just use those things in their front and that other thing in between their stilts to make up for being wronged by society. Point of fact, they hate sex! Men love it because they are cursed with a love for it, and many of the terrible things they do, all the way down to murder, can be explained by it alone: sex.
The closest thing to un-evil that a lady can do for herself that is sex-related is have children within the bounds of marriage (this is their sole reason for existing anyways, right? AMIRIGHTFELLAS?!), then move on to raise them. Anything else is double, double toil and trouble. The best a man can do is avoid that temptation as much as possible, admit that all of his supposed love for a woman is purely the product of icky biological needs and perverse social conditioning, and try to live an abstinent life.
Makes sense, right?No, it doesnt.Now, I know its dangerous to assume that an author actually believes what he says through a storys protagonist, which is why I was benefit-of-the-doubting the hell out of this novel, and just allowing myself to be swept up in the insane ramblings of this awful specimen of human which Tolstoy constructed so remarkably well.
To illustrate, any time someone makes a comment about how Nabokov must have been a pedophile to write Humbert and Quilty so well, I can feel my esophagus beginning to constrict, my nails digging into my palms, and a strong urge to have a drink or twenty. However, I suggest you read Tolstoys follow-up clarification of the meaning behind The Kreutzer Sonata. Vague is the least appropriate word you could possibly use.
This is not just a character sketch of a damaged man, this is a road-map concerning how to live virtuously, Tolstoy-style, and all the terrible things that will happen if you dont. This is like Pat Roberts roid-raging, still all in love with god, but hateful of the church itself. Its nauseating, really, but the fact remains that there really are people out their who think this way. That alone makes it worth writing about, especially this beautifully.Regardless of the fact that I officially think the man was kind of a prick with some seriously fucking warped views, this story still breezes along, exhaustively detailing the inner-workings of exactly that: a seriously fucking warped pricks mind.
There are also some beautiful musings on the infinite importance and changing powers of music to the mind of the listener- a gentle soul, that Tolstoy. Almost everything else that the narrator Pozdnyshev has to say has this intense, guttural quality that hits in these never-ending blasts of shrapnel. My meaning: this book is powerful. It made me angry, it fascinated me, I couldnt stop reading it. I mean, try and imagine riding on a train (seemingly the longest train-ride ever), and having Robert Blake suddenly sit next to you and in that creepy voice of his, say Hello, Im Robert Blake, and Im here today to admit to all of you how I actually did commit the murder of my wife for which I was acquitted, precisely how I did it, and exactly why the bitch deserved it.
Gather round, kids, its story-time! You would listen, and not just because youre starstruck. I definitely made it to the finish line, and Im stubbornly opinionated to the contrary of almost everything this book stands for.All that said, if you really do get majorly upset by these topics and arent prepared to just fall in with Tolstoys maddening prose while suspending the realization that he pretty much means every word, then reading this book could leave you with more than a few blown fuses. May I recommend Valium with a cup of warm tea beforehand, or that you avoid this book like the plague?
Gentle suggestions, is all.Please keep in mind that this is my first experience with Tolstoy, and that I fully intend to read other works by him. I can see that he was an extremely gifted writer, and mean no disrespect to his ardent fans.
All Im saying is that Im not real sure how well he and I would have gotten along discussing certain political and spiritual topics over drinks.